1. Shellie T. says

    My Loneliness is about me.

    It surrounds me all the time, no matter where I am, who I’m with, it is there in my presence reminding me of the past and my future.

    I can’t remember a time that I’ve had a long term friendship that fulfilled that void I have for companionship that doesn’t expect more than I can give, yet one thing that’s extraordinary about myself is the very thing that drive friends out of my immediate circle.

    That would be my loyalty.

    I see it as being faithful to someone, but my Mom says it is the thing that threatens every friendship I’ve had in my past and future.

    I get so mad when she reminds me of this. I am so loyal to my friends that I naturally expect the same from them and when they don’t produce that loyalty I am shocked and disappointed and they can’t live up to my standards I expect of myself to them that they run to others.

    They say I should have so many friends because of my personality and that they feel they can’t compete that I know everyone, and they feel insignificant, Wow! I FEEL insignificant that they choose others instead of me. Yes, I have many friends, but they all have best friends and they are not me. I have “surface” friends, but not a deep loving friend that “gets” me, that stays for a significant amount of time, I feel lonely.

    Lonely because I see other women married or single with a best friend around their shoulders when they are sad, or happy, and ordinary daily things they do together and I am alone.

    I go to movies alone, I jog alone, I do crafts alone, I pray alone, I sit in church alone, I suffer alone.

    My loneliness has gotten better in the last year or so, when all the sudden I seem to be my own best friend. I’ll be loyal to myself, if no one appreciates it, it’s their loss. I am an amazing person, and it is so sad that I may not know how to display that in a way that some lucky best friend can’t see it past their own insecurities.

    God made me loyal, true to my birthdate, I don’t see it as a wrong thing.

    But my loneliness is about me…

    • says

      Dear Shellie, Welcome to the Roadmap blog. Thanks for sharing this poignant piece about your experience of loneliness. I hope you come here and post regularly–this online space can be very welcoming. I hope it will be one place where you will feel “part of” and less lonely.

    • Karla says

      Shellie, it was very interesting to me to think about how loyalty and loneliness are inter-related, and I liked the thoroughness with which you explored this. Thank you!

    • Debbie says

      Shellie – thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I really liked this part and it felt so hopeful:
      “My loneliness has gotten better in the last year or so, when all the sudden I seem to be my own best friend. I’ll be loyal to myself, if no one appreciates it, it’s their loss”

    • Judy says

      Shellie T., I like how you structured this piece. I especially like this writing, “My loneliness has gotten better in the last year or so, when all the sudden I seem to be my own best friend. I’ll be loyal to myself, if no one appreciates it, it’s their loss. I am an amazing person, and it is so sad that I may not know how to display that in a way that some lucky best friend can’t see it past their own insecurities.”

      “Be loyal to myself,” what a stand out line and stand out thought. Thank you for posting here.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I felt the struggle in this piece to understand this situation or situations…I felt the pain in this piece and the bravery of opening up these feelings and experiences of loneliness–something that so many seem to cover up and ignore especially when it is deeper and involves difficulty. This felt like a very brave and open piece! Thank you!

    • Ann says

      Hi Shellie,
      I thought I was the only one that saw it this way. Thank you and I can now see that I am not alone in feeling this way. I have been on this road for 17 years since my husbands death. I am hopeful always that there is light at the end of the tunnel….thank you again.

  2. Kate Samuels says

    My loneliness and I have the same birthday. We have, over the years, become as tightly knit as the yarns we weave. She is my worst enemy and my best friend. It was some time in middle school when I noticed that she plays games with me; that she can perfectly abuse and batter and then caress and cradle.

    My loneliness is a demon that holds me hostage. She squeezes me and sharply whispers ‘you are pitiful’. She pushes the air from my lungs so that I am lightheaded and dizzy, and she creeps down my arms to make them heavy with hands tingling. My loneliness chases to find me at the hour when I am alone but not lonely. She plays with me as if I am a marionette, dangling from strings and dancing awkwardly with doubt and fear, moving with these notions that I am told to overcome. I deny loneliness. I laugh and think that I am better than her, until she suffocates my strength and beckons my weakness to quiet her with medication. My loneliness is a comfortable space within which I hold myself in romantic relationships. My loneliness knows my shame and has found a brick wall, lacquered with sealant, behind which we can huddle and hide. She evades discovery so that she won’t be destroyed.

    My loneliness is an artist that frees me. She hugs me and whispers, ‘you are special’. Loneliness becomes my muse and my advocate, so that I won’t leave her. She writes my diary and sits by my side to capture photographs in a field at sunrise. My loneliness forces me to chase meaningful connection and catharsis. But then I see that she is uncomfortable with others who seek her, so we take time to be alone together. We travel the world, swim the pacific, and drive the coast. She allows me to openly question sexuality and pats me on the back to say that everything is ok. She holds me and kisses my head like a child. We spill beauty, gratitude and love and, together, we receive them. I breathe content.

    But then, just then, she begins to squeeze. My loneliness is deceit and truth. She is ugliness and beauty. She is harsh and gentle. And she is, above all, possessive and clung to me for all the days of my life.

    • says

      Kate, I was so intrigued by this piece because of the polarities you described–how loneliness could be your muse and your comfort and conversely, a shaming belittling voice in your head. I teased out several parts of you here–loneliness, aloneness, solitude, shame…it might be interesting to make each of them a character and see what would happen if you wrote them individually as well.

      • Kate Samuels says

        Thank you Laura. As I was writing this piece I became aware that the polarities I described are similar to the tensions between characters, so thank you for your recommendation and insight! What a great tool for character development!

    • Shellie T. says


      Loneliness wanted to keep me lonely too, and write all the time, it didn’t want me to get better out of depression. I like your descriptions of loneliness and have felt most of them, very realistic.

    • Karla says

      Kate, in addition to what others have already said, what I appreciated about the way you wrote this was that you captured the spirit of the quote Laura started the prompt with. One of the things I really enjoy about reading this blog is seeing how different people spark off the same prompt. Thank you!

    • Debbie says

      Kate – these are terrific opening lines – “My loneliness and I have the same birthday. We have, over the years, become as tightly knit as the yarns we weave”. I was totally caught up from that point and wanted to hear more about this relationship. And you described it so well. I really enjoyed the ying and yang of your post. Thank you.

    • Judy says

      Kate, your opening line hooked me immediately and I stayed engrossed in the piece to the end. I like this creative section, “My loneliness is an artist that frees me. She hugs me and whispers, ‘you are special’. Loneliness becomes my muse and my advocate, so that I won’t leave her.” Nicely done and thank you.

    • MaryL says

      Kate, I love the way you talk about both the intimacy and the not-quite-within-reach qualities of relationship brought out by loneliness. This piece sparkles! Mary L

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Dear Kate,
      Is it your lonliness that evades discovery so that it won’t be destroyed? Or, is it you that evades discovery (of your truth) so that you will not be destroyed? I liked the ambiguity but I would love to know the answer. Maybe it is both. Either way, I think discovery would actually liberate both characters, you as well as your lonliness. I believe lonliness can safely play a smaller part in your life, and there will still be all those wonderful, self-nurturing, artistic and creative pieces inside of you. I loved the honesty of this very soul-searching piece.

      • Kate Samuels says

        Thank you Adrienne for this comment. It is loneliness that evades discovery by others, and it is me that tries to evade discovery of the truth. We hide together: me, loneliness and truth. There is that painfully productive- both healthy and unhealthy intensity- that artistic loneliness that serves me though. It is the thing no one else could understand fully but is what can, at times, make me exceptional. Or exceptionally different.

        My piece was somewhat vague- I really appreciate your feedback!! Please continue for my other pieces!

  3. Wendy says

    My loneliness is a friend who often visits me in a crowded room. As a child, I thought the world at home was crazy. If I spoke up, I would be ostracized. I would feel lonely until I was alone and could speak with the cats. In my world, cats are allies with my loneliness. They tell Loneliness, “Go take a rest. We’ve got it covered for now.” I could tell my cats anything, and they comforted me.

    When I was older and on my own, for a while, I forgot about cats. Then Loneliness was my weekend companion. We watched marathon movies. We ate junk food. We cried. Then I think Loneliness took pity on me and reminded me about cats. Once I had cats again in my life, Loneliness could take some time off.

    Today, I don’t feel as lonely. Over the years, Loneliness has taught me the difference between being lonely and being solitary. I have seven planets in
    Virgo. I need major alone time. These days, I work at home with my cats as companions. Most of the time, I feel content. But sometimes Loneliness will whisper in my ear, “When was the last time that you actually talked to a person? Perhaps it would be good for you to actually see someone. You know, interacted.”

    Then I take her hand and promise to do so. I tell her of my plans, who I would like to see. She reminds me of the people I love, who understand my language, who have cracked my code, who make me laugh. In the meantime, we might rub a cat’s belly. We might watch a cat stretch and remember to delight in the moment.

    Tonight I need to go to a networking mixer for my business. Even typing the sentence makes me grit my teeth. Chit chat makes me anxious. I think my friend Loneliness will circle the room at least once with me.

