The Many Flavors of Loneliness

“There’s this moment in creation, when you’ve made something truly special, where you become euphoric. And then, utterly lonely.”

–John Mayer

Tell me about your loneliness. In fact, tell me about all the different kinds of loneliness you have known. Begin each paragraph with the words, “There is the kind of loneliness that… Make each paragraph a specific instance of feeling lonely, as in, “There is the kind of loneliness you feel in bed with your partner when you’ve just failed at making love again and neither of you is talking about it,” “Or, “There is the kind of loneliness when you walk into your sons’ bedroom and realize it’s been a month since you’ve heard from him…” You get the idea?


  1. Sangeeta S. says

    There is the kind of loneliness that eats at your soul and won’t ever let you go. There is the kind of loneliness that’s comfortable when you’re on your own and realize you have no responsibilities to anyone or anything. There is the kind of loneliness that is not a threat to you anymore because you know it can’t hurt you anymore. There is the kind of loneliness that turns itself inward and then attempts to jump out at you when you decide that you want to kill it. There is the kind of loneliness that hurts when you realize that being alone was what you had to do to survive and stay sane. There is the kind of loneliness that has already seen its final day since I started working with the outside world–and realize that the world actually wants me there. There is the kind of loneliness that will still be there (for some time) while I thrive (but continue to step out of my dark hole).
    There is the kind of loneliness that only me and God know. There is the kind of loneliness that smart, nerdy girls feel. There is the kind of loneliness that unpopular, smart nerdy girls feel. There is the kind of loneliness that hot girls feel. There is the kind of loneliness that I feel.

    Of all the loneliness in the world, the one I feel most now is of myself. I am lonely because I escaped from myself at a young age and now I am afraid of coming back to myself. I don’t know what I will find if (and when) I start getting to know me. Who am I what am I where am I– the questions abound. But I suppose noone ever got to know themselves without getting to know themselves–so I guess there’s no way around it! (I’ve avoided me for a long, long time–but maybe it’s time to finally meet–or maybe not…just yet). Maybe next week.

    • Ilana says

      Wow. Very thought provoking. I’ll have to come back for a second read. It takes a lot of courage to stop avoiding one’s self. I have been working on it, myself. Good luck to both of us. IM

      • Hazel says

        Sometimes when you think you are all alone and no one has ever been where you have or felt what you felt you just have to believe there is someone somewhere who can relate.

        I know what you mean. “I am lonely because I escaped from myself at a young age and now I am afraid of coming back to myself.” Scary!

        I have had to take a different identity in order to survive and the hardest thing I have ever had to do was take my own real identity back again.

        Thank you for sharing. Good piece

    • Polly says

      Sangeeta this is so impressive. I related to a lot of it. I love this: “There is the kind of loneliness that has already seen its final day since I started working with the outside world–and realize that the world actually wants me there.” It’s great to see that the world wants us, even as we are learning to want to have anything to do with ourselves … very well said on all counts. I also relate to the notion of having escaped from myself at a young age – so your piece spoke to me. From one nerdy, smart girl to another, thanks for sharing this.

    • Sabrina says

      yep yep, I’m a pro at loneliness. Disconnection it is called. It can be quite a chilly and hard place to be. I can relate.

  2. Fran Stekoll says

    There is a kind of loneliness being an only child and wishing you had a brother or sister to share life with. There is a kind of loneliness driving a seven passenger van empty. There is a kind of loneliness sitting in the silence. There is a kind of loneliness sitting at a table alone. There is a kind of loneliness walking into the wilderness. There is a kind of loneliness losing two husbands. There is a kind of loneliness cutting the cord after childbirth. There is a kind of loneliness when your children leave the nest. There is a kind of loneliness when a neighbor passes away. There is a kind of loneliness when a pet dies. There is a different kind of loneliness when one reaches the point in life where it’s o k to be alone.

    • says

      There is a kind of loneliness when your son doesn’t contact you from college. There is a kind of loneliness when your teenage door puts on her ear buds and scoffs at your friendly questions. There is a kind of loneliness when you move your mother into assisted living….Fran, you inspired me!

