Loneliness & Time

Alone. Yes, that’s the key word, the most awful word in the English tongue. Murder doesn’t hold a candle to it and hell is only a poor synonym. Stephen King

So, today I’d like to talk a bit about loneliness. In many ways, it’s a very personal subject, even though I do have wonderful friends and great parents in my life, but having a good buffer against loneliness doesn’t necessarily protect you from feeling it every now and then. I’m pretty sure you’ve all felt it a time or two, creeping up in the dark hours of the night, or while you’re at the movie’s all alone because your friends were simply too busy to join but you refuse to let that stop you from doing what you enjoy. Yes, you may even be in the most loving of relationships and still, when communication fails for one reason or another, despite being with two, you may feel lonelier than ever. And Facebook surely won’t be of much help.

beach, cute, loneliness, love, teddy

Taken from Favim

But what is it about loneliness? Why can it turn some of the most sparkly people in the world into sobbing little creatures in less than a second? Well, for one, it’s simply dreadful. Apart from the stress it causes and some of the possible resulting health conditions (yes, too much loneliness can even be dangerous), it weighs down heavily on your self-esteem. Feeling lonely equals a complete disconnect from your environment and the people around you, as if you’re stuck inside a bubble, screaming, but remaining unheard. You want to reach out but you don’t, because you feel embarrassed and you’re unable to see just how many people in the world are experiencing the same thing – you’re cut off from yourself, and everyone else.

For another, it’s as if when you’re lonely, something happens to your sensory experiences as well. Just this morning, I read an article written by Robin McKie for The Guardian (which you can find here). It talks about BBC’s Radio 4 presenter Claudia Hammond‘s view on our perception of time, and how it “differ[s] greatly according to circumstances”. She gives a cute enough example: “A watched pot never seems to boil, but go and check your emails and it will be boiling over before you know it”. Personally, I tend to experience this issue most commonly when frying meat – when did it get so black? But then again, in my case time isn’t only elastic, it’s very spongy too. Anyway, Hammond mentions a trial, in which some students were made to believe nobody on their psychology experiment liked them and a bunch of others were told exactly the opposite.

Is your teen an outsider in school?

Taken from High School Mediator

Conclusion? I’m sure you can guess: while time passed rather quickly for the second group, the first “reported times that were far longer than [those of] the test subjects who had been told people liked them”. See what I’m getting at here? It’s absolutely normal for loneliness to have such a deeply agonizing effect on people. Not only do they feel like crap, unloved, undesirable and whatnot, no, they’re quite literally stuck in a bubble, a bubble in which time passes a lot slower than usually. And until they find that picker-upper, that little bit of something that reminds them of their true worth, life may feel so slow it may just as well be running backwards – and in a way it does.

Taken from moonstruck

Memories of that day you spent on the beach drinking with friends, your first true love, the ease that comes with knowing that no matter how deep you fall – your parents, or someone, will be there to catch you. But when you’re alone, when you feel lonely? These moments seem as if they don’t even belong to you, as if you remember a past life or, worse yet, somebody else’s life. Yes, time may, as McKie tells us, “be the most widely used noun in English”. But why then, as King suggests, would “alone” be the worst? Maybe because, while in death there is no time, in loneliness there is simply too much of it. So when someone tells you “don’t worry, you won’t be alone forever”, believe them, but know that this “forever” you’re experiencing isn’t just a figment of your imagination.

Well yes, it’s true that loneliness can’t kill you. And yet, as King remarks, that makes it worse than death – the absence of time – and more excruciating than hell – the absence of everything. For, as Epicurus said already a very long time ago, where we are death is not and where death is we are not. But wherever we are and whomever we are with – the feeling of being completely alone doesn’t mind being there too. So, the best way to beat it? Fill it. With something, anything, that makes you feel alive. If you’re lucky, you’ll be up to speed in no time.


2 thoughts on “Loneliness & Time

  1. Pingback: I can’t help but wonder… | Wasted times.

  2. Pingback: It has you! | Secrets don't sleep … and sometimes they whisper

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