    • Karla says

      Wendy, I think I would call your loneliness character here– and loved the vividness of her many actions– Paradoxical Loneliness. It’s a very cool idea, that loneliness can bring one companionship, and the way you wrote it– it just rings true for me even though I have never experienced it this way. To me, that’s one of the ways you know you’ve succeeded as a writer, when people who can’t relate directly to what you’re describing get it anyway. Thank you!

    • Debbie says

      Wendy – I smiled to myself when I read these lines “Chit chat makes me anxious. I think my friend Loneliness will circle the room at least once with me.” I could truly relate to this statement!! Thanks for sharing.

    • Judy says

      Wendy, what a nice read from start to finish. The first line is priceless and this one, “Chit chat makes me anxious. I think my friend Loneliness will circle the room at least once with me” is direct, fresh and creative. Well done and thank you.

      • cissy says

        Wow, I love the image of the cats as the relief for loneliness and the idea of lonely within crowds as well, not just the more traditional view.

  4. Barbara Keller says

    My loneliness consumes me and confuses me. I have known for a long time that I was exceptional, but it never occurred to me that was why I was lonely. How nice. I thought I was lonely because I was unlikeable. This is better. I like being exceptional.

    OK, a note, an observation, perhaps not appropriate for this moment, but here it is. Everyone was so nice about the last piece I wrote, about feeling like no one was ever there for me. And that feeling is real, as is the feeling of being chronically lonely. If I had to chose the one feeling that has always always been there since I can remember, about age 4, it is painful loneliness.

    But these are feelings, not carved in stone, not the only feelings, not the ultimate truth. I have lots of other feelings, and lots of hope, and an ongoing growing relationship with God. I’m aware of blessings, and joy and beauty. It’s all in the soup.

    It is hard and it is good. It’s my life, which isn’t one dimensional. If I could chose it to be different, I would chose more people and less pain, but it’s my life, and when I can remember to be, I’m thankful.

    • says

      I like what you said here about the fluidity of your feelings—and how your life has many dimensions and many moods. I also loved the honesty of your last line, “and when I can remember to be, I’m thankful.”

      • Barbara Keller says

        Thanks Laura, you know I do my best writing for these posts. Fast and dirty and still they come out honest and nicely written. Thanks to you.

    • Shellie T. says


      It is a growing experience once we find that we are exceptional and therefore lonely, not the unlikable business. I thought the very same thing. .

    • Karla says

      Barbara, I think the stance/perspective that you took when writing this was just right, neither too far from the painfulness or too close. I also liked like that you told us how the feedback on this blog related to this piece, creating a kind of continuity that was very interesting to read.

    • Debbie says

      Barbara – when I read your post, I laughed out loud at these words – “How nice. I thought I was lonely because I was unlikeable. This is better. I like being exceptional.” I don’t know if you meant them to be humorous – but they brought a smile to my face. I like the idea that the reason I am lonely is because I am exceptional. I intend to borrow this concept from you! Thanks!

    • Judy says

      Barbara, you absolutely nailed this prompt and expanded on Ms. Hansberry quote with clarity and decisiveness. I like your ingredients and this statement, ‘it’s all in the soup.’ Well done and thank you.

      • Barbara Keller says

        You guys are my best and only audience. I get good feed back as opposed to almost no feed back and I am so grateful.

    • MaryL says

      Barbara, I loved the way you described a “lifetime of loneliness.” It just is, for some of us. Being playful, reflective, annoyed, sad, relieved … all help to put together that thick and creamy soup. MaryL

    • Hazel says

      “How nice. I thought I was lonely because I was unlikeable. This is better. I like being exceptional.” great discovery! Thank you for sharing.

  5. Karla says

    My loneliness emerges like the burst of water from a mountain creek after one of the rocks of the makeshift dam is removed, whenever I stop rushing through my busy life. When I was a child, my family spent many weeks in the Sierra’s camping near a stream that lulled us to sleep every night with its gentle burbling. My brothers and I spent many hours–when we weren’t hiking, horseback riding, or swimming– building a dam and then removing it, stone by stone. Each time we restarted our project, we never used the same stones—we would haul new rocks from the woods, or move further up or down the stream for a fresh challenge. We looked for interesting ways to divert the water, or ways to collect it deep into a series of interlocking, kid-made ponds.

    Away from our friends back at home, I would have thought that I, and my brothers, by extension, would have been lonely. We weren’t close as children and we aren’t close now, but the busyness with which we occupied ourselves as a dam-building collective definitely beat back the loneliness that often came when the staggering number of individual activities we were involved in temporary ceased and the friends and neighbors that were always in and out of our home left. In the mountains, we had a common purpose, something that was larger than each of our individual desires or abilities. Perhaps each of us could have dammed up the stream by ourselves, but part of the fun was the collaboration of “what would happen if we tried this?” or “how about “I’ll make a circular pond, while you work on getting the water to its mouth?” There was joy in feeding off each other’s ideas and theories, laughter at many of the more ambitious failures, and delight when a particularly tricky maneuver actually worked as we expected. It might have been in the mountains, with my brothers, that I first learned to be part of a team. Otherwise, I think it is fair to describe our family as a haphazard set of rugged individuals who were generally disinterested in what the others were doing and unlikely to consider what anyone else really wanted.

    My loneliness, as an adult, stems from the same source. I find this one of the more spooky aspects of realizing that my chosen family life can bear some striking resemblance to my family of origin, no matter how much work I think I’ve done on myself to undo the dysfunctions I was raised with. My loneliness isn’t rooted in a lack of emotional intimacy or “quality time” or the availability of the good and loving people in my life—I have all of these. The loneliness exists in the corners of my life where I make time for quiet and connection with myself and I look beyond all the busyness at the meaning that it being created by what I’m doing. Is it loneliness that makes me wonder if there is a larger purpose to all this work of daily life? It feels like it.

    • Wendy says

      Karla, I like the way you link your loneliness to an important childhood experience. To this day, I still feel that loneliness is often combated by busyness. Thank you for this piece.

    • says

      Karla, I love your description of the dam making. I remember doing that myself and watching my children consumed with such projects. I also love the honest introspection in this piece. It made me want to examine my own life with a lens of compassion and curiosity.

    • Debbie says

      Karla – thank you for taking us into a special memory from your past and then helping us see the learning in it for you. You raise many intriguing questions from a different perspective than some of us.

    • Hazel says

      I loved your description of your efforts to build the dam with your brothers. I wonder if kids will have opportunities to become involved in such activities in the future. I feel sorry for kids today as I think they are to absorbed in their gadgets; imagination seems to have taken a different direction. “There was joy in feeding off each other’s ideas and theories, laughter at many of the more ambitious failures, and delight when a particularly tricky maneuver actually worked as we expected.” I do hope our descendants get to experience this kind of joy as well.

      You had me with your first sentence and I was with you all the way through. Good writing; nice piece.

      Thank you for sharing

    • Barbara Keller says

      My goodness. So well written. Such a fresh point of view. Loneliness not from lack of people or intimacy, but loneliness from an awareness of possible lack of fulfillment. I get that. and I love the brothers and me in the woods story. I never did learn to work as a team, and that is a big problem. Thanks for the insight.

    • Karla says

      Thank you Wendy, Laura, Debbie, Hazel, and Barbara. It is such a pleasure to have my writing responded to in such a thoughtful and loving way here. I attend a weekly writing group and it is wonderful to listen to people hearing me read (something that I learned to love at Commonweal, and thank you for that too, Laura) and to get feedback IRL. On Friday, I brought my mother to my writing group and she listened to me read. That was really sweet, too. I find it harder to hang onto the feedback I get from my writing group, even though I write it down at the time. One of the things I love about this site is that I can re-read the feedback anytime I want. Thanks to all the writers and responders.

    • Judy says

      Karla, your opening sentence is so vivid I can hear the water and am immediately moved forward into the rest of your well written piece. With bravery and eloquence you explore the loneliness roots in childhood and the present.

      I smiled when reading of the busyness–an activity I know far too well. I love how you finish the piece with such loving hope and this question, “Is it loneliness that makes me wonder if there is a larger purpose to all this work of daily life? It feels like it.”

      Stunning writing. Thank you.

  6. Terry Gibson says

    My loneliness is like a comfortable old friend who seeps beneath my pores, pouring in as if thru an open window.

    My loneliness finds me struggling with new ways to work in my living space. Everything has changed; encounters feel stilted, brusque, conflicted, and even tortured, in my highly sensitized state.

    My loneliness reminds me that our love is still there; it is just different now. Today, it urged me to jump to my feet suddenly and do something with a heavy, awkward boat of a table we planned to move months ago. I ignored the searing pain from three steroid-injection sites along my spine, and heaved and dragged it. Its stainless steel frame grated against our battered oak floors, while I angrily, with tears flooding my face, stuck to my outrageous but purposeful work.

    My loneliness reminds me that when I read to my writer’s group at New Bold House, I only half-told the tale about me in Glasgow at 23—that I abruptly ended the story at the point where I felt I was to blame. The line was “I felt sexy.” I stopped short because, at that moment, I thought, “Nobody’s going to believe that a couple guys raped you AGAIN and it WASN’T your fault!”

    My loneliness reminds me of how powerless I felt after that class when someone comforted me for something I was not grieving. How I could not voice why I cried. That I felt ashamed then (not now), and that I do not see sexual desire in myself or anyone else (who does not hurt people) as a disgusting, shameful thing. I felt that before, but I am way beyond that today. I am a sensual and sexual being and I celebrate and enjoy that.