      • Polly says

        Laura, I just wanted to let you know that as a direct result of reading this, I called my mom the other day to let her know I missed her. I moved back to my home town a few years ago largely so I could spend time with her, and I just realized last week when I read some of your comments that I had gone well over a month without even calling or visiting. So since I called her, tonight she had me over for dinner and baked me a rhubarb pie, and we had a fantastic visit. Thanks for inspiring me to remember to reach out to her again.

    • Ilana says

      Fran- It all spoke to me but the line that jumped out the most, had me responding out loud, though I am alone in the room, was “There is a kind of loneliness cutting the cord after childbirth.” When my first child was born, after a difficult 34 hour labor they took her away because she was in trouble. My husband went with her. The doctor delivered the placenta, wrapped me up and left. Everyone was gone but the worst part was, there was no more kicking. I was truly alone for the first time since I found out I was pregnant. Thank you so much for honoring that. IM

    • Polly says

      Fran, this feels very honest. Thank you for posting. Now I have to go call my mom, and snuggle my dogs, all thanks to what I just read.

  3. Susana says

    There is the kind of loneliness that steals your breath,
    a Satyr on your chest
    clutching at you,
    pinning you down

    There is the kind of loneliness that feels like
    a dagger in your heart.
    A pain so severe
    it threatens to sever
    you from this life.

    There is the kind of loneliness that leaves you feeling hollow
    as a canoe dug from a single tree
    and indeed you feel you can float,
    float away oarless
    and no one would notice

    There is the kind of loneliness
    that the whistle of the train
    swishing through the station
    not stopping for you
    leaves in its wake.

    There is the kind of loneliness,
    a scratching at the door,
    a pursing of the mouth,
    a silent scream,
    and no one to answer.

    There is the kind of loneliness
    that just feels human
    the existential kind
    that you know that everyone feels
    in our separate ness.
    The solution to which
    is–to connect.

    • Ilana says

      Susana- I connected with your piece as well. It was comforting to be understood that way. I appreciated your allusion to the fact that “everyone feels (this loneliness) in our separateness.” Thank you. I also loved that you ended on a hopeful note. “The solution to which is- To connect” Nice job! IM

    • Polly says

      Susana I’ve been meaning to comment on this since yesterday. You capture the essence of loneliness so well in this poem. The raw emotion. It’s great!

    • Bobbie Anne says

      Susana, Thank you for sharing such a meaningful poem. Well-written and it struck a chord in me. I can identify with how you feel as I too feel that way sometimes. This is a powerful poem. Thank you for sharing it in this safe space for those who want to express themselves. Ironically, the opposite of loneliness for a writer.

      • Susana says

        Thank you, Bobbie Anne!

        Yes, the act of writing does indeed pull us–at least temporarily — out of our loneliness. We have Laura to thank for the extra prompting that helps us to let our loneliness in this creative way.

  4. Native Cadence says

    There is the kind of loneliness that stirs a fear lying just below the skin’s surface. This fear informs you in no uncertain terms that you will reach your end of days without the comfort of a true companion. Any shade of hope you may have about finding “the one” … ANYone…takes on the fight with fear but is no match. Fear and loneliness continue their relentless teamwork to bring you down, snuffing out any glimmer of hope.

    • Ilana says

      So sad and well stated. I’ve been there too. I hope that for you, too, hope can win that battle. Take care of yourself. IM

    • Barbara Keller says

      Oh, dear, you got it, so well put, so real. Do not give up. The thing about emotions, fear, loneliness, and so on, is they are fluid and ever changing. They are not the final word, or the law, though they may posture as such. They are not in charge.

      • Hazel says

        I have been taught that “when you take the energy off it” it changes. Focus on what you have to offer and remember all the good things. Every dusk looks forward to the dawn.

        Thank you for sharing. The feeling comes through in your writing. We feel it.

    • Polly says

      I like the way you put this.

      My advice (not that you asked for it): Keep at it until you surpass that fear. Hope can be very strong if you just hang onto it even in fragments. Find it in the little things, and let it grow …

  5. Barbara Keller says

    There is the kind of loneliness that comes for no reason at all, that’s left over from early childhood. Everything is fine. It’s a beautiful day and I’m doing all right and then, with no warning, I’m lonely and sad.

