Willow ([info]the_willow) wrote,
@ 2009-03-31 12:53:00

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Current mood: thoughtful
Entry tags:about me, thinky thoughts

Random: Loneliness
Lately I've been feeling a bit like some kind of freak. I don't feel alone if I've got the internet. IM and email and journals and twitter all make me feel very active. And I have amazing friends *hugs you all* who ensure I feel love and fussed over (should I need the fussing). But there are several people I know online who talk about feeling lonely and not having people around them with whom to do things.

I think I might feel lonely on occasion (I'm not sure) - but there are times I call people and have a conversation on the phone instead of IM.

i don't mind if I'm a freak, btw. I just want to know if this is an uncommon way of interacting with the world. And yes, I'm going to bring it up in therapy. But it's still something I'd enjoy some feedback on from folks I know. Is this possibly an introvert thing? Am I a friendsexual? And this loneliness I'm reading about has more to do with ideas and fantasies of a romantic partner? For the record I'm not an asexual lesbian, nor am I someone who can't handle touch. But I can wait a couple months and get hugs from Zvi via a planned outing. And I have no interest right now in the kind of enmeshed emotions and dual focus that comes with being in a relationship. I'm very much all about me right now as a priority (no matter what comfort I give my friends, said comfort is not expected or demanded, it's understood I have limits etc)

But I keep seeing references to loneliness (no offense to those of you who've mentioned it who might now be reading this) and I understand that people feel the way they feel. I hope I'm not judging it. I just know I'm confused by it and wondering if parts of my brain are numb or something. It took a while for my former therapist to realize that being online is a social activity for me, not an isolating one. It took a while, but once she realized that, the most she did was encourage me to also mix things up as much as I was able to with occasional physical social activities. And by as much as I was able to, means she went from advocating I try hard once a month, to realizing that 3-4 times a year would be enough for me. Perhaps for other people being online is isolating. The theory had to come from somewhere, right?

I think I'd be lonely if I didn't have so many methods of communication - if there weren't people I spoke to every day, who make up my virtual village. I know I start to get phobic and agitated when I lose computer access - it's like a door's been shut. It's almost claustrophobic, like I sudden have no air vents.

If that's anything like the loneliness being described, then ouch. I loathe that feeling. It makes me want to jump out of my skin and often I cry. But so far I've been interpreting it as a need for a physical hug and that kind of company. And maybe I don't get it because physical company exhausts me so much and I treat hugs from trusted individuals as treats. And strangers touching me - well, I've mentioned my wtf about some of that before and have plans to swipe about with my cane in future.

I'm not sure what else to say, except that maybe I'm not as attached to my physical body as others cause I don't think it has to be involved in order for me to be social. Which isn't to say I'm not grateful for what level of ability and mobility I do have- I am. I just don't think I have to go somewhere and do something in order to be social and get social...(interaction? energy?) stuff.

Last thought: Despite how I handle social activity (various levels, etc), is it just that I'm comfortable being alone with myself? (Or me and the furbutt). And I mean alone as a concept that goes beyond the introvert vs extrovert dichotomy. Is this the difference between hermits (who're alone by themselves) and monks (who're alone with other people)?

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2009-03-31 05:46 pm UTC (link)
I don't understand people who are unhappy alone. As long as I have my internet friends, I'm perfectly content.

We can be freaks together?

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2009-03-31 06:13 pm UTC (link)
We need power coins, snazz outfits - a slogan of some sort.

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2009-03-31 05:53 pm UTC (link)
I think people are different, but what you're saying sounds completely familiar to me, right down to the furbutts. I may have occasional moments of loneliness, but I spend most of my non-work time alone and have no emotional issues with that. Every so often I consider whether I'd even want my life to change as significantly as it would if I were to meet a potential SO, and the older I get, the less the idea appeals at all. And I am different, in that often I will go a long time without getting on the computer at home, but that's usually because I've been overstimulated by online contact at work (since I have net&chat access at work).

I do think it's an introvert thing. Your comment that "physical company exhausts me so much" reminds me of the Myers-Briggs definition of an introvert as someone who loses energy in company and restores energy in solitude (wildly paraphrased). I do get a "skin hunger" sometimes, as a friend calls it, a need to touch and be touched, but like you, I find that answered by the times I plan to meet people.

Anyway, your post sounded so very familiar, I just wanted to say "I recognize this, this is practically me." I think it's completely normal; it's just another way of being in the world, and one that other people who aren't as comfortable/happy being alone seem to find incomprehensible, so they assume that we must be "lonely," because they would be.

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2009-03-31 06:12 pm UTC (link)
(I'm not sure if your openid is validated and you're getting comments sent but I reply anyway)

Skin hunger - is a very good term for the sensation as creepy as it sounds :) Little tiny mouths going 'Feed me. Feed me!' But I've discovered that my cat demanding scritches or using parts of my body as a pillow alleviates it somewhat and I can get my fill (like a gas tank) on planned occasions. Usually the most sense of disruption comes if something upsetting happens and the gas tank gets used up. And then I just -plan- an outing for sooner.

Also I want to nod to this: other people who aren't as comfortable/happy being alone seem to find incomprehensible, so they assume that we must be "lonely,"

That. So much that. And attempts to explain are seen as denial or something. This doesn't happen to me as much with friends - because people who are my friends have met me and paid attention to me and been slapped upside the head by me. This comes a lot from family [aunts, cousins, my mother] who assume they already know me and don't have to actually learn anything new since I was 5 and I had no personal autonomy.