    My loneliness whispers to me the words my doctor said after I talked about the trip and my blunders there. “When it comes down to it, what you did and said was all about Love. That’s human and what we encourage.” As he doodled on my file, I tried to believe I did good.

    • Karla says

      Adore that opening line, so emotive and poetic. I also really liked the way you wove in the recent event of the table moving and the still pretty recent event at the Scotland retreat; both of these involved loneliness in very nuanced and unexpected ways. It is a gift you have as a writer that you can take the reader inside your thinking and explain how what you’re doing makes sense. I really love that about this piece.

      I also must say something about Mr. Shame, because it’s recently come to my attention that he is a Lying S*&^head. Who else would try to trick you into believing that you should feel X because you don’t feel X? Can you imagine Anger pulling that off– you should feel anger because you don’t feel anger? Or that you should feel sad because you don’t feel sad? Seriously, I don’t know who Mr. S*&^head Shame thinks he’s fooling.

      But I see you were onto him before this. Hope you don’t mind that I took the opportunity to tell you something you already know.

      • Terry Gibson says

        Thanks Karla! You know what’s funny? You write, ‘It’s a gift you have as a writer …’ and I am looking over my shoulder for the real Terry you must really be addressing. Some habits are hard to break. Thanks for the public admonition of Mr. “Lying S*&^head.” I’ve become way too complacent when it comes to that bastard. I’m kicking him off the high wire right now. Wiping hands clean. Ah. Rarified air. Sweet! I’d never be bothered by you pointing out things I might already know. Besides, my short-term memory bank needs a reboot regularly these days. I need all the gentle nudges I can get. 🙂

    • says

      Terry, I’m so glad that you are able to tell more of the whole story here than you could that day in Scotland.

      Your loneliness is a vivid character–your personify Loneliness so well.

      And I love what your doctor said to you–whether you can see it as true or not. You have never not done your best–and Terry, that IS enough.

      • Terry Gibson says

        That IS enough? What a light-as-cotton candy feeling! I will work on that one. It is a foreign concept but I am certainly not one to back down from hard work. Good enough just as I am? We all are. I like hearing that as I imagine where this can lead me. Thanks Laura!

      • Terry Gibson says

        Thanks a lot Wendy. I don’t know where ‘boat’ came from but it sure captured the amount of effort I had to put in. As always, I appreciate your input.

    • Debbie says

      Terry – these were especially powerful lines for me
      “My loneliness is like a comfortable old friend who seeps beneath my pores, pouring in as if thru an open window.” – I loved the imagery and then this one:
      ” As he doodled on my file, I tried to believe I did good.” In that one sentence suddenly I sat beside you in the doctor’s office sensing his distance and your hope. Cool! Thank you!

      • Terry Gibson says

        Thanks Debbie. I don’t know where that first sentence came from either. Writing practice sure rocks! The last line. Actually, he wasn’t being distant on purpose; there was a new person in the room, which made things awkward. His words to me were the sounds of great pride and praise–even after the scare of going to hospital, a downturn blip. That’s how I must see it anyway.

    • Miriam Connor says

      You did feckin’ brilliant girl as well as GOOD :O) I love your integrity and honesty. Thank you for the gift of it xxx

      • says

        Miriam, it made my day to see you up here on the roadmap blog. Welcome. I love having your voice up here. I can almost hear the Irish lilt now. I hope you keep coming back, and post some of your own work.

      • Terry Gibson says

        Thanks Mir. I appreciate it so much! I’m with Laura. It’s wonderful for you to be here and … yes, I hear that charming lilt too. Talk about feckin good music. 🙂

    • MaryL says

      Terry, even when people do not understand us very well, their presence is SOMETHING …. a beautiful entitle in which we can cuddle up for a while and rest. Very strong lines… thank you. MaryL

    • Judy says

      Terry, I love this opening line, “My loneliness is like a comfortable old friend who seeps beneath my pores, pouring in as if thru an open window.” The entire piece is filled with powerful images of loneliness that immediately drew me in and held my interest. Nicely done. Thank you.

      • Barbara Keller says

        As to the honest and sorrowful story you told, you told it well, and I’m with Laura. I have no doubt at all that you did your best, always do your best, never intended malice to yourself or anyone else. And I definitely think you should weave that into your picture of yourself. It’s not your fault. It takes a long time to incorporate that, but try.

  7. Deb Mansell says

    My loneliness is my writers block,

    My blank page,

    My inability to let go,

    My reluctance to test the waters and speak,

    I curl up against the world,

    I hide from the truth,

    Creating a brittle shell,

    That will soon be broken.

    • says

      Deb, I love the way you know the shell will be broken–that even as you protect yourself, you recognize that the courage to step through that protection is waiting to emerge inside of you.

    • Debbie says

      Deb – really enjoyed the format and content of what you wrote. Strong imagery somehow made more powerful by the extra space around the words. Thanks!

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I really like that this piece went right for the subject and how it evolved into the “brittle shell” line with the “soon be broken” line. I felt the tension too of this shell that is protecting but will be broken soon–but I wanted too to protect the shell…nice imagery!

    • Judy says

      Deb, my friend Joan once said of her writing block that she often wanted to simply post a blank page on her blog knowing that writers would understand. Cracked me up. 🙂

  8. Judy says


    My loneliness was a tango
    a solitary dance in moonlight
    where things do not turn out right

    My loneliness was a landslide
    where moonbeams brought me down
    denied emotions overpowered me
    I stumbled
    before nearly exploding

    My loneliness and I waited
    as always
    for our Fall ritual

    That defense against
    bone chilling rains

    Seeking signs of latchkey
    paper crunch

    We anticipate the dance and interplay
    of slow
    live crackles

    We long to roar
    merge oak-cedar breathe with Bach tones
    and join the wind Goddess Mariah

    Oh, to display our palette
    smoldering white ash

    But, alas aegis not yet arrived

    Our black rack

    E m p t y C o l d F l u e C l o s e d

      • Judy says

        Thank you Laura. Yes, a layered poem with so much going on in life right now. The ‘exit plan’ of the last prompt; a potential relocation from the urban live I so dearly love to a smaller locale—the downsizing thing; a hard look at reality and how we live the life we dream. I dearly love this new found writing community with its validation, strength and varied experiences. Thank you for its creation.

    • Hazel says

      The days are becoming cooler now and soon you will be wanting to open the flue and build a cozy fire. Perhaps not the roaring one that you long for but the cozy one.

      Really liked this poem.

      Thank you for sharing.

      • Judy says

        Hazel, thank you for your wisdom on the coming cozy fire. As you know, this poem was written nearly ten years ago and then adapted to this week’s prompt. The earlier version was read at a local poetry slam sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. Next weekend this version will be read at another gathering (always jitters). Thank you for your comments, dear friend–let prose and poetry be our guides.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Judy, I read this poem a few times and know I’ll be back for more. It has so many levels to it, I felt like I was exploring subterranean caves. Each time I thought I’d found the last, Oops, there it is. There’s even more here fascinating stuff here. I really liked these, “My loneliness was a landslide where moonbeams brought me down.” and ‘We long to roar rumble merge oak-cedar breathe with Bach tones and join the wind Goddess Mariah.” A fine job indeed! 🙂

      • Judy says

        Thank you Terry. Raw and dark, I know, but sometimes a writer just has to get it out–mess and all.

        And, I loved your comment about having to reboot your short term memory. 🙂

  9. Alyssa Johnson says

    My loneliness joins me in bed at night like an insatiable lover wrapping herself around me and entangling herself so deeply in my sacred space that it’s hard to tell which limb is mine and which is hers.

    I don’t know when loneliness and I became friends. As far back as I can remember, she has been a part of my life. Sometimes she watches from afar and other times she gives me a tight embrace.

    Growing up in a household devoid of love, but filled with an abundance of pain, anger and cruelty, I imagine that loneliness attached herself to my hip at a young age. Never feeing safe or loved at home, it was hard to relate to others at school. I watched as my friends and classmates flourished from the love and support of their parents while I only had darkness and rage awaiting my return home. And so I separated myself and surrounded myself with invisible walls to protect myself from the world and those around me. Sports, school, after-school activities, parties; I often felt like an outsider looking in. The loneliness felt like a ton of bricks crushing me.

    It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I was ready to start confronting my dark lover loneliness. Through therapy, I started learning that heart-centered connection with others is possible and that love doesn’t have to look like abuse. And the start of my spirituality journey in my late 20s cracked my shell even further. As I immersed myself in love-based communities, I saw how others traversed their paths of pain and loneliness and came out on the other side more fully healed and grateful for both the light and the dark within themselves. And I followed their paths of healing to start shifting the loneliness to make room for connection and companionship.

    But loneliness is never truly gone. She envelops me as I continue on my path of healing and as I more fully embody my Purpose in this lifetime. She is with me as I walk my path. But I no longer use her to keep others out. I now work with her, love her, and see her a commitment to myself and what I am here to do.

  10. Deb Mansell says

    This is the loneliness that I felt as a 15 year old……………………..

