How do I cope with feeling lonely?
How Do I cope with feeling lonely ?
***TW : ABUSE , SELF HARM ***
I am a self-aware, well-educated and very sociable human. I have spent years perfecting the image that is my face and my being. At a very young age, I lost the two most important people in my life. It was the first time I learned what it was like to be left alone in the world. Now granted, I was fortunate enough that I have a huge family who did what they could to support me and care for me through the times. But nothing, absolutely nothing hits you harder than the reality of never seeing your parents again. Especially at the age of two and three.
Growing up happened real fast. One day I was running around with my other cousins, and the next, I was breaking down, throwing tantrums, and acting out. By the mere age of four, I was shipped off to a new country, new family, with no idea when I would ever feel at home again.
During the years of my childhood, I was often isolated from the rest of the world. Most of my memories base themselves in my bedroom at step parent’s house. It was located right at the front of the house looking out onto the rest of our U-shaped street. In the winters, I would be trapped in my room watching the rest of the world light up. I would watch the kids slip and slide through the streets laughing along with their friends. Summers were not much different.
Starting school was probably the only thing that I was happy about, I was finally kind of not alone. In school, I got to be with teachers, and other kids! I didn’t have to be trapped in a room all the time, sometimes, I got to go outside, and talk with other kids, and play in the sandbox. My primary years were beautiful at school. But as I started to grasp social behaviours among my peers, I soon realized, I was so much more different than the rest of them. I started noticing that I was left out of many conversations, my voice was never heard, and everyone else were having sleepovers, birthday parties etc. without me even knowing a single detail about it. One of my very few friends during that time had no problem telling me I was annoying, and that no one at school liked me, and that I was known as the ‘loner’.
He wasn’t wrong. I look back and I honestly could say, the times I thought I had the most peer support was actually all lies. People were smiling and pretending to be nice to my face while saying the meanest things about me behind my back. I was again, all by myself against the rest of the world.
I’ve always hated being alone, feeling like I had no one to go to, and I was terrified that one day, it would just be me, no one else, just me in this life trying to resolve a loss I never understood. I can’t put into words how isolating, and disheartening it is to be surrounded by all of what you think is good for you, only to feel invisible amongst it all.
By the age of fifteen I began to self harm, and abusing substances just so I could not feel lonely. I started telling myself awful things about me, and how nothing and no one in the world could ever see or understand how much pain and suffering I was feeling. I justified to myself that there was no reason or will to keep living, so, I decided to finish myself off with a bottle of pills and liquor.
I woke up to drenched in my own vomit, faced down in my bathroom floor and once again, alone. Now, you must understand, my family was abusive, in every sense you could think. Including that, and the fact that mental health does not exist in my culture, resulted in very little understanding or belief in my illness. My family does not believe that your brain can be sick unless you are in full psychosis. And to be completely honest I could have been in psychosis for most of my childhood and they still would not believe that mental health is real. So, after my first attempt, I tried to tell my step-mom I wasn’t okay. She told me I was just sad and ungrateful. That was that, I stopped trying to talk to her about it.
I sat with this experience for a long time. Having no resources, no support, and no one to talk to, my mind would just snowball in silence. I realized I had screwed up somewhere, I didn’t do it right, and my ideations would grow. I started investing more and more mental energy into thinking of ways to successfully kill myself than anything else. Near the end of age seventeen, I tried again. More alcohol, more pills, and more recklessness. You see how this turned out.
Processing and healing through this was a journey and three quarters. Along the way, I have met incredible people, learned powerful tools, and have witnessed compassion on a whole different level.
My chaplain at the time was my greatest blessing. Having watched me grow for six years, and hearing the violence I was facing at home, she did everything in her power to provide me with hope and support. She believed in me more than anyone had ever really had in my life, and constantly reminded me that she was always cared about me, and she sees me. Even now, she still checks in on me to make sure I am still healthy and well.
It wasn’t until first year university that I began to really allow myself the emotional space for healing, nonetheless making friends. Yet, I cut down my substance uses to only social occasions with friends, and hid my weapons of self harm hoping that somehow this could protect me from myself. With vigorous re-socialization, and confidence building, I would move out on my own, start university fresh, and build my own family of support. This made up of many incredible humans I met at Carleton, and people I have met through personal circumstances, but more importantly my two doggos Phinous Martha Kenneth Chubbs and Stella Fern Lanky Lanks (there’s a stories behind these names but you don’t need to worry about that).
Living alone, and having no one to answer to but myself, I realize that I couldn’t have someone by my side at all times. My best friend had her own life, and when I graduated, my chaplain and I ended up on opposite ends of the city. I needed to finally allow myself to be alone, and be okay with this. I couldn’t just call people up every night, which I did. I couldn’t be out every night, which I was. And eventually, if I stay at work too long, they’re going to just send me home, which they did. I needed to come to terms with being alone without feeling lonely.
I booked numerous appointments with psychologist counselling, and started medication. I started researching more and more into meditation, and actively took time out of my day to allow myself to be alone. Telling myself that it is okay to be here, it is okay that you are seen in this very instance. You are and will be okay.Mental training, and repetition became automatic.
Through years of counselling, mental health management, and safety planning I am learning to step back and reflect on the realities of my feelings and thoughts. It’s not easy, and I continue to struggle daily. To this day, I am still having to fight with my suicidal ideations, learning to shut out the voices, and teaching myself that my mind is not my only friend. I can’t say that any part of me is cured; my depressive downs are still heavy, and the urges of harm remain. I can say, however, that through every part of this life journey, it’s slowly teaching me to feel less and less lonely whenever I am alone.