I had an interesting conversation recently with a new found friend that got me thinking about what makes you feel lonely even when you are surrounded by well wishers.
adjective lone·li·er, lone·li·est.
1. affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome.
2. destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc.: a lonely exile.
3. lone solitary; without company; companionless.
Now I think the perception of loneliness can be very deceiving. If you met me in my everyday life you would never label me as a lonely person, quite the opposite.
I work in a sales environment, I am successful at what I do and the surroundings I work in are full of strong confident characters, a category in which I would place myself whilst at work. I have plenty of friends around me, if I want to go out drinking it wouldn’t be hard to find someone to go with at short notice.
I am blessed to come from a strong family unit, my parents are still together after 40 years of marriage and going strong, I’m also lucky enough to have known both of my great grandparents as well as my grandparents. I also have a fantastic relationship with my partners family.
If, as a lot of us do, you judge your popularity via our “friends” on social media then I score highly there too, I have over 500 friends on Facebook and any status update that I put on will doubtless bring plenty of “likes” and comments.
I am known for my sense of humour, I find comedy in every situation, no matter how bad I will always try and crack a joke, if appropriate of course, to make an atmosphere lighter.
My relationship with my partner was fantastic, we have been together 10 years and were very comfortable, like many relationships we could always do with a bit more adventure and passion but we are very committed to each other and both know that this was for life.
And yet, during my partners pregnancy, birth and now the raising of our boy I have never felt so alone.
It really doesn’t matter who is around you, how many people are there to say it will all be ok, unless you feel that you have at least one person that can relate to, understand and truly empathise with what you are going through then you may as well be on a desert island with only your own thoughts for company.
Not wanting to have kids will put you into a very minority group, in my circle of friends I only found one other person who felt like I do, she is a very close friend and, just like us, accidentally got pregnant. As soon as she became a mum her views changed, radically, and my one and only sympathiser went. I didn’t have such a change in opinion when my boy was born, if you have read my other posts I hope you have picked up how much I love him but I am me and I refuse to be defined by my role as a parent. I take this role very seriously but will not allow it to become all encompassing.
I always feel it necessary when I tell people that I have a no child philosophy that I am also no child hater, I’ve never really got gooey over babies, I don’t know many men that do, but put a toddler in front of me, I am instantly on their level and will happily play for hours. I totally get why people would want children in their life and the joy it brings them but these same people never seem to accept that you don’t.
When I realised that I didn’t want kids I could understand why people didn’t get it at the time, after all I was only twenty something, I wasn’t in a long term relationship so it was conceivable that I would change my mind but as I approached my late thirties and had been with my partner a good few years it shocked me that the comments never went away and that some sort of acceptance wasn’t forthcoming. I’m sure the same people have a smug ‘told you so’ attitude to me now and some have even commented about me having a second! I can’t even argue my point now though, having this baby has given everyone the perfect trump card of any argument that I could come up with!
So this is why I feel as isolated and lonely as I do, don’t get me wrong I am happy with many parts of my life, I know how lucky I am and I’m sure if many if you saw my life you would wonder what the hell I could be worried about.
If you do encounter people that don’t want kids I appreciate that you may not understand it, I’ve given up trying to go down that route of changing people’s perception but do try to it make them feel secluded from society quite as much as they possibly already do.
It’s only through all of this that I now understand the phrase “feeling lonely in a crowded room”.
Thanks for listening.