Bank holiday weekends. A time for family, loved ones, couples and some ‘home’ time.
Or, when you’re single, a time that makes you feel a little bit isolated and that a light is shining on your alone’ness.
This May bank holiday, I felt more alone and acutely aware of my single status than I have in a while. It felt like every other person I know was out and about doing couple things or family things or getting engaged or some other thing that indicated they were loved/wanted/needed.
This weekend just gone, I found myself for the most part spending it in my own company. It’s not often that whole weekends go by where I realise I have no plans. Thankfully, I am blessed with many good friends, but there is something about that extra day that seems to throw on a different light.
So, I did housework, sat on my bum, watched tv, did some reading, and basically waited for Tuesday to come around so I could go back to work.
And then I got an email from another single friend which basically said “thank goodness that’s over” and what a dull Bank Holiday Monday they’d had. (Dammit, if only we’d arranged to meet up!).
A couple of emails later, I decided to drop the bomb, to make the confession of a social faux pas. I took a deep breath and typed: “You know, I think I might be lonely.”
Even writing it this second time feels like I’ve confessed to something deeply socially unacceptable, as though ‘lonely’ is the last bastion of things one must not admit to being.
And my friend, always a source of smiles,, just replied with: “Loneliness is my default position, everything I do is to stave it off!”
There was I, feeling like I’d confessed to torturing puppies, and they just instantly acknowledged my feelings, confessed to the same and made me feel like less of loser.
Isn’t it amazing, the difference it makes when someone doesn’t try to solve your problems or offer blank platitudes, but just acknowledges them?
I’ve been thinking a lot since, about that how difficult it felt to admit to loneliness.
Why does it feel like such a weakness or failure? Is that just in my head or do other people feel it too?
My previous post, about social media and how it only shows us a snapshot of people’s lives, feeds into this question. For those of us feeling lonely, to log onto Facebook and see a stream of photos and posts of people having family fun or doing couple’y things only reinforces the idea that everyone else is at a party you haven’t been invited to.
But is everyone else partying it up? Or does it just look like that from a distance?
Even in uptight Britain it feels like we’ve finally learnt how to talk about depression or mental illness without flinching and running away, and thank goodness for that.
But loneliness? No, that’s still unacceptable. Even admitting to having time on your hands feels like you’re letting the side down in some way.
Is it that we’re supposed to never be alone now, thanks to social media and having a hundreds of ‘friends’?
Is Western society still much more conservative and stuck in its ways that we like to admit?
I’m really curious about this concept of loneliness and why, in 2014, does it still feel not ok?