    And there’s the kind of loneliness I felt last night, because I was sick and home alone. I like living alone. But I don’t like to be here alone when I’m really sick. I had a bad reaction to some antibiotics, and was shivering with cold and hurting all over. I was probably not as helpless as I felt. I felt helpless. What if I run out of wood? What if I need something to eat? What if I fall down? With the knee replacements, I can’t kneel, so getting up is a skit on good days. (You would think they could work out the kinks, don’t you? “Here are your lovely new knees, oh, but wait….you can’t kneel on them.” It’s not that you aren’t allowed to kneel, you really don’t want to. It feels, to me, like hitting your funny bone in your elbow. Terrifically unpleasant.)

    I called everyone I could think of until it got too late. Then I emailed. I wanted to be in touch. Finally I settled on trusting God. I made a mental decision to focus on the fact that God is here whether I feel like He is or not. And as He takes care of me everyday – I have no illusions about my own great skills, intelligence and strength to make my way in this world, so I may as well count on His provision when I feel awful. How well did that work out? I still don’t like being alone when I’m feeling helpless, but I wasn’t as frantic.

    I’m better this morning and I’m really glad. I don’t like loneliness, that big gnawing hole inside that wants another person to fill it, to love me, to stay with me. It cries and whines and won’t shut up. It really is relentless, loneliness. You can feed it, splash it with liquor, take a nap, watch TV, and those things help, for a few minutes, but it’s still there, yelling “Do something. Why don’t you have any people? What is the matter with you? Other people have people. They’re not desperately lonely.”

    The thing about loneliness, like the longing for death as an end to this troubled life, the best thing, is that it passes. It’s here, and then it’s gone. So my rule is never do anything drastic or permanent about loneliness or death, but just wait, and usually it gets better.

    I read the bible, and it says He will put my feet in the right place so I won’t fall down, and He will make sure I have food and water and a place to live until my life is done, and He is my companion and doctor. So even though I can’t see Him and I’d really like a hand to hold, the loneliness isn’t so overpowering if I remember God is here and on the job.

    • Hazel says

      Even though I have a companion, I often feel so alone that I want to end it but I to have found that if I keep busy or read it will go away at least for a while so I can function.

      Nice piece! well written and interesting.

    • says

      Barbara, I felt like I was right there with you surviving that tough, long night. I, too, want to echo that loneliness isn’t always assuaged when people are around. Sometimes it’s just a state we fall into, just part of the spectrum of being human.

    • Ilana says

      Barbara- This piece touched me not only because it rings true for me but because it is so beautifully written. My favorite part is ” I don’t like loneliness, that big gnawing hole inside that wants another person to fill it, to love me, to stay with me. It cries and whines and won’t shut up. It really is relentless, loneliness. You can feed it, splash it with liquor, take a nap, watch TV, and those things help, for a few minutes, but it’s still there, yelling “Do something. Why don’t you have any people? What is the matter with you? Other people have people. They’re not desperately lonely.”

      I love how you personify the loneliness, give it character. I’ve tried a lot of those things you talk about doing and found the same result you did. My answer to you is, Yes. We are all desperately lonely sometimes. It’s just hard to see. We don’t usually share our loneliness with each other.

      Take care of yourself and keep posting! IM

      • Barbara Keller says

        That is so nice. I just read it. thanks so much for getting it and for taking the time to write me back. Boy does it help. Thanks.

    • Eve says

      It is all too often that I “settle on God” too. He is dying to have us in this relationship, but we feel we need to feel & touch Him and that is just not possible because there are rules to this free will thing.

    • Polly says

      Barbara this was so vivid! You really captured the essence of what it is to feel alone but included a fun, dry sense of humour in parts. I could actually picture everything you described and you kept me interested, from start to finish. Thanks.

    • Susana says

      You so beautifully express the subtleties of loneliness –like hunger, it gnaws at you. We all know the feeling but it is hard to put into words. You have done a masterful job. And then you go about comforting yourself, bring God into the picyure and leaning on Him. Bravo!