    At last the house falls silent, almost silent, all that can be heard is a dripping tap, a ticking clock and a sobbing child. No-one will come to her, she doesn’t want anyone else to come, she longs for sleep and the morning to come. Then she can dress, wash, go to school and disappear into a sea of uniforms. She holds herself close, when she can bear to touch herself, watching the car headlights gleam across the ceiling, brighten the room for a fraction of time then dull into the distance. When it is safe to sleep she sleeps a fitful sleep till two little faces tell her it’s time to rise.

    No trauma at breakfast today, he’s already gone to work, so toast and coffee and off to school. Hiding in the crowds she tries to forget who she is, what has happened but it nags her brain until she acknowledges it’s existence. Answers “Yes & No” to questions from other pupils and her teachers, tries to pay attention to lessons but always seems to be drifting off.

    Lunchtime in solitude brings more questions, questions from within, “Is today the day?”, ” “Should I stay quiet?”, “Will he be there?”, she can’t keep quiet any longer so she takes herself off to the deputy heads office and knocks on the door, waits. Silence. “Oh shit, what now? Wait, hold on, hang fire he’ll be back soon” So she waits. Why the deputy head? Well he also teacher English and teaches it well, has shown her how to write how thoughts and feelings are important and she believes he thinks that she is important.

    She is 15 and not sure what else to to do, something big is happening, something she doesn’t know how to handle. The babysitting at 1st seemed like a good idea, but soon it all turned bad, the kids are great, the money is good but the nights are a living terror. Her Uncle, he gets up in the night and comes to touch her, uses her and abuses her then leaves her cold and alone. She doesn’t know this is abuse, she knows no name for it , she know it happens to her, and she wants it to stop.

    So she stands and she waits,waits for the teacher, the deputy head. What will she say to him? “There’s something happening and I want it to stop!” He’ll say “Come in, sit down and tell me everything.” So she’ll sit down and tell all……. Well that’s the way it goes in her head. And I guess we won’t know now as the dinner bell has gone and it’s back to lessons, he hasn’t come back. With a feeling of relief, anger, upset all mixed up she carries through the rest of the day, then home to as “normal” as possible.

    Don’t let the side down, don’t let the hurt show, don’t give anyone the opportunity to ask questions, eat tea, do homework, watch tv and go to bed. Stare at the wall, hide under the quilt, till sleep, then morning comes.

    That’s the routine, babysitting 2 maybe 3 nights a week stay the night get abused school the next morning, home to be a zombie. Keep everything tight inside. I only tried to tell the deputy head once , lost the bottle after that. Just put a lid on everything and cried a lot on my own.

    • says

      Deb, you paint a vivid portrait of this sad and isolated girl. I hope you have learned to love her and give her the kind of compassion and caring that she couldn’t get back at 15.

      • Deb Mansell says

        Thank you Laura and Terry,

        I don’t remember when I wrote this, I know it was definitely after the abuse had stopped but I don’t know how long after. I was close to the edge of emptiness at 15, I’d been sitting for them since I was 13 he’d been grooming me since I was 9, and stopped abusing me when I was 19.

        Feelings are tough to feel right now, I cry after counselling as I daren’t let go in the sessions.
        I’m listening to Annie Lennox as I type and she brings all sorts of emotions up.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Deb, your story gripped me from beginning to end. I found it to be haunting in its quietness and laboured restraint. I feel almost as if I lived in the skin of that teen girl, while observing her as well. I encouraged her, felt sad and empathetic toward her, and admired the fortitude it took to sit for any length of time outside the Deputy Head’s office. I relate to and could quote so much. “Home to be a zombie” jumped at me because that became my prowess as well. Stoicism. This is so brave, raw, and moving, it chokes me up. Thanks for posting, for sharing it here. Hang in there, Deb.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Your kindness and sensitivity have remained remarkably intact despite the abuse. Kuddos to you and thank you for sharing.

  11. MaryL says

    Mary L

    My loneliness is snuggled up in the same spot as my creativity… in my womb. After the years of child-bearing were over – rather suddenly, surgically – my body got stronger, but I felt empty just the same.

    These days, I see a special place – think cherry yogurt waiting for a spoonful of peanut butter, or chocolate truffle poised to accept an almond inside, or checking for the first frost so I can wear a sweater I made myself.

    Everyone feels lonely from time to time. I figure that I have several options: -to cry, to feel sorry for myself, to just live through it, to go to bed, or to splash cool water with a smidge of lavender on my face…. and wait.

    Not long after, the swirl of emotions seeks a lovely malleable vessel, and into it I pour my treasures, drop by drop, piece by piece, jewel by jewel … This must be managed slowly … like making toffee or sewing a wedding dress.

    These days, I am focused on what has happened in my life and what I must tell. I have stories you would not believe, and maybe you were there, or maybe not, but come and listen. As I weave together textures – anger, sadness, jubilation – through the 1950s, 60s, and so on, I am scrapbooking my life – but not my story alone, rather mixed in with all those others: who watched the first moon landing; saw Queen Elizabeth’s coronation; who cried when Jackie stood there in her pink outfit grieving her husband; who cheered when Roger Bannister completed the four minute mile; who lived through the New England blackout of the 60s; who ate a Belgian waffle at the World’s Fair in 1964; who stood numb at the loss of love from my one and only husband, over and over; who tugged on my grandchild’s blanket, for comfort, when the storms came.

    My loneliness is so much a part of me that it holds me together. It is like the bath awaiting bubbles and hot water. It is my cocoon just before the butterfly is born. It brings me hope; it seals my history; it has no ending.

    • says

      MaryL, what I love in this piece is the complexity of your relationship with loneliness–and also how you see the gifts loneliness brings you. I especially loved your ending, “My loneliness is so much a part of me that it holds me together. It is like the bath awaiting bubbles and hot water. It is my cocoon just before the butterfly is born.”

      • Debbie says

        I have to piggyback on Laura’s comment. The very lines she noted were the ones that connected so strongly with me. Thanks Mary!

    • Terry Gibson says

      Mary, I love how you write about loneliness here. I especially love this line. “I figure that I have several options: -to cry, to feel sorry for myself, to just live through it, to go to bed, or to splash cool water with a smidge of lavender on my face…. and wait.” And the way you outline some of the stories you want to tell … it is an invitation to me. You pique my interest and I want to read on. Thanks!

    • Kate Samuels says

      I really love the end of the first line, “my body got stronger, but I felt empty just the same.” And this was very intriguing: ” I have stories you would not believe, and maybe you were there, or maybe not, but come and listen.” The voice really makes me want to sit and hear your stories. Wonderful, thank you!

    • Judy says

      Mary, what luscious writing. Every sense touched from the chocolate to the handmade sweater. I loved the section on loneliness options followed so sweetly by– ‘and wait’. Yes, let me please also piggy back on other comments. You made this prompt look so easy.

  12. Shannon Shreeve says

    My loneliness enshrouds me as if to veil my vision from seeing beyond its threads. It engulfs me as a dense and ever thickening fog that wraps itself so thick around my body that it seemingly takes the life sustaining air from my lungs as it attempts to choke and suffocate every bit of life out of me. It swallows me as the waves of the sea – tossing and throwing me about, taunting me with insult as it hurls me beneath its waters…filling me to the brim in its overwhelming power, drowning my soul beneath its fierce and endless pounding rhythm. Yes, my loneliness batters my entire being…attacking and re-attacking where previous wounds are still trying to heal, deriving pleasure as it mocks my weaknesses and taunts the desires within me to remove the scar tissue from a past too sickening to remember or even verbalize out loud, yet rewinds and replays in my mind’s projector on a continual basis.

    This loneliness that is solely mine…it talks to me as a voice of authority. The words it speaks often express condemnation and ultimate rejection as it derides my desire to move away from it and start anew. Aloneness has always been my bed-fellow and/or safety net as father, mother, boyfriend(s) and then ultimately husband have each rejected, abused and wounded me. Only in recent months have I experienced the unconditional love and acceptance of other beings who are shocked and dismayed by what my past life entailed, as I share snippets and clips with them to help them understand who I am and why I struggle so. Even then, my constant companion, loneliness, continually proclaims to me that I’m not worthy or deserving of more than what it provides me…and that too much resides within my bruised and battered soul to expect that I first could be truly and fully loved by another or that I could experience feeling “whole and complete” with another individual. Fear of the unknown and uncertainty reside within me as I wonder of the risks to be taken to trust others in a world that has only brought pain until now. I find safety in a few new friendships and attempt to submerge myself in the love and acceptance they bestow upon me…yet find myself yearning for more than what can be offered and find myself fearful that I’ll never be fully free of this loneliness…my loneliness…my constant companion.

    So many years have already passed me by…a lifetime with no one to turn to, no one to share with, no one to care about or love me, no one to touch or caress me, no one willing to look into my soul and desire me, no one really interested in knowing me…and so I find myself shackled to what has become familiar. Loneliness has become the status quo and I find it difficult to perceive my life without it. I see relationships, companionship and friendship all around me – I relish in the parts and pieces that I’m included in – and I experience from time to time what it might feel like to be fully alive and complete. I am grateful for my friends and what they provide me…so I attempt to hide my loneliness from them as it’s so difficult to explain why I need more than what they freely and lovingly bestow upon me. It’s hard to explain how friendship and being loved by them actually accentuates my loneliness…as it makes me more aware of what I’ve lacked and what I now so desperately want and desire…but fear will never be mine. Seems like a slap in the face to share that I need more…so loneliness resides deep within where it can’t be heard or seen…or at least that is how I want it to be. How can I explain that my singleness excludes me…that it hurts to observe the love between others as reminds me of what I’ve never had and that I feel “left out.” My loneliness immediately reminds me that I just need to be satisfied with “what is” rather than even considering “what could be” – yet tears flow as I realize how desperately I want there to be more in my life.

