How Lonely is Alone?

You probably think you know about being lonely. Chances are good you don’t.

A special sort of loneliness unfolds when you wake up “old.” There isn’t a number to qualify it. It’s that inevitable moment when you suddenly realize you are. That stark realization seals it, there is no going back.

I never thought ‘old’ could happen to me.

Lord … my groaning is not hid from thee. [Psalm 38:9]

‘Old’ starts when your health fails and you can’t do what you used to do. It’s when you live on a limited income that no longer allows for frivolous spending on everyone else – or you. It’s when store clerks talk down to you because they need to prove their nit-witted keenness and you’re an easy mark; and when your children learned it’s easier to blame you for their life outcome rather than take any responsibility for it themselves. It’s when grandkids grow into busy lives with babies and gadgets you no longer find mesmerizing and ways-of-life and vocabulary you barely comprehend.

‘Old’ is when spouses turn cruel because you’re an unwanted reminder of their life’s limitations. It’s when the reflection in the mirror refuses to resemble the person you know is still in there or when you don’t hear the sound of a human voice, even your own, for days. It’s when taking a shower is as taxing as half a day’s work used to be; when you start counting paper towels, storing tablespoons of leftovers and you’ve finally mastered the art of cooking for one, which proves hardly worth the while. Old is when you weigh the cost of a telephone connection or WalMart jeans against paying for medications; or when you get on the scales to make sure you haven’t lost too much weight.

You’ve spent a lifetime depriving yourself to give to others only to realize somehow they missed the qualities you worked so hard to live by example – maybe you gave too much, too often? Somehow you’ve grossly failed. You don’t understand but you know the buck stops with you. You take the blame because that’s what you’ve always done best, blame yourself. Now they blame you, too. Should that really be surprising?

No one calls to see how you are or if you are. No special occasion gifts or cards arrive. At night you wonder if the next morning will be the one when you don’t wake up and how long it will take someone to notice if you don’t. You count weeks until the rent is due because your landlord will be the first to miss you. You keep things clean and orderly, not because you ever have company because you don’t. Order has become redundantly meaningless for the meager existence you live, but you do it so others aren’t left with clutter to pilfer, knowing chances are good they’re going to find the remnants of your life tedious anyway.

One day passes into the next and you rebel against empty boredom, hoping you still have cause to hope. You can’t imagine your life has a purpose, because it doesn’t, so every day you question why you are still here. You keep important papers accessible so when your time does come those will be easy to find … because that’s what you’ve always done, made your existence easy for others. That’s all you really know.

You stop looking through photographs because they no longer bring to life the echoing laughter and affections you believed were thriving in the moments of them. Now they’re little more than an aching reminder of how alone you are. You’re perplexed how so many good times could be so easily forgotten, so irrelevant, so meaningless, so painful. But this is today – and they are.

That is how lonely alone is.

11 thoughts on “How Lonely is Alone?

  1. This touches my heart, truly. I do not know about the “old” part yet, but still, a lot of what you write about loneliness, I can really relate to…
    Thanks for sharing the link to this post, it was a sad but wonderful read. Hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m feeling a lot less sad these days :). Most of my earlier writings were. I am actually sorry you can relate to this as I’d hoped it would be reflective in ‘living in the moment’ of those you do still have. Thanks for your read & comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loneliness comes if we only allow it to imprison us. God never intended us to be alone. In the book of Genesis God speaks of how man should not be alone.

    Ge 2:18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

    In knowing God’s intention for us it is our decision to find someone who will be a helper/ friend. The circumstances we are in only make it a harder thing to do, but it is never impossible. The stark reality for us all is that our lives become harder as we age. I myself can see the day when my wife passes (if before me) that my boys will not have time or the patience to care for me. So in my analogy it is important to have outside contact with as many people as I can. Maintaining a level of friendship if possible.

    The people of God are the best place to start. Finding a church to attend is a hard thing today for so many are geared for the younger more way ward group. They have allowed way to many things of the world and not of God. The older generation has been swept under the rug because we do not embrace the worldly change. But you can still find those who have similar circumstances within the church. We as the elderly population are the ones who hold the faith together. So you will find sincere and loving people if you seek them out.

    I refuse the devil the opportunity to tell me that I will never have any people in my life who care. In every community there are those who suffer in the same way. It is a great opportunity to get involved in their lives if only to be friends and the voice that lonely people miss in their lives.

    God created many opportunities if we can just get past the road block by satan and society.

    Mt 17:20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’”

    Mt 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    I have realized that my life must be intertwined with others. God never intended us to be alone or lonely. It is the hurtles we all create within ourselves that stop us from being what God intended us to be. Learn first that God is your comfort and company and all others are a plus.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is all good advice and inspiring, thank you. There are hurdles to overcome and you’ve identified some, but lack of faith isn’t one of them :). I read some of those scriptures this morning, almost used Genesis as my insert here. Perhaps it’s a more gradual process for me right now for too personal of reasons to go into here. Know that I take your words to heart. They will play over in my mind. Part of working through my deficiencies is writing about the most painful of them and this is one of those writings. The other part of this writing is for others to see the very real pain that comes to so many who have no voice. I am not alone in this raw suffering. Sometimes we need to see the pain to recognize it in those we love. I am confident my days will get better. I’m just not there yet and maybe there’s a reason? God bless you abundantly, Tim.

      Liked by 1 person

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