      • Barbara Keller says

        You guys are so nice – I didn’t mean to not respond, I just didn’t read the comments until today. So kind, so generous. No lie, it warms my heart to be heard and appreciated. Just heard is a gift for which I thank you, but appreciated? complimented? wow.

  6. Hazel says

    There is a kind of loneliness that sweeps in like a dust storm on the desert. It fills you nose, chokes your throat and makes you cry. It darkens the sky and makes you withdraw from the world back into a concealed safe place.

    There is a kind of loneliness that makes you reach out to what is left of your family and cling to them. They are a part of you; the same blood runs through their veins and if they leave there is less of you. You feel like your blood is being drained away.

    There is a kind of loneliness that comes when you fall and there is no one around to help you get back on your feet. Even if you know some one will be there in a few minutes you know you could be left alone forever if something happens to them. No one knows you are lying in a stone creek bed that you created in your flowerbed and you’re head is lower than your feet. You are in a rural community where no one walks by and you cannot be seen from the road. What if . . .?

    There is a kind of loneliness that wraps around you like the quilt you grab when you awaken in the middle of the night and the pain in your body will not let you get back to sleep, so you decide to get up and sit in your old comfortable chair and read. You see yourself sitting beneath the stained glass lamp you created and think about the many lonely hours it took to make it. As your book slides into your lap you pull the quilt closer around yourself and think of other lonely moments.

    There is a kind of loneliness that fills you heart with fear when you realize you must leave your abusive husband. A lonely fear that keeps you hanging on looking for just the right moment to leave. A lonely fear that plays scenarios over and over as you shiver beside him praying he wont wake up.

    There is a loneliness that consumes you with the sense of loss now that you have left him. In your head you must have accidents happen to everyone you know because otherwise how could you go on knowing that they are out there alive and well. You can never again have contact with them or you could die and they along with you. Now, you are truly alone. There is no one in this new world that could even begin to understand. Even the psychiatrist knows you are crazy. You are truly alone.

    There is a loneliness in knowing that you have missed ten years of your children’s life and now they are adults with lives of their own.

    We are each here to learn the lessons we need to learn and to know what it is to be human. I would not trade my life for any other because I know I am becoming human.

    • Barbara Keller says

      That was so poignant, so real, so honest and from the soul, it hurt me to read your pain. I’m so sorry, and so proud of your bravery and fortitude. Yes, we have to live our own lives and learn our own lessons. You reminded me that not all the other people have people. I am not the only lonely one. I love your line, even the psychiatrist knows I’m crazy. Well, that’s their job. I never had one who wasn’t sure I was the loony one. Don’t pay attention. Be good to yourself.

    • says

      Hazel, I was so touched by your words and your honest expression. Thank you for your trust and your beauty and your willingness to set a profound example of what it means to be real on the page.

    • Ilana says

      Hazel- This is a story of such courage and strength. You are not alone and there are so many people who would feel less alone and so comforted if they knew your story. Kudos to you! Well written, well lived! IM

    • Eve says

      Thank you for your courage in leaving a situation that would have surely killed you, no matter what the cost. Thank you for showing others that through the loneliness you are being transformed.
      P.S. The psychiatrists are the crazy ones!!! We are just trying to heal what we have lived through. They are just trying to poison the immune systems of every person they can trick into believing that they are crazy.

      • Polly says

        So, Eve, I just want to take a second to address this. I have an amazing therapist who gives me the safest space in the world every time I speak with her. She actually makes a point of letting me know that I’m not going crazy at some point in every session. A lot of people provide care for the right reasons, for the good of people.

        • Eve says

          Thank you Polly for speaking up. You are absolutely right. I too was able to find an amazing therapist. I finally found someone who took the time to listen instead of trying to shove a handful of pills down my throat. Drugs are fine for an acute attack of the pain when needed, but should be used as a bridge only. The end goal should be to work through the pain and to be drug free in the end. That is called actual healing. We can mask the pain all we want, but it will continue to haunt us and come out in some negative way until we truly forgive, heal, and move on.

          • Polly says

            Thanks for responding to this, Eve! I’m glad you found someone whose approach works for you. That’s great.