    And so now I do my best to mask my loneliness with activity and words to hide the sorrow that blankets my soul. The pain it brings assaults my attempts to change my thoughts and perceptions on how the world operates and my place in it….so I continue to wallow in the ditches and pits along life’s pathway being satisfied with some of the good things people often discard as they reach for something that is bigger and better. I’ve become accustomed to being satisfied with the scraps…yet realize that if I’m ever to win the battle over loneliness that I somehow must find a way to be fully dissatisfied and find the map that will allow me to walk another path.

    • says

      Dear Shannon, welcome to the Roadmap blog and for your very first post. You vividly portray your feelings of isolation and loneliness in this piece. It’s clear from your words how much you have suffering and that you long for the kind of intimacy you have never yet know. I’m so glad you wrote that you have loving friends. That’s always a good place to begin. I know from my own healing process, that there are some longings for connection that weren’t fulfilled in childhood that can never be replicated in our lives as adults–some of that loneliness can only be resolved by our own deep healing process–not by another. Good luck in your healing journey and I hope you keep coming back.

    • Debbie says

      Shannon – you paint a powerful and moving picture of loneliness. These lines especially resonated with me
      “Yes, my loneliness batters my entire being…attacking and re-attacking where previous wounds are still trying to heal,” – This touched me deeply – and this as well:
      “Loneliness has become the status quo and I find it difficult to perceive my life without it.”
      Thank you so much for sharing this post with us. Welcome to the Roadmap!!

    • Hazel says

      Thank you for sharing this deeply personal piece of writing. It is compelling. I wish you well on your next path.

    • Adrienne Drake says

      Dear Shannon,
      What I am struck with here is your honesty and the intensity with which you reach out and share your pain. You are willing to take risks with your life and your story, and I bless you in your journey towards healing. I loved what Laura said in her comment, that there are needs that were not met in childhood that can not be met by others “out there.” The miracle of healing is that eventually, as we do the hard work of healing, we meet these needs ourselves.
      Thank you for sharing such a powerful piece.

    • Judy says

      Shannon, yes, welcome to the Roadmap blog. You write beautifully and tell a gripping story of deep longing and loneliness. These images are vivid, “Aloneness has always been my bed-fellow and/or safety net as father, mother, boyfriend(s) and then ultimately husband have each rejected, abused and wounded me.” Thank you and great success on your healing path.

  13. Mary Carlson says

    My loneliness is the price I pay for living on the edge of things. I join groups, but always sit close to the exit. My work life at school involves a staff of 50, but I am alone in what I do. The edge is comfortable for me; I can jump at any time. The center of things makes me…edgy….

    I have been lonely for so long, I’m convinced that this is the way I’m supposed to feel. My friend, newly divorced, asked me how I handle living alone. I was perplexed by her question. “That is my natural state,” I thought. “Why isn’t it yours?”

    But maybe it’s not so natural. My heart is bruised tonight. Another insult at work. Since my role is so ancillary, surely it doesn’t matter if I lose my classroom. In two weeks, I move all my instruments and begin teaching music in a storage room. Why should that matter to me? Art is expendable. I am expendable.

    And I have no one to talk to about this. The heart needs a companion. I am thinking about moving a little closer, away from the edge, to the center of things. It is bound to be very uncomfortable.

    • Debbie says

      Mary – thanks for sharing this post. I truly enjoyed the last few lines “The heart needs a companion. I am thinking about moving a little closer, away from the edge, to the center of things. It is bound to be very uncomfortable.” I could definitely relate to this debate – close to the edge or closer to the center… Good luck!

    • says

      Mary, I too like the edge you walk in this piece between wanting to take the risk and wanting to stay with what’s safe and habitual. That’s a place I know well.

      I did question the writer’s assumption that, “Art is expendable,” extends to “I am expendable.” That’s quite a leap–and one I believe to be wholly erroneous.

      • Mary Carlson says

        Oh, no, not erroneous. That is exactly the walk I am on. My position, which equates to my livelihood, can be so minimized that it becomes impossible for me to teach. Certainly I understand that my value does not depend on the whims of a supervisor…but when one is asked to teach in a closet, the message is very very clear.

        My challenge today is to declare my worth, declare the worth of my art and the experiences I bring to my students, while living in the reality that it will not change the facts. If I do not do this carefully, I will lose the means of supporting myself and my child. If that doesn’t make one feel expendable, what does?

        • MaryL says

          Mary, you are not expendable!!! This subject makes me angry… take away the music and the dance; take away the playing in the schoolyard; take away art classes …. yes, you will save money, but you will rob the souls of the students and the instructors!
          What if the world were upside down. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to play, sing, dance, write, draw, and know that we are just where we should be …. The orchestra cannot do without the triangle. The book cannot do without sleeping with the words and the plot. These aspects of life are complicated, yet simple. And even you and I are on the edgy, I would rather be edgy than properly sitting with my pencil box next to me waiting to be TOLD who I am. Thank you! MaryL

    • Karla says

      Mary, I think many of us have the conflicted approach-avoid dynamic with groups that you describe so well in this piece. I am often surprised to find people who I think are at the very center of things feel marginalized, so I’m not sure that the feeling reflects your place in the world. We do live in a world where we influence each other more than we are willing to admit, and too many hearts get bruised too much of the time. I still think it’s worth it to move closer in rather than turtle up and close off, because there are some amazing people to be met and incredible connections to be found when you go this direction. So I think, anyway.

      • Mary Carlson says

        Ah! What a lovely lightbulb to guide me today! Thank you, Karla! My overwhelming impulse in the face of this latest conflict is to “turtle up.” I hope to think that I am more than a reptile.

        Yes, I agree with your comment about how the folks who seem to be in the center of things are the very ones who feel marginalized. Jeez, what a lonely world we live in. Here’s a great image: for the past two days I walked into our lunchroom at work, and every not a word was being spoken. Instead, every single person was obsessively checking their cell phone. We have willingly given up the real world for the virtual one.

        Thank you for your encouragement to move closer to the center….

        • Hazel says

          Karla and Mary,
          A friend from Oregon called me the other day to say that she and her husband were coming to visit next week and during that conversation she said to me that I was “amazing” and she went on and on about how she admired me and the things I do.
          I was left with my mouth hanging open and nearly speechless. I do not see myself the way she does, obviously. Wednesday I spent the night with a friend who had day surgery and needed monitoring and she asked me why I felt it necessary to beat myself up in my writing. Well now, I am thinking about that because it fits into the feeling of loneliness; like I don’t fit. I feel like I don’t fit anywhere.

          • Karla says

            I guess having spent a week with you at Commonweal, Hazel, I can’t imagine that you could feel that you don’t fit. I loved being in a group with you. I think your friend is right, that you are amazing.

    • Hazel says

      I totally can relate to what you are saying. Could it be the state of we humans to have to experience this life in a certain way and in doing so are so focused that we don’t feel a connection? It seems to me that we are more connected in our loneliness than in any other way.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Judy says

      Dear Mary, by no means are you expendable. You have this space and hopefully you’ll test the center of your teaching world with greater comfort soon. This is so vivid and touched me deeply, ” My heart is bruised tonight. Another insult at work.” I was right there with you.

      Is there a union rep available to you? A principal, a parent group (I’m an old PTA state legislative person)? Maybe those in the lunchroom checking their IPhones are just waiting for someone to make the first move and reach out. Or maybe checking for other jobs.

      Stay strong and thank you.

  14. Debbie says

    With your indulgence, I am posting a response to a similar prompt back in May 2013. It does not start out with the requested first words, but it does address my loneliness. Thanks!

    Loneliness versus Alone. Like a pair of sneakers whose shoestrings are inextricably tangled, tossed carelessly into the dryer, these two concepts have been tumbling around in my consciousness for the past few weeks. Over the past six years there have been many hours alone. Over the past twenty-six years even more hours lonely. For most of my adult life, there was no direct correlation between these two concepts.

    I have been at my most lonely sitting in the gathering darkness of evening next to a partner who peaked hours ago, beers raised high, and now sits motionless in the dull sleep of the inebriated. Or at dinner, eaten wordlessly because of a renewed vow to discuss anything but work and finding there was nothing to say or ask of each other. Or on a brisk spring morning, sipping coffee on the sanctuary of the front porch, overlooking our private mountain glade, fervently wishing for her company and her kiss. Instead the coffee grew cold, and so did I.

    So many times, out of necessity, I spent time alone pursuing those things I enjoyed. It was either that or forgo the experience. For a long time, I chose the later out of some misplaced sense of loyalty and unyielding hope for change. After a while, though, the resentment of experiences missed, of opportunities to inhale beauty slipping by and options for personal growth stymied propelled me out of the door, alone.

