Sunday, 1 September 2013

Hi I'm Pete and I'm lonely.

Be honest now, did that statement make you cringe a little? Despite the fact we are human and not robots, it never ceases to amaze me how those things called 'feelings,' (cue blood curdling scream) can wreak terror and panic. We can end up, therefore, in a situation where we feel our grief, sadness or loneliness is repulsive to others.

Yes, trying to express loneliness or sadness to those around us can leave us feeling vulnerable and little understood. Friends or family may even say we are given to wallowing or attention seeking.

The irony of this is, often, the more we open up the more alone we feel. Well intentioned but unhelpful feedback may make us feel it's unsafe to open up; to verbalise our feelings.

The following sentence by Martha Beck has stuck with me for years:

"At times in my life, I have been utterly lonely. At other times, I've had disgusting infectious diseases. Try admitting these things in our culture and you'll find they evoke identical responses...The phrase "I'm lonely" rings like the medieval leper's shout of "Unclean!" Unclean!" "

Beck divides loneliness into three categories: absolute, separation and existential and she gives remedies for for each.

I'm definitely of the latter division. After all, can any human know the sum total of us?  Can anyone understand implicitly our grief, losses, disappointments, joys, sadnesses, our every thought and intention? The answer has got to be no.

The remedy for existential loneliness Beck advises, is a prescription of art. By both appreciating art, and nurturing our own creativity, our mind can relax and sit quietly to the point of crossing over into a place where our self-expression has great clarity; freedom.

The reverse then, of an awkward conversation trying to mumble our inner-most, deepest, precious feelings.

If you wish to read more on the three differing types of loneliness Martha Becks' article can be found here:

A Moodscope User.