    • Polly says

      Hazel, this was incredibly thought-provoking. My heart goes out to you. I’m speechless after having read this so I will just say thank you for having the courage to share it with the rest of us. That in itself is inspiring. Keep on keeping on, okay?


    • Terry Gibson says

      Hazel, This piece is achingly beautiful. So poignant. I felt sometimes like I was in your place remarking on all those things. Thinking and feeling what you do. I want to say more but it’d all be blather. Thank you so much for sharing this gift with us.

  7. Diane says

    There is the kind of loneliness that shields as you stand alone with your convictions.

    There is the kind of loneliness that feels like a hollow drum when you realize there is nothing good left in a relationship.

    There is the kind of loneliness that has you begging for release in the middle of the night when you lie awake, mind racing, next to a quietly sleeping partner.

    There is the kind of loneliness that meanders through your life when friends drift off to another chapter in there lives.

    There is the kind of loneliness that sits like a cold stone in the belly when your parent dies.

    There is the kind of loneliness that is empowering as you realize that don’t have to answer to anyone, or be anyone, but yourself.

      • Sabrina says

        Of late I have come to that place of feeling that I do not have to answer to anyone or be anyone but myself. It truly is a free place. It is so new and unfamiliar in a sense that I keep looking for reasons to feel guilty or wrong about something. Sometimes I find those reasons and then I realize this is just more negative self talk that runs thru my brain like a bad ole habit. I think aloneness and loneliness are two entirely different things though. Feeling alone and empowered is not the same thing as feeling lonely. But definitely coming to terms with feeling lonely and arriving at feeling OK about being alone is definitely a better place to be than feeling disconnected and suffering. I have just changed my mind. Maybe being empowered in ones aloneness is a form of loneliness. Thanks for giving me something to think about. I am still thinkin thinkin but now without words.

    • Ilana says

      Diane- Bravo! You have so beautifully mixed positive and negative aspects of loneliness. I have found few kinds of loneliness more painful than laying next to a partner who is sleeping peacefully and yet I also know the thrill of the kind that makes me realize that I don’t have to answer to anyone or be anyone but myself. Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece. IM

    • Polly says

      Diane, this was beautiful. I like that it ends on a note of empowerment. I really enjoy reading the descriptions for each item you mention – it adds more depth. Thank you.

  8. Felisa Rousseau says

    There is the kind of loneliness that hemorrhages inside you when no one in the audience of your college graduation knows you. There is the kind of loneliness that depletes your oxygen supply when at your promotion you look for a family that is not there. There is the kind of loneliness you grieve when you look back to discover you have no childhood memories to share with your friends. There is the kind of loneliness that makes you feel lonely and sad, yet, when mastered you learn contentment.

    • says

      Dear Felisa, Welcome to the Roadmap Blog. Thanks for sharing your poignant piece about what it feels like not to have a family–and thanks too, for sharing the way through to a place of acceptance and peace.

    • Polly says

      I’m inspired by the fact that although you didn’t have family present to support you, you were able to accomplish all of those things! Hopefully the loneliness will subside. Thanks for posting.

    • Liz F. says

      Bravo Felisa. And this is a great example that you do not have to have “family” in order to accomplish things. Sure it is nice to have a support system, yet at the end of the day, no one is truly alone in the world. We have a spirit within that is always there….

  9. Terry Gibson says

    There is the kind of loneliness that comes from being six or seven and ripped away from an adoring father, the only person who gave me any affection at all. Barbed words between Dad and Mom caused crashing sounds, running and screaming in the hall and up the stairs, and quickly drew blood. Today, as I stumble through the strangeness of out-surviving my father, I realize and admit how very much I love him. I remember now that—although I only saw him from a daughter’s perspective—I love Dad and Steve so much because oddly enough (in Dad’s case), they both had the same gentle, quiet and unassuming nature that I do. Eighteen years later, we were re-introduced. Strangers, we drank beer together. I got drunk and sobbed for hours in front of him. We already knew he was dying from cancer.

