*Deep breath* Well, this is a pretty tough post to write. I’ve umm’d and ahh’d about whether or not to write it but I’ve reached a chuck-caution-to-the-wind kinda place and I’m just biting the bullet. So, here goes, confession time: I’ve been experiencing really heavy feelings of loneliness and isolation recently. And just admitting that out loud makes me feel silly and embarrassed, but to whatever extent someone can relate or it might help somebody else, I’ve gotta be willing to put myself out there.
So, for background: I’m single, I live alone, I’m an introvert. That’s a pretty heady cocktail right there. I love all of those three things in and of themselves, but sometimes, they just whip themselves up into a weird not-particularly-tasty stew, that I didn’t order.
I really love my life. I have a career I adore, I live in a wicked area, my family are amazing (though too far away for my liking), I have a puppy – he rocks. But every now and then, this internal narrative starts with a whisper; ‘You have no friends, no one cares about you, you’re alone, it’s just you.’ That swirls around my head a little. If it happens to be around the time I’m menstruating, I can just rack it up to ‘well, ain’t these hormones a bitch!’ and be all logical and rational about it. But then other times, that whisper just makes itself louder and louder until it finally all came to a head last Saturday and I spent the majority of the day in my flat weeping, that kinda snot and mascara filled breathless weeping that you have no control over. In fairness, it’d been a while since I’d had one of those peak-level sobs, so I think I was just overdue and crying about a ton o’ shit and we all need to do that sometimes so, whatevs.
But back to the loneliness and isolation thing. It ain’t a nice feeling. Logically, I know I have friends, great ones at that. I know if I were to tell them this, they’d be pretty horrified that I feel this way and they’d have my back (as proof, I’ve told a couple of those said friends over the past week and they responded exactly like that). But in the moment, when that narrative is doing a real number on you and dialing it all the way up to Dynasty-level drama, not only do you have no friends, NO ONE likes you or sure, you might have people who are friends, but you’re not really a priority to them, 10 people rank before you, you can’t really go to them with your problems.
Then you factor in what I do for a living: I spend all my days being a beacon of light and positivity and motivation for people as a spin instructor. I adore what I do and put my entire soul into it every time. I don’t think anyone could ever accuse me of half arsing my job. When you do what I do, at the level and with the passion and intensity with which I do it, as glorious as it is, it is exhausting. Constantly giving your energy to other people – there are times I get off that bike and it’s all I can do to just lie down in a dark room. I have nothing left. Nothing for me. And I have no one who really understands the intensity of that and the toll it takes.
Side note: what do I look for in a man? One who’ll see what I do for a living, show up after one of my classes, give me a lift home, cook me dinner, look after me a little bit, then go home ’cause he understands I need to be up at 4am.
From conversations I’ve had with people lately, I’m seen as a super strong woman, who has her shit together and doesn’t need anything. First of all, thanks! *hair flick* I’m definitely strong, I do have my shit together (to a reasonable degree), but damn, sometimes all that makes me feel like I have no space to be vulnerable, ya know? And damn, being vulnerable ain’t exactly my strong suit to begin with but when you know there are a ton of people looking at you as the strong one, it just makes your chest a little tight sometimes.
So, why am I sharing this? (Not the shout out there for eligible bachelors in the market for exhausted spin instructors, I mean the loneliness and isolation thing in general) Well, because I’ve been reading a few things recently about the impact of loneliness, particularly on older people, but I just have a hunch that I’m not the only person in my age bracket who feels this way. We’re in an age where we watch other people’s lives through our phone screens and it makes it too easy to just retreat. My introversion loves to let me do that. But walling ourselves off can escalate all too quickly.
So I guess this is just a little note to myself and to anyone else who might feel the same: it’s OK to be vulnerable, it’s OK to reach out. People can’t read your mind. No one’s going to know what you’re going through and how you feel unless you take the leap to trust someone enough to tell them.
Make some plans, arrange some hangs with friends, force yourself to go to them – that’s where I’m at right now. I’m not gonna let this thing get the better of me. It’s within my power to change the narrative here, so that’s what I’m gonna do. Fellow introverts and lonely and isolated people, join me!