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Thoughts on loneliness

I have just finished reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and with the book resting on my lap and the bittersweet afterglow that ensues, I am considering the subject of loneliness.

I wonder if we felt alone and afraid in that split second limbo whilst, untetethred between let go of and grab on to, we exited the birth canal and entered the world?

I wonder what we would become or if we would cease to exist were we to stop hearing the voice inside of us. That would truly represent being alone or annihilation.

Loneliness like Eleanor's, the protagonist of the above mentioned read, is like ingesting pain. It passes through your mouth and then courses throughout your body like disease; silent and potentially lethal.

I think detachment and isolation are also born of many smaller incidents in one's life (not always because of just one traumatic event). Experiences such as extreme fear, not being understood, ignored, singled out for ridicule or being bullied can easily lead to mental and physical detachment from an individual to a group to society at large. The more you shrink and fade away, the closer you get to disappearing altogether.

Eleanor aches for human contact. Most weekends from Friday after work to Monday morning she speaks to no one; sees no one. The only conversation is the one inside her head.

Perhaps this visceral need for contact comes from our beginnings.

The first contact after all, for everyone, is hands touching us, examining us, holding us as we let out a wail. And touch is the first of the senses that babies develop to give form to and understand the world around them. Maybe that is why it is natural and necessary to fall into a protective embrace, a soothing caress or hold on to a strong guiding hand.

As Eleanor discovered you only need to open yourself up to one nurturing quality individual, to not be lonely, and life becomes not just existing but living. It is not about quantity because as the saying goes you can still feel terribly alone even in a crowd.

Title photo by Bob Price


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