    There is the kind of loneliness that comes from needing Dad to be enraged at the men who raped me and wanting to kill them. This was not the case at all and it is like a compound fracture. When I write, I revisit this original assault in a myriad of ways because the agony of it, feeling it, has never ceased. So long ago. So much pain. Will I ever purge it from my being?

    There is the kind of loneliness that comes from knowing that I was once a little, bright, dependent, and naïve child in the hands of sadists. Doing little kid things. Running around with no underwear. Taking baths in front of them. I have one picture where I obviously had to pee as they made me pose for the photo; I cringe and feel sick seeing it. Thinking of what they might have said and what they did say. Vivid memories of Mom, my grandparents, and weird uncle laughing at me. Shaming. My throat chokes as I remember the bits and pieces that are there. Those images and bits of dialogue stubbornly resonate with me today.

    There is the kind of loneliness that comes with realizing that I was drugged and gang raped by any number of men, half the county maybe, and was too ashamed to share it with my best friend. I didn’t know exactly what happened. She’d probably already labelled me a ‘slut’ by then anyway; she started being aloof and cool with me. Her Mom approached the topic of my ‘behaviour’ by saying, “… nobody wants a girl who has been fingered and prodded by everybody.” I slunk down in the chair as she peered at me over thick black glasses. I would have cut my throat if a knife were in front of me.

    There is the kind of loneliness that comes with sitting in a sandwich shop, enjoying a coffee, when a man I had never seen in my life approached me. He bent down in an intimate fashion and said in a low voice, “Hey. I remember YOU.“As he leered at me and faked panting, I suddenly knew everything, I held my breath. I recoiled in disgust.“ At Nick’s trailer,” he added. I clapped my hand over my mouth and ran to the bathroom to try sliding out of this disgusting skin.

    There is the kind of loneliness that comes with having no job. No place to live. No family to go to. No place I belong. Having no roots. Being confused about whether to keep going at all. Trying to find the energy to extract myself again from the mud of despair.

    There is the kind of loneliness that comes from knowing that no thing will make me better. Not a car. A trip. Person. Book. Not money. A pill. Lover. Partner. Friend. Having roots. Not a therapist. No thing will cure the pain that knocks me over and leaves boot prints on my back. I work, sometimes in fifteen-minute segments of time, trying to maintain my optimism, humour, hopefulness, joy, and stubbornness. More importantly, I fight not to self-harm physically or emotionally. The latter is a constant war. Sometimes this is easy. Today it is not. However, I am very happy to have this writing prompt to work on today.

    There is the kind of loneliness that comes from knowing that I often write as if I have a miracle cure, that I am completely healed of post-traumatic stress. As if I’ve healed issues around sexuality and intimacy and well–everything. This is simply not true. I can laugh about comical things and boast in some ways. However, there are so many ways that I’m still a teenager. I come across as if I am this super woman who could assess the damages and carry on, as the rapists and my family did. The reality is that I am more fragile than I appear or sound in my virtual voice; those who know me know that. I am well-aware of it and now try to document it. Find words. The raw material. It’s so hard but I committed to this. I have to get through it to continue living. It’s as simple as that.

    There is the kind of loneliness that comes from knowing that this piece is depressing. Maybe disturbing. I know some might worry about me and I don’t want that. I know I’m worrying about me. I don’t want that either. I just wish I could un-change and make everything okay again. Truth is though, everything wasn’t okay, just familiar. This place isn’t.

    There is the kind of loneliness that comes with knowing that people shouldn’t get involved with me at all. My baggage is a burden and damaging. It does harm no matter how hard I fight against it.

    There is the kind of loneliness that comes from knowing that the work I MUST do sits as high as the stack of newspapers in a reporter’s office and that I am so very tired.

    Finally, there is the kind of loneliness that comes from knowing that I’ve been a lazy writer. I keep stopping when things are agonizing, when what I must do then is keep the keyboard clicking. What I first put to page is not showing at all. It’s still telling and I need to work on that after getting the framework of my memoir down. Also, only then can I address things like punching up my verbs, making my material correct grammatically, using vivid descriptions and helping people FEEL what I did and do. And, ultimately, what my message is all about.