    The Grand Canyon, the high deserts of New Mexico, the Hopi mesas, Rocky Mountain passes, sunsets or sunrises over the Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf – all alone. Incredible hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway, skinny dipping in mountain rivers, camping under stars, horseback riding through Sedona – yep, alone. Fine gourmet dinners, breathtaking views across the San Francisco bay, fine wines that danced along your palette like ballet, comfort food prepared in the rustic kitchen of a backwoods cabin – you guessed it, alone!

    So now, eighteen months after the official end of our relationship, I keep asking myself “Why does alone feel so different now?”. Why does the empty chair at the restaurant scream at me like an indictment? Why does the vacant front bucket seat seem like a metaphor for all of the mistakes made over the years? Why does the wine glass with nothing to clink against make me cry?

    So many of the physical acts are the same but the illusion is gone. No more myth about a lover waiting for me across the country. No more ring on my finger silently announcing I was desired, that a partner had claimed me for their own. No more saving a seat for someone who will hopefully show up after all. Just empty spaces.

    Being alone used to feel like a choice, a life affirming step I was taking for myself. It feels different now. More like a life sentence I must come to terms with if I am ever to find joy again. There is a growing peace in the aloneness, sprouting out of the lonely moments, replacing the drama and anguish of a withering relationship. And gratitude.

    I am grateful for the peace. I am also grateful for the years of practice, all of those times I chose to go it alone. Little did I know I was preparing for this chapter of my life.

    Alone versus loneliness. The shoes tumble on…

    • says

      Deb, you grabbed with the shoelaces in the dryer and never let go. I love the subtleties and the thoughtfulness of this piece–and how you delve into the gradations and distinctions between “alone” and “lonely.”

      This paragraph did an excellent job of showing us by example exactly what you were talking about it. That’s often hard to do in describing feelings: “I have been at my most lonely sitting in the gathering darkness of evening next to a partner who peaked hours ago, beers raised high, and now sits motionless in the dull sleep of the inebriated. Or at dinner, eaten wordlessly because of a renewed vow to discuss anything but work and finding there was nothing to say or ask of each other. Or on a brisk spring morning, sipping coffee on the sanctuary of the front porch, overlooking our private mountain glade, fervently wishing for her company and her kiss. Instead the coffee grew cold, and so did I.”

      And then when you talk about how the very same experiences feel different without someone waiting at home for you–wow. Very, very powerful, Deb. I loved this, “Being alone used to feel like a choice, a life affirming step I was taking for myself. It feels different now. More like a life sentence I must come to terms with if I am ever to find joy again.”

      Thank you for articulating for many of us what it is so hard to express in words. I guess that means….you’re a writer!

      P.S. Don’t worry about reposting, Deb. This is a piece worth rereading and a great part of this week’s discussion–that’s for sure!

    • Karla says


      I thought this was a very skillfully explored, emotionally rich exploration of the differences between being alone and loneliness. It spurred me to think about past and present relationships, and how shared experiences and emotional connection (these do not always go hand in hand) are more or less satisfying at any given time. I think it’s great that you were/are confident enough in yourself to engage in adventures by yourself and not give that up because your partner didn’t want to go– I know many women who won’t go anywhere unless their partners are willing to go. I think the clarity of your writing (and thinking) really served this nuanced piece well, and I really appreciated being able to read it. Thanks for reposting!

    • Terry Gibson says

      Debbie, I’m glad you reposted too. Wow. I’ll be reading this a few times. That first scene ‘in the gathering darkness …’ is so vivid and real to me, I feel like I am there awake in your place.’ And then I just dance with you through everything else. Me going to all those places, doing all those things, never, ever being hindered by a lack of a partner. As a teen alone without a soul to do things with, I wouldn’t go to movies or anything. Years later, I changed. I realized if I waited for someone to come and take me by the hand, I’d go nowhere and do nothing. Great job, Debbie!

  15. Fran Stekoll says

    My loneliness was born within me. Being an only child. I became a social butterfly, flying around among strangers wherever I landed, trying to feel accepted, loved, at one with my world.

    My loneliness still resides deep within my soul which penetrates throughout my day as a permanent part of my being.

    To compensate for my loneliness, I turn on music, the TV, read a book, call a friend, join a group, sing, walk, hug my dogs, eat something even when I’m not hungry, have another glass of wine, pull the covers over my head, sleep late, listen to the quiet.

    My loneliness has become my friend, my confidant, my soulmate, my lover.

    I am at one with myself now and realize it’s okay to be lonely.

    I came into this world alone and I will go out the same way.

    • Judy says

      Fran, what a clear, direct piece. Your last line is powerful. It reminds me of a line in Sherwood Anderson’s book, Winesburg, Ohio. I hope you are well and feeling comfortable. Thank you for this post.

    • Cissy says

      I love how this piece ends with the acceptance of loneliness. I wonder if anyone comes into the world already believing loneliness is an ally?

    • Hazel says

      Thank you for sharing your loneliness. Really liked your line: “My loneliness has become my friend, my confidant, my soulmate, my lover.”

      Well written.

  16. Cissy says

    My loneliness has been trying to get my attention since infancy. She was the one who said, “Rest baby. Sleep,” when I was infant to a teen mother who has boasted my entire life that I was the baby she’d have to wake up, that I was the baby that didn’t cry to be lifted. My loneliness was a wise fairy god mother making me find refuge in the sub-conscious.

    My loneliness was my devotion to comedy, the way I memorized SNL skits, the way I adored Burt on Soap who thought he was invisible when he moved his arms just so, who stayed with me while I played and replayed Steve Martin’s comedy back when albums were plastic.

    My loneliness was a magnet that flung pens into my hand so I would write in my journal. Though I despised my melancholy soundtrack I learned early that writing truthfully would lighten my load and my life.

    My loneliness let me find solace in food as well when people, including my own self, were too scary. And with bread or pasta I would try to sand down the edges of raw emotion, covering over the broken glass with towels before I learned it would be wiser to get a broom and risk nicked finger tips rather than walking timidly on the planet.

    I love my loneliness and her patience, as she courted me, guided me and looked out for me. In loneliness I have read, sculpted, collaged, rested under blankets in front of t.v., eaten too much and written. She’s a reliable and mostly gentle companion who only serves to soothe and welcome and mother. Sometimes she tries too hard to make me feel better and I love her for that excess as well.

    Me, until recently, I’ve been the ungrateful daughter who takes her for granted, doesn’t see her beauty, complains about her chain smoking and never sees the sunshine skin. No, she’s a home body, an introvert at her core and she’s not perfect but she’s loyal and loving and only wants my company.

    • Laura Davis says

      Cissy,this is so beautifully rendered, textured, and thoughtful. I love your acceptance of loneliness as a vital part of your life, rather than an enemy. You last lines just sang to me: “I would try to sand down the edges of raw emotion, covering over the broken glass with towels before I learned it would be wiser to get a broom and risk nicked finger tips rather than walking timidly on the planet.

      I love my loneliness and her patience, as she courted me, guided me and looked out for me. In loneliness I have read, sculpted, collaged, rested under blankets in front of t.v., eaten too much and written. She’s a reliable and mostly gentle companion who only serves to soothe and welcome and mother. Sometimes she tries too hard to make me feel better and I love her for that excess as well.”

      • Cissy says

        Laura, Thanks so much for these prompts. They provoke new writing that takes me in directions unexpected. I appreciate that as well as the feedback you generously give.

    • Hazel says

      How interesting that you have made this close relationship with loneliness. Very beautifully written.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Karla says

      I love your opening line, it was captivating and evocative, and a really intriguing conceptualization of loneliness. And I loved the ways you explored what loneliness has meant and done for you. Well done!

    • says

      Cissy, I started highlighting sections I wanted to post back at you as wonderful and moving–but then I found I wanted to highlight more and more and more–and that would be silly. Let’s just say this was brilliant and varied and honest and true. Loved your last few paragraphs. Bravo!

    • Judy says

      Cissy, I’ve returned to your piece often, loving it more each time. It is shaped so skillfully with words, images and textures. The section on comedy truly resonated (mine are vinyl in the form of Mike Nichols & Elaine May or Mort Sahl).

      But, this is standout for me, “And with bread or pasta I would try to sand down the edges of raw emotion, covering over the broken glass with towels before I learned it would be wiser to get a broom and risk nicked finger tips rather than walking timidly on the planet.”

      Good craft and thank you for sharing it.

  17. Hazel says

    My loneliness is . . .
    My loneliness is very personal.
    My loneliness is invisible.
    My loneliness is naked.
    My loneliness is raw nerve endings.
    My loneliness is holding my breath
    My loneliness is gritting my teeth.
    My loneliness is red hot.
    My loneliness is deepest black.
    My loneliness is buried deep.
    My loneliness is wide open.
    My loneliness is all consuming.
    My loneliness is isolating.
    My loneliness is roaring pain.
    My loneliness is in a corner
    My loneliness is blatantly obvious.
    My loneliness is flamboyant
    My loneliness is a battle to be fought.
    My loneliness is suicidal.
    My loneliness is full of shit.
    My loneliness is tentacled.
    My loneliness is malignant.
    My loneliness is apparent.
    My loneliness is a hole in my heart.
    My loneliness is a hole in my head.
    My loneliness is a blanket.
    My loneliness is smothering.
    My loneliness is smoldering.
    My loneliness is flagrant.
    My loneliness is struggling.
    My loneliness is mine alone.
    My loneliness is me alone.
    My loneliness is . . .

