I spend a lot of time alone. I always have. I don’t recall spending a lot of time with friends as a child and, having been single since the end of June 2011, I regularly get in from my day job on a Friday and don’t leave the house again until Monday morning.
I have three friends, my sister, and. . .that’s it.
I’m fortunate in that I rarely feel lonely–I’m emotionally resilient and I have plenty of interests to keep me occupied–but yesterday I experienced quite possibly the most terrible bout of loneliness I’ve ever had.
The first sign was constantly checking facebook and twitter. For all that these are great ways to stay in touch with the world they can have the opposite effect if no one interacts with you (and I don’t like to tweet just for the sake of it). I’m not even bothered about attention – I stopped being an attention whore when I gave up acting in 2003.
But, by the time I was sitting on the sofa with my head in my hands, I knew that I had to do something about it. I’m not one to ask for help, so I didn’t pick up the phone and call anyone, but here’s what has worked, and still works, for me.
- Exercise: For me, exercise has three benefits. It lifts my mood, contributes to my physical wellbeing, and reinforces the feeling that I’ve achieved something rather than wasted a perfectly good day moping around the house.
- Music: When I’m feeling blue, any song with a sad lyric or melody is sure to send me over the edge. (It will kill a good mood, too.) I have a playlist on iTunes called “Faves” and it’s full of the happiest, funkiest, up-tempo tracks in my collection. Tracks with any negative association, no matter how small, don’t make it onto this playlist so it’s sure to put a smile back on my face.
- Writing: Am I lonely because I write to or do I write because I’m lonely? Whatever the answer, I know that spending time with characters I know and love is almost as good as being with my friends. I understand these people and I enjoy spending time with them. What I do have to be careful of is writing scenes that further chip away at feelings of isolation so I write scenes in which my characters have fun. I know I may never use these scenes but I find it a good exercise for me.
- Check the Calendar: I have many wonderful things to look forward to so flicking through the calendar reminds me that I’ll soon be celebrating happy occasions with people I love.
- Housework: If you ever see me cleaning–and I mean really cleaning–you’ll know I’m upset. Like exercise, housework helps me to feel like I’ve accomplished something. In addition, I can enhance it through listening to music or an audiobook to keep my mind off being alone.