Loneliness is an issue that is being more widely discussed nowadays. It has devastating impacts for people which are important to be addressed by society. However, when someone is facing strong feelings of loneliness, dealing with those feelings might be difficult but important nonetheless.
Living in a big city like London and having a Monday to Friday full-time job can be challenging. There are known cases of people zoning out on Friday night and not talking to a single soul until Monday morning when they go back to work. One can only imagine how lonely that might feel. Understanding and acknowledging feelings of loneliness might be quite difficult and making the connection to ask for help might be too much of a stretch at times.
Loneliness might be an issue at any age although it can be associated more with people who are older, yet they live in a big city without much of a supporting network around them. Meaningful contacts may be lacking and someone might be too scared or too numb to ask for help.
I have found the following excerpt from Olivia Laing in “The Lonely City” to be particularly insightful and perceptive as to what a person feeling lonely might experience. This is actually the first page on the book by Gail Honeyman “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine”.
‘… loneliness is hallmarked by an intense desire to bring the experience to a close; something which cannot be achieved by sheer willpower or by simply getting out more, but only by developing intimate connections. This is far easier said than done, especially for people whose loneliness arises from a state of loss or exile or prejudice, who have reason to fear or mistrust as well as long for the society of others.
‘… the lonelier a person gets, the less adept they become at navigating social currents. Loneliness grows around them, like mould or fur, a prophylactic that inhibits contact, no matter how badly contact is desired. Loneliness is accretive, extending and perpetuating itself. Once it becomes impacted, it is by no means easy to dislodge.’
Contact is desired yet mistrusted for various reasons. Usually, bad experiences from the past might inhibit the individual from forming meaningful contacts with people and superficial everyday contact leave the innermost being of the individual malnourished, hungry for greater contact and meaning. However, despite the desire for contact, the fear and dread are usually greater.
Dealing with feelings of loneliness and how therapy can help
Dealing with feelings of loneliness in such situations can be difficult. Finding proper help and getting support for getting our feeling of loneliness accepted, processed and then for us to be able to move on into meaningful contact with others might need time. Psychotherapy can help with the therapeutic alliance that can provide gradual healing through the processing of painful or difficult relations and mistrust to people and society that has been put in place usually at an early age.
Asking for help is difficult but making the first step and going to a psychotherapist is, in fact, the greater part of the work required. It is this first step that is particularly difficult in moving forward and asking for support is admirable in itself. The fear has been conquered if only for a moment – a relation is pursued and things can start shifting by crossing this threshold alone. Loneliness is no more for this brief moment; its precious gifts can be gathered, shared and appreciated in the company of another. It is loneliness and courage to ask for help that make us move forward, ask for help, reach out…
Are you ready to move beyond the threshold? You can contact me to book an appointment.