  18. Sangeeta S. says

    My loneliness is very sad. It irks at me at me and wants me to go left or right, but I sit with it front and center. It torments my soul and plays with my emotions… It sits in wait while I plan something fun and then strikes when noone’s looking… It eats dinner alone and then waits for the Oreos… It has my soul at the moment and only she can say why… It waits for 12 (o’clock) and then offers only 1… It lasts and lasts and lasts until the cows come (you know where!) hmmm, my loneliness strikes like a hot iron waiting to cool!

    My loneliness is a tempered-edged muscle of hope;
    my loneliness speaks Cantonese in the daylight;
    my loneliness socks of drippy wet counters;
    my loneliness grew from nothing and came from everything;
    my loneliness knows all bounds and no limits;
    my loneliness is a freak, a geek and all of the above;
    my loneliness is a tempered weathered battered shield from which I live;
    my loneliness used to hurt and now it lames;
    my loneliness lasts while I return–over and over;
    my loneliness is a fake bitch who refuses to get a makeover;
    my loneliness will hurt help fade and wash;
    my loneliness crowds the masses and clears the haste;
    my loneliness hails the supper and eats the grape;
    my loneliness could never know the true me

    My loneliness,, what a trip…

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I thought the language in this piece was strong–the variety of images and the mysteries–the 12 and 1, the dinner and the oreos, Cantonese in the daylight, oh, and the makeover line…I enjoyed the different directions this piece stretched to describe loneliness and the lines at the end that wrapped it up…thank you!

    • Judy says

      So many switchbacks to loneliness and you found them all in the most creative way. Love this line, “my loneliness hails the supper and eats the grape;” A vivid portrait of loneliness. Thank you, Sangeeta.

    • Hazel says


      What a great list! Each and every line is a keeper and might be repeated on any given day. Thank you so much for sharing.

      • Sangeeta S. says

        Thanks to everyone so much for the comments, support and feedback; this site is an incredibly supportive and dynamic writing tablet. And although I can be quite assertive at times, I sometimes still think the relative “creativity” in my writing is used as a bit of a shield so that I don’t have to more directly express what I’m truly feeling…
        ahhh, each new day brings a new opportunity I suppose…(!)

  19. Deb Mansell says

    My loneliness traps me in the corner
    Blocking out the light

    It tells me hush be quiet now
    You’ll keep the rest awake

    It tells me you’re a pretty one
    And leers with rotten teeth

    It tells me to keep quiet
    They do not want to hear

    My loneliness says lots if things
    And feeds off all my fears

  20. Judy says

    Does our expression and perception of emotion and loneliness change over time depending on our minds and bodies at the time. Thank you Debbie for reposting. These were my feelings on loneliness last May.

    Tell me about your loneliness

    I wrote a letter to my loneliness last week asking,
    what do you do when you are lonely?

    Come visit me?

    Are you forlorn when I’m unavailable?
    comfortable in my solitude?

    Are you isolated? Feel desolate and dejected?

    Let us strike a deal.

    When you feel the need to visit me,
    give a 24 hour notice.

    I’ll invite your antonym……oh wait………is there one?

    The kettle is on………….come as you are.

    Let us……………… have a conversation.

    May 17, 2013

  21. Polly says

    In my therapist’s office, I will invariably be found hugging pillows. Since I started dealing with the issues from my past, I have become like a small child who needs a beloved blanket. (A little Chilean boy I know has a blue blanket named Agua. The pillows in my therapist’s office are my agua.) Now I catch myself unaware hugging pillows on the couch at home. I get up and walk around with them. I’m Linus. I constantly want comfort. I crave it. I seek it.

    My loneliness is me when I’m missing my agua. My loneliness and I are one and the same.

    More than the loneliness I possess currently, I fear the loneliness that could come. My mom’s birthday is coming up this week, and thinking of that brought many of my fears to the surface: the fear of potentially losing my relationship with her once I break silence being the worst. This triggered one of my more intense panic attacks in recent memory, a few days ago. We’re close – my mom and I – and I desperately want it to stay that way. While I have a good marriage and some close friendships and a number of fun acquaintances, my relationship with my mother is of extreme importance to me. My sister who now knows about the abuse thinks that I could (and should) tell my mom soon, and that she has enough love and a strong enough faith – that she loves me enough for that not to change once she knows. I hope that she’s right, but what if she’s not? I can’t risk that yet. I just can’t.

    And then there’s the fact that the knowledge that her oldest son molested her youngest daughter for years – assuming she even believes me – would absolutely break her heart. I was somewhat of a rebellious teen (albeit a late bloomer in that sense, I still was) and I know I broke her heart at times when I was younger. Those experiences probably wouldn’t touch this.

    If I lost my relationship with my mom after telling her the truth, or if she were irreparably hurt by this information, I don’t know how I would go on. I do know that I would be lonely. My loneliness would be a knife stabbing at my heart and my gut from multiple directions at once. My loneliness would be pain. My loneliness would ultimately turn to emptiness.

    My wife has been present and wonderful to me lately, especially throughout the last week. She was supportive and really listened after my first group session on Tuesday, we went on an actual date Wednesday night (gasp!), Thursday she soothed me as I cried and hyperventilated, and blubbered about how I had to stay close to my mom. Friday night we talked about how far we’ve come. We started to discuss hard times we’d had in the past. I was honest in terms of the way I felt about her behaviour and treatment of me from a couple of years ago. That was my first mistake, but I realized even in the moment that it was because I finally felt safe enough to share that with her. Mistake number two was admitting that I thought she would react negatively to something current, stupid, and innocuous – but it was the truth. Point being, I drudged up the past in a way that was probably unfair. We fought. Or, she was hurt and upset, and walked away, and I tried to fix it for hour upon painful hour, which I couldn’t actually do. My dog bit me (it happens). (Is this a country song?)

    My loneliness became a bleeding thumb and a gaping hole I couldn’t fix with all the glue and love in the world. My loneliness became emptiness.

    She was vacant this morning. Distant. I couldn’t stop crying. She went shopping. She texted me from a WalMart parking lot to express her deep sadness. I called her. We both talked about our pain for close to an hour. Then something happened: we both reached compassion. We each found some answers. We really spoke in a meaningful way for the first time in a long, long time. My loneliness began to be patched up by a cell phone tower in the Canadian prairies.

    I am certain that it is difficult to be the partner of a survivor. I work so hard just to hold it together with all my might, but clearly I am not successful a hundred percent of the time, and it stands to reason that on occasion she sees my anger, she can sense my seething rage, and that’s not an easy thing to witness. Her loneliness is in part a sense of being at a loss, at her wit’s end, unsure how to proceed, and scared that there will be more of the same. I encouraged her to find a therapist to help her to gain the tools she will need to continue dealing with this, I promised to check myself around her so she doesn’t have to see it all (which I have been trying to do all along, but it would seem that I can do better). We worked through so much this afternoon, and I’ve never been so grateful for a WalMart parking lot and two iPhones.

    We have been together for eight years, married for over six, and I don’t know what I would do without her. My loneliness would be emptiness. My loneliness would be regret. My loneliness would be me without my agua, and my loneliness and I would be one and the same.

    • Hazel says

      We all have our “blankets”; our “Aguas” and who knows why and how we choose them but they are our comfort. You started out telling a story which took an unexpected turn in which you ended up realizing just what loneliness would mean if you hadn’t been able to patch things up with your wife. Good job.

      Thank you for sharing.

      • Polly says

        Thanks Hazel. I had a few different aspects of loneliness that I could see and that I wanted to explore. I hope it flowed okay.

    • Karla says

      Polly, I think one of the most moving parts of this piece was your description of how you and your wife are working through some of the difficult parts of your relationship at this time. I really related to the statement about how hard it must be to be the partner of a survivor, and I have said that and felt that many times over the many years I’ve been married. I think it is wonderful that you can express these things to each other.

      As an aside (to the writing)– I have experienced other people giving me advice about who and what and when to tell about various survivor-related things. It’s not that their advice is either good or bad, but that others often have their own agendas (not necessarily conscious, and not necessarily contrary to our own interests) and they may try to push their agendas on the survivor to meet their own needs. Who and what and how you tell other people (if you do, there’s no requirement that you must) is so important, so symbolically and practically ripe with possibilities of healing, that I think this is a decision that may need to come from within rather than from external pressures, no matter how benevolent. I’m really not trying to tell you what to do, I’m just a survivor who has been there and who has made decisions to disclose (or not) a bunch of times, and some of those decisions have been positive, negative, or a combination. It’s just a time to settle deep within yourself and speak whatever truth you need to when you are absolutely ready. Sorry, this sounded kind of preachy, but instead of deleting it I’m leaving it up in the hopes that maybe some piece of this rambling is actually useful to you.

      • Polly says

        Karla, this didn’t come across as preachy. I appreciate your insight. While I am positive that my sister doesn’t have a negative agenda and genuinely wants to help, I know this decision has to come from me.

        Thanks for validating that, and for your kind words about the rest of this piece. It’s always good to hear from you.

