No one should be lonely. People are everywhere. Why are we lonely? Sometimes we miss a particular person. Sometimes we may be surrounded by people we have nothing in common with. Other times, there really are no people around.

The Internet helps relieve lonliness by giving us easier access to people we relate to, but often that isn't enough. Human interaction is very different than IRC, Email, or instant messaging. Even talking on the telephone isn't the same thing as actually being with a person.

Then there is the desire for physical contact. A touch. A hug. A kiss.

After being lonely for a while, people often forget they are lonely. That's what I did. That's why I was depressed for many years without knowing why.

"The first word in happiness is 'ha' and the last word in 'lonesome' is 'me.'" --Paul Westerberg.

I was always the last picked. Always the one home on a Saturday night. And always the one who went to her senior prom alone. Sure, in college, there was the occasional hook-up, but all that does is compound the loneliness. It certainly doesn't make you feel any better than the time it takes to come. And then, for two years after I graduated, no one. Not one bite, not one nibble. No man turned his head (and no woman, for that matter).

Then I met someone. Suddenly, here's someone who is interested. We talk for hours. Make love all night. He doesn't get up and leave. He is there. He feels permanent, I feel like I've always known him. He says the same.

What's important is that finally I didn't feel like there was something wrong with me. All those years of loneliness washed away. I was happy. I was accepted. I had no reason to doubt myself, to question who I was, to wonder, to second-guess every action. Because here was someone who seemed to say "no, you're right. It's not you who's always wrong."

But then one day, he says that it's too fast, and that he was wrong, that he really doesn't have strong enough feelings for me to continue. He says--says--that it isn't me. That I shouldn't change who I am. That it's his problem, not mine.

If it's his problem, then how come I'm the one who's crying?

Suddenly, I now question everything I do. Nothing I do is right. I'm too fat. Too loud. I drink too much, talk too much. I feel too much, and I let people know how I feel. I second-guess. And I wonder if those three months of happiness, of not feeling lonely, were just a fluke.

"Lonely--I guess that's were I'm from." --The Replacements.

To be lonely is to feel that you're the only one who understands you. To be lonely is to be convinced that there is a wall between you and the world. To be lonely is to be unable to take part in normal activities. To be lonely is to be unhappy.

Alone and lonely are not the same. I had no problems being alone. Alone means comfortable to do things with no one around. Being lonely means that there are things in this life worth doing which can only be done when shared with another person, but there is no one with whom you can share. It leaves you cold, sad, angry. Loneliness becomes bitterness all too easily, as has been said many times before.

The strange thing is that I don't want to be alone. I want to do things with someone else. Even small things I used to do on my own, like go to the movies or a play. Like listen to a record. Like sit out on the grass in the park. I liked sharing something like that. I liked not being alone. And now? That's all I have. And when you are forced to be alone, it makes the loneliess that much worse.

"Alone in a crowd"--sure. But the thing is, you can be lonely and surrounded by people. Alone and not feel lonely. But to be both at once?

"I can live without your touch/I die within your reach" --The Replacements.

Eventually, you become used to being lonely. If you're lucky, you are numb. If you are unlucky, you feel it every day, like a phantom limb--something should be there but isn't.

I want him to feel lonely, but I'm sure he just feels free. I want him to cry, to go without sleep, to feel as though he'll always be lonely. But I'm sure he just feels free.

I wonder some nights whether I'll meet someone again. I can't help but think that I won't, that it was a fluke, and that I screwed it up. Broken hearts like phantom limbs, pain that is intangible. I'll relearn how to be lonely.

"It is not good that man should be alone." --Genesis 2:18

Lone"ly, a. [Compar. Lonelier (?); superl. Loneliest.] [Shortened fr. alonely.]


Sequestered from company or neighbors; solitary; retired; as, a lonely situation; a lonely cell.


Alone, or in want of company; forsaken.

To the misled and lonely traveler. Milton.


Not frequented by human beings; as, a lonely wood.


Having a feeling of depression or sadness resulting from the consciousness of being alone; lonesome.

I am very often alone. I don't mean I am lonely. H. James.

Syn. -- Solitary; lone; lonesome; retired; unfrequented; sequestered; secluded.


© Webster 1913.

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