Chronic Loneliness in the Extended Aloneness
There is a difference between "aloneness" and "loneliness". Being alone is being without the presence of another person. Sometimes we seek aloneness to rebalance ourselves. I need alone time to think and balance myself.
Loneliness is not having emotional needs met. Loneliness can occur even when others surround you.
For me, after retirement (loss of coworkers), I divorced (loss of home, his family..) I moved to a new state (loss of familiar surroundings, weather, lifestyle,...).
I haven't lived near my siblings for over 30 years - but we kept in touch regularly and I would visit annually. That hasn't changed. It's still long distance.
In the 10 years since retirement, I've attempted many activities to gain social connection. You name it, I've tried it. A few times I've made friends that seemed to be more than superficial social acquaintances - but they move away.
In one case I realized I was the woman's crisis counselor and the relationship was not reciprocal. In another recent case, the woman found a man to date and I became history. I guess we were not really "friends", just social partners.
I have no children. Since retirement and 8 years living in my new state I've lost the dogs and cats I had (more loss), and I am back to square one in terms of "0" friends. 0 people in my life to have an emotionally intimate, reciprocal relationship.
As for men, forget it. I thought by leaving my dead marriage of 23 years, I would have a chance to find the love I always wanted. That dream was pounded out of existence with comments of my age being "an obstacle", and being told maybe I should consider a woman partner - there are many available women. Really? I am very open minded. If someone wants a same-sex partner, great! But, I don't and I find it a major case of ignorance to think someone could switch gender preference based on statistical availability.
But, those are just samples of my experience - not to mention the tons of scammers waiting for older women on the online dating sites.
I have volunteered and found that the joy of giving eventually diminishes when there is no "battery recharge" for myself. I have personal interests - but am losing the interests in the extended isolation.
The silence of loneliness, the lack of spontaneity, the longing for someone to share joys and sadness with, the lack of touch, the lack of frequent positive contact with someone familiar who I share a reciprocal, caring relationship with, has taken it's toll.
The flitting around, feeling forced to socialize have been draining and I find myself in almost total withdrawal as a result. It is painful being lonely, but it is painful playing the social game - alone - at this age.
I took a vacation a couple of years ago and while viewing an exhibit in a museum I wanted to share my awe. I made a comment to a women near me (similar age), and she looked at me and backed away as if I was going to mug her. I know that's only one story - but there are others.
So, now that I have no animals and all the time to travel, I find myself resisting plans to do so - alone.
Technically we take in the beauty of art or sunsets, or the laughter by ourselves ... but sharing the experience enhances it. At least for me.
I've seen therapists, life coach ... all I hear is "you have to get out there". Well, I have (8 years) and I am tired and beaten. The longer the chronic loneliness lasts, the stronger the depression symptoms seem.
Oh, I'll brush myself off and give it another shot, see what happens. But based on personal experiences, statistics, and social psychologist studies - I am not optimistic. As a matter of fact, I believe I've been too idealistic and now am swallowing a huge dose of reality. Retired, single, no children, no close family, no friends from childhood = loneliness.
Life is a grade "C". Surviving not thriving. Sustainability.
I am thankful I am financially in a good place and health is OK (though I know stress is taking it's toll).
An analogy I recently envisioned was eating from a food tube. It sustains life, but is not as enjoyable as seeing, smelling, tasting, and feeling the textures of real food.