      • Hazel says

        I agree with you! As a survivor of spousal abuse in the early 70’s I can now look back and see that I would just blurt out, throw up, a quick version of it to anyone who would stop long enough for me to tell about it. At that time people mostly did not believe me and I seemed desperate to find someone who would. Then I would think, “Oh MY GOD, why did I tell Them?” I haven’t done that in years but sometimes I do tell some people as it seems to be appropriate. It’s better when you choose what to tell whom. But it is always your decision as should be all actions you enter into.

    • Judy says

      Polly, first off the writing is stunning. The image of Linus is wonderful and made me realize that lately, I’ve been squeezing pillows during my own sessions. I echo Hazel when she says, we all need comfort, no matter our age.

      This line is so powerful to me, “My loneliness would ultimately turn to emptiness.”

      I echo Karla’s comments. Wise and filled with some universal truths, I feel, especially this line, “settle deep within yourself and speak whatever truth you need to when you are absolutely ready.”

      You have a great deal going on, Polly, and you have our support, love and hugs.

      • Polly says

        Judy, that means a lot. Yes I have to take this one step at a time and do a lot of reflecting and preparing, before I decide to disclose. (That’s obviously the consensus of this group, and I agree wholeheartedly.) Telling my mom will require more strength than I have so far. Thank you for your support and love – right back at you 🙂

        PS it’s good to hear that you “get” the pillow-hugging thing. Thanks for that validation. I say we both keep doing it for as long as it helps.

        • Judy says

          Remember the line from Jaws, ‘think we’re gonna need a bigger boat’? We’ll this week I moved to a bigger pillow–it helps, yup. 🙂 Stay strong.

    • says

      Polly, you really captured vividly the struggles you’re engaged in right now. And it sounds like you and your wife are really in the thick of it, but the healing thick of it.

      In terms of your mom being devastated–yes, she may be. She probably will be–but remember its not your disclosure that will be hurting or upsetting you, it’s what your brother did long ago. You will need to give you mom the time and space she needs to process this–it’s going to tilt her world upside down–just as as it has for you.

      The last thing I want to say in this regard is that her reaction may change over time–over weeks, months, years. Her initial reaction may not be the only one. Good luck. I know that what you’re facing is very, very hard–please wait until you know you’re really ready for yourself.

      • Polly says

        Thanks Laura. I certainly won’t be rushing into this; it’s good to get that validation from you. I really appreciate your insight and will probably have to refer back to this when the time comes to tell her – but yes, no rush on that.

  22. cissy says

    Such an honest and personal and specific piece of writing. Polly, this moved me deeply. My favorite line is this: “I’m Linus. I constantly want comfort.” And the layers in your marriage of all of the feelings. Thank you for this. I’m a survivor and you brought me right back to the ache and longing and losses related to my own mother around sharing the truth. No easy answers. The ripples and tidal waves around the storm of abuse can be daunting. I wish you all the comfort(s) you need! Great writing.

    • cissy says

      Sorry, I didn’t post this under Polly’s piece. But I didn’t see how to delete it and do it again in the correct space. I apologize.

    • Polly says

      Cissy, thank you. Yes, this is all certainly challenging. It’s nice to hear that you related to parts of this piece. So good to read your feedback.


  23. Dianne Brown says

    My loneliness is 4:30 PM, time to feed Chris, my gentle, loving, giant Chocolate Lab mix. Only Chris is not here. Chris went to where our loving doggies and kitties go when time is no more for them here. He left me yesterday morning at 11:30 to go where there is no pain, no cancer, no bewilderment at his legs not being able to do what they always did.

    Loneliness is picking up his bone-yard that he loved so dearly and packing it out to the garbage can. Each bone was his treasure, and he would paw through it daily to find just the right one for the moment.

    I know he was met by angels and entities that lovingly guide our loved ones on to the great bush in the sky–Jesus’ pickup comes daily for doggies to take them for a grand ride in back. I know he is barking and yowling for the joy of it all.

    Me, I am so _______ing lonely without my large furry companion. It is just too darn big in this house without my 85 pound darling to help fill the space–and what about the space in my heart?

    • Karla says

      Dianne, I’ve lost an old dog, along with the joy and companionship she brought into my life, and your writing here captures that experience perfectly. I waited a year to find the puppy-turned-dog who is now 6 years old, and I wonder every day why I waited so long. I am so sorry for your loss, and wish you peace and comfort.

      • Dianne Brown says

        Thanks Karla, I know that sometime in the not so distant future I will fill my heart with unrestrained kissed and hugs from a new puppy who will once again fill my life with love.

    • Hazel says

      This is such a nice tribute to your Doggie, Chris. Loss is loss and losing a friend is losing a friend, but when you lose a soul mate, that is something different. I completely understand your loss and your loneliness. I thought my husband was going to follow our Yorkie to the grave a little over a year ago he was so attached to him. The house was so empty so in about 2 months we decided to adopt a Terrier Mix who was two years old. My husband insisted that Frazier was lonely as an only child so we adopted a Mixed up Terrier, Fritz about 6 weeks after the first one. What a happy household. We have a special place in our heart for the Yorkie and all the Yorkies before that one, every one was special in their own way. Peace be unto you.

      • Dianne Brown says

        Thanks Hazel, I know that day is not forever away that I will once again fill my lonely house and soul with a darling puppy who will kiss me into the next phase of my life.

    • Judy says

      Dianne, yes, a wonderful tribute to your dog, Chris. I’m so sorry for your loss. When our family lost our Irish Setter the house felt larger and lonely, so that portion of your piece resonated with me. I hope you find comfort and along with loving memories of Chris.

      • Dianne Brown says

        I decided to have a yard sale, and I have piled all the goods I intend to sell or give away on the favorite spots that my dog occupied most of his life. I know it is silly, but it helps me knowing that those spots are being useful right now. Thanks…..

    • says

      Dianne, we had to put our old pitbull down a few years ago and I know how sad and lonely that grief for a beloved animal can be. Sending you love and caring across the virtual miles. Thanks for sharing your grief here with us.

    • Diana says

      Your piece made my heart ache as I have an aging Lab with not many years left. I’ll give him an extra hug tonight, thankful that he is still with me.

  24. Diana says

    I embrace the loneliness of my broken place. I rest in the silence and feel safe in the solitude. By outward circumstances I have nothing. I live in a camper trailer on my employer’s property. My shelter and a small stipend earned by providing nanny care to their children. I ration propane for heating and hot water so it will last the month. Food stamps help me avoid soup kitchens and church food banks. Yet I have everything. I have been given my life back.

    My little camper is my personal cocoon. The story of how I got here is too long and all too common. To tell the abridged version sounds like a Lifetime movie script and even I get bored in the telling. My voice becomes monotone and I am detached so the recounting takes on the tone of a lecture on domestic violence from a “Women and Society” college course. Perhaps there is still the element of shame and self-recrimination in allowing such a thing. “ I should’ve known better” says the inner critic.

    The romantic version of my broken place would have me emerge the perfectly formed and beautiful butterfly or rising the resplendent phoenix or like Luke Skywalker, sure and strong with an unwavering sense of purpose.

    In real life it takes real work for the butterfly to break the chrysalis and she emerges damp and scraggly, dripping sanguineous “chrysalis blood”. She does not fly off into the great blue. She flaps her wings and takes a tentative flight, only to come back to ground. After many hours of trial and rest, she eventually soars. I have been told she will find a mate and die shortly after, living only a few days.

    I think I am like her, exhausted from the work of change, showing the signs of struggle and bloody from the wounds of life. Yet I continue to strive to be who I was created to be. As the butterfly’s flight is toward death, I am content to stay grounded and sometimes soar, to endeavor, to live.

  25. Bobbie Anne says

    My loneliness began when I was young. I didn’t fit in and I was made fun of
    because I wore hand me downs and I liked to read a lot and write. I didn’t have very many friends. I felt like an outsider. It wasn’t such a fun time for me.

  26. Adrienne Drake says

    My loneliness comes from not being seen by those around me. When what I have to say, or give is neither heard nor accepted, my heart withers. When I am misunderstood, my soul is not fed and I begin to starve. In self-defeating self-defense, I withdraw from all sources of nourishment. When I am not received, I feel alone.

    My loneliness is worse for me than grief when someone close to me dies. If this is a person who has seen into my soul, has known my needs even when I didn’t and has graced me with their love, they are never really gone. My experiences of those unique individuals stretch far beyond their graves. A person who has passed away can make their presence known. I believe these precious ones are my guardian angels just waiting “in the wings” to be perceived. They come, as a breath or whisper, in the delicate flight of a butterfly, or in the brilliant burst of the shooting star I wished for.

    My loneliness comes from dealing with the living, not the dead. My loneliness comes from those who do not care to understand my heartfelt longing, from those who would pass me by for another, from misplaced allegiances and from relatives who abandon me when I tell them my truth, exposing our family’s secrets.

    Can I ever be completely seen, heard, felt or loved enough on earth? Can another person ever make me feel whole? Perhaps, but I am not really sure of it. Deep understanding like that is rare. Am I asking too much to expect that of another person, even of a soul mate? That is possible.

    Although my loneliness has many sources, my happiness, healing and wholeness depend entirely upon what I choose to do with it. Therein lies the challenge.

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