About loneliness

Irena, Almost 71

After my divorce, I lived 25 years alone. In an effort to survive, I didn’t have time to think about being lonely until the weekends came. I remember how I hated weekends. I would start planning something already on Thursdays. Looking through the newspapers, to see if there something good happening. By good, I mean a free or cheap entertainment. Movies were an option, but my anxiety at being alone prevented me from really enjoying the entertainment. I would go around visiting my handful of friends I had. I lived in a relatively big city, but I was alone and lonely. 

Then there is the stratum of citizens that are having the hardest time being alone. Older retired people, some of whom are heartbroken from the death of their spouse or disillusioned after divorce. Retirement removes the daily routine and responsibility of going to work. Without any hobby to fill in their free time, they become grouchy, depressed, sick, miserable, lonely. 

I am married, but I am lonely sometimes. It goes like this: I am miserable, I don’t talk to my husband because he hurt me. He was rude! He offended me. He cut me off. He didn’t let me finish my sentence. Apparently, he knew what I wanted to say. And so, we walk by each other without a word, without eye contact. I walk and look through him. He is not there; he is invisible to me now. 

I talk to myself about what a rude and disrespectful jerk he is. I have tears in my eyes whenever I think about the deep perceived injustice that happened to me. Nevertheless, after a few hours the veil of invisibility dissipates, and I forget why I’m not talking to him. Then there is the awkward situation. When we pass by each other, he has his eyes full of remorse and says “hi.” He has no clue what happened or why. So, I say “hi” back, and it’s over. “What can I do for you?” he asks, and I offer to make a dinner together. 

There is that strange loneliness when there should not be any reason for it: people who live together, but don’t talk or see each other much; a family breaking apart when the kids leave home. Of course, there are marriages that never lose their spark, but I am not writing about that. I am exploring loneliness.

This entry was posted in 70candles, Attitudes about aging, Family matters, Loneliness and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to About loneliness

  1. Kate says:

    Maybe communication is the key in such cases? I don’t know if a specialist can help but I would definitely try couple counceling.

  2. Mary Alice says:

    Irena, is there any way for you and your husband to go to couples counseling? If you could find ways to live together with less anger, you’d both benefit. If he won’t go, perhaps you could go on your own.

    Even happy marriages aren’t perfect. Sometimes both people have to be willing to make changes so they can be happy in the now.

    These are our last years. It’s up to us to figure out how to make them work.

  3. gail katz says:

    This is powerful reflection. Very much so. And it says a lot about life and relationships.
    I am sorry for your loneliness and am happy that you are at the point where you forget about what caused the hurt between you and your husband and join together again. Sounds like you and I share some DNA! I’ve always been uber-sensitive to perceived dismissive behaviors, due mainly to my own insecurities. This goes as far back as I can remember and at 69, still occurs today with my husband and others as well. I, too, often forget why I’m angry and am working hard to realize that I don’t have to be in the spotlight to be accepted and loved.
    It’s a tough lesson to learn, as it was modeled by my mother and I am genetically inclined, I believe, to have embraced those feelings and behaviors. Wish that weren’t true, but it is. So, lifelong struggle with therapy all the way!
    Work was for me, the best thing that could happen. The only place where I could bury myself in purpose. Sure, I felt the sting of insulting behaviors and the resulting angers but mostly coming from that same insecure place. Overall, work was an oasis in the desert for me. Purposeful and productive are happy places.
    And like you, I’ve always had a handful of close friends and that was all I wanted. I don’t like group outings and love being with one-on-one with a wonderful friend for long conversations and connection. People who *get* me and vice versa.
    As I’m aging, I’m seeing things differently and trying to accept myself as I am. As well, I’m looking to cut people breaks and not be so hard on them. It sounds trite and dated to say that you have to love yourself before you can love others, but I truly believe it.
    Aging is not fun, not for me anyway. I wrote about that in my submission which is below yours. But though it doesn’t always work, I am trying to become both a more secure individual and one who is able to not take perceived insults and dismissive behaviors so personally.
    Sometimes it’s better to speak up and say exactly what you’re feeling and why. “You didn’t answer me, is that TV commercial really more important than I?”
    It is possible your hub’s hearing is not what it used to be.
    On the other hand, if you’re with a friend who constantly cuts you down and thinks it’s funny, it’s time to let them know, that “No, you may not insult me any longer.” It may end the friendship, but if they can’t change, who wants a relationship like that?
    I found a document in 2015, when my daughter was 25, that listed a bunch of behaviors my daughter didn’t like about me. Things she learned in childhood about her mother that she didn’t want to repeat. It virtually ripped my heart out as I knew I had made mistakes but these were things I felt I had no control over. Or that I thought she understood. It was terrible. Following were pages and pages of how my behavior was such a burden for her. Just a year or so before that, she had given me a homemade birthday card, carefully made with older photos of us, our dog, etc., with a lovely poem running through as photo captions. It was so amazing. She brought up some wonderful memories from when she was a child. And she closed it so lovingly. It was like a gift of acceptance and love that I interpreted as the beginning of our adult relationship, the end of a rocky adolescent period. So finding that horrible list of putdowns in just a few years was shocking and ghastly. Little by little, I am beginning to break through the hurt and realize that perhaps she was simply trying to separate once again from me. If not, and she really doesn’t like me or blames me for some of the things she’s internally fighting in life, there is truly nothing I can do. I asked her a few years back if there was anything I had done to upset her that we could talk through and she was curt and unforthcoming. We still have a relationship where we act as if nothing happened. And that’s Ok with me now because it’s all I have. I can’t change myself and am trying my best to stop walking on eggshells with her. Just to be me. I have never been an overbearing or domineering mom like my mother was. It was a promise I made to myself to allow my child to make her own decisions and just try to be her cheerleader and guide. Anyway, just wanted to share this because it is possibly the most impacting hurt in my life, especially since it was such a blindside.
    I wish you well, Irena, and remember, acceptance of yourself will go a long way to help you let go of that hurt and anger. We are always wasting precious time when we allow others to impact us negatively. And now, it is especially critical to resolve these issues within ourselves and to communicate about those that just don’t sit so well.
    Thanks for sharing your story!

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