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2009-04-01 06:34 pm UTC (link)
I wasn't validated, but I think I am now, but I came back to look!

My cats are totally my comfort, too; I can't imagine not having them around, but with them, having meat people around much seems superfluous. I live mostly in my head, and I have plenty of company there, I can occupy myself so I'm almost never bored. I think part of it comes from how I was raised, because we were always away from home over the summers, and often there weren't any other children around where we were, so I got used to fending for and entertaining myself.

I'm such a loner that if people aren't in my life physically, or connected to me online through LJ/chat, I lose touch. I don't mean to, it just...happens. And it means I'm not very close to my family, particularly since my mother died, as she was the one who was kept in touch with folks. Occasionally I think it bothers them, but they're all quite a lot older than I am, and I never was much in touch with them before, I don't really get why that's supposed to be different now. I always spent the holidays at home, why would I suddenly feel the need to travel? Although a lot of that is due to Yuletide. *kof*

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2009-04-01 09:50 am UTC (link)
I think if that's how you feel, that's how you feel.

I know I often feel far more lonely when I'm surrounded by people I can't relate to than when I'm happily pottering about on my own. I also know that I, personally, need in-person contact fairly regularly, and without it it gets harder and harder for me to balance myself, however wonderful remote social interaction is. Remote social interaction is definitely social interaction though, and not isolating, for me. (Alone-with-cat is also much different to alone-in-empty-house.)

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2009-04-01 09:52 am UTC (link)
and when I say 'in person contact', touch and skin-hunger is a very large part of it. It's one of the reasons I love massage, and gigs, and having huggy-friends as these are positive things that involve touch and being touched.

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2009-04-01 10:58 am UTC (link)
If I had access to massage (financially, with person I could trust, etc), I think I'd be quite set for life. All my non-remote social activities could just self upgrade from treats to perks.

'Cept hugs from my Dad - those will always be treats :)

It's good to get a larger picture on things though - so thanks for replying.

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2009-04-01 03:33 pm UTC (link)
I do get very lonely at times. I LOVE the internet, but there are interesting things here in Sydney that I want to see or experience, but have no one to share the experience with. It's that part of companionship I miss, the shared event. I've been without a partner so long I don't even pine for it any more.

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2009-04-02 02:52 am UTC (link)
I like having someone to share things with, it's fun. Festivals are more fun with someone else - for example. But I guess I also think of it as sharing if I go by myself and come home and write up a good description of what I saw and enjoyed etc.

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2009-04-02 04:22 am UTC (link)
I believe that part of my problem with doing things alone is that I have always had a romantic view of both friendship, and relationships, and that I would build something lasting with someone by this sort of sharing. And what has happened has that people have either been very close to me and then abruptly withdrawn (as Hans has done with me in the past 6 months) or the friends I could share things with have moved away. And to be honest, even when John (Artboy) was living in Sydney, we could rarely do things together if Alf (LeatherDaddy) wasn't interested.

There is also the fact that until I was in the workforce I was incredibly shy and literally scared to do things on my own. I've had to learn how to ignore these feelings, but there is still a baby Sidhe inside who just wants someone to keep her company and make it ok.

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2009-04-02 01:52 am UTC (link)
I do get lonely at times, even with having a roommate who sometimes wants to talk too much. But company can also drain and exhaust me, especially my family. Part of that is introversion, though I'm told Chiarians often have a problem of getting overstimulated and thus tired in public and in a crowd. When I was seeing a therapist last year she was trying to encourage me to find a significant other but the idea of stretching myself out and changing my life for another person sounds really unattractive.

You know that I suffered horribly when deprived of internet access last year.

So this comment basically says that I'm with you.

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2009-04-02 02:14 am UTC (link)
but the idea of stretching myself out and changing my life for another person sounds really unattractive.

I was in a serious relationship years go now. And I felt happy. And I've wondered from time to time if the reason I don't want a significant other is because I'm bitter or I was hurt. But then I remember all the huge strides I made when I didn't have to stretch myself out anymore.

All my energy goes to me now, figuring myself out, living, adjusting to living. Even when I was living with Zvi there was huge swathes of difference in having a roommate and a significant other. I won't call it selfishness in describing it for other people, but for myself, it feels like a necessary selfishness.

Over-stimulation sounds like another good word. Having an SO, personally, feels like there's always an agent of over-stimulation. But that aside I just don't want -any- over stimulation from any corner.

But that's more about why I feel comfortable where I am, than about why I get confused at the concept of loneliness (as in perhaps loneliness vs skin hunger). I'm now wondering if there are more people like myself, if what we call loneliness has more to do with skin hunger, than wanting emotional/social dialogue with other people.

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2009-04-02 02:24 am UTC (link)
Yes. I have to much I have to do for myself for my health and a lot of adjustments I had to make due to my physical condition that I can't imagine another person understanding or putting up with. I already have enough problems with loved ones who know my story but still get hurt/annoyed/etc. because I don't visit enough/don't stay around long enough/jump when they touch me/etc.

I rarely get skin hunger because people touching me has always felt anywhere from jarring to unpleasant to painful. My brother is the some way. It's okay if I'm the one iniating, but for the most part I have to steel myself and remind myself of the emotional component involved.

Online social contact is something I can control easier than face to face. If I've had too much I can disengage, and I'm already home anyway.

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