    • says

      Terry, you are not a burden, not too much. Your baggage is just that–baggage–it’s not you. You are a vibrant, living being, the same essence that is your birthright is still there. I loved this line in your piece, “There is the kind of loneliness that comes from knowing that the work I MUST do sits as high as the stack of newspapers in a reporter’s office and that I am so very tired.” I understand, wholeheartedly. Thanks for pouring out your heart to us and sharing us in your challenging day.

      • Terry Gibson says

        Thanks Laura. I appreciate your words so much. Hopefully, waking up tomorrow on my birthday, things will feel a bit better. I’m aware of the ‘loneliness’ issues you shared too and I said a big Ouch to them. I hate to think of you, your spouse, or any parents trying to adjust to changes in their child that can feel like outright rejection. I empathize in a big way with all you mentioned.

        • Eve says

          Your piece was amazing- thank you. Happy Birthday Beautiful!!! I would like to send you a gift. It is . a CD I found that is really helping with my post traumatic stress. If you are open to it please get your address to me. Take care. Sending much love your way regardless. Love, Eve

          • says

            Eve and Terry, let’s be sure personal info isn’t shared online…Terry, if you’re going to share your address, please do it in a private email to Eve…and Eve, welcome to the blog and thanks for your generous response. I hope you keep coming back!

          • Eve says

            Thanks Laura- I was not sure of how I could work that end of it out. If Terry asks for my email address, please feel free to give it to her. Either one is fine. I realize that only you can see the email addresses. Thanks for having me on your amazing healing blog.

          • Terry Gibson says

            Eve, Thanks! A friend’s thoughts and feelings are the only gift I need ever. I am so touched by your words. I’m smiling.

          • Eve says

            The CD I was going to send you is a guided imagery called Healing Trauma by Bellaruth Naprostackin (I’m sure I butchered her name). It can be found on Amazon for under $20. I have been listening to it over & over and have found it to be very powerful in my healing process.

          • Terry Gibson says

            Eve, I’ve been looking for your post about the Gershon Institute. Was that this week? I seem to have lost it. Had to tell you that I found that story fascinating and will be reading lots more about it. So happy you put it up! Hope you didn’t doubt yourself.

          • Eve says

            Terry, I happened to notice your post about the Gerson Therapy. The movies that I recommended were The Beautiful Truth & The Gerson Miracle. Hope this helps.

    • Polly says

      Terry this is such a brave and candid piece. It broke my heart. Thank you for being courageous enough to share it. I am moved beyond words.


    • Ilana says

      Terry- I always enjoy your writing and learn a great deal from what you have to share. True, there is an immense amount of pain but there is also an immense amount of beauty, courage and love in your writing. As far as being a burden, I think you are far too generous a person for that to be possible. You have always responded to other people’s posts with support and kindness. It would be easy for you, with all you’ve been through, to respond to my story by saying I had it easy compared to you. But you never once did that. You’ve always honored my experience, my writing and my feelings. Please trust me, us, to do the same for you. You are a marvelous woman with a sweet and gentle way about you. Never forget your own beauty. Take care my friend, my sister. IM

      PS. I did learn from this piece, as I always do. It is elegantly written. However, I felt it was more important to reflect on the emotions in it than the writing skill this time.

      • Terry Gibson says

        Ilana, Thanks to you too. It’s nice to have sisters we can count on, isn’t it? I’m going to seek out everyone’s comments in the morn again to fortify myself enough to survive a tough birthday. Your replies say so much to me, especially tonight and I am so grateful for your keen insight.

        • Ilana says

          Happy Birthday to you, Terry. I know that birthdays can be hard but I like to think of them as my day to be recognized and special. I’d get older with or without them, as do people born on February 29 when it is not a leap year. So I salute you! Happy day to be recognized as special, spoiled and celebrated by the people who love you. IM

          • Terry Gibson says

            Thanks Ilana. You know? I’m going to try to think of days like this in that way. I always revel in the birthdays of people I love and admire. Why not my own too? Needs work but I’m always up to trying something new and potentially helpful. :)

    • Liz F. says

      Terry, what an incredible piece… Powerful words. A voice using words. And with each word, the silence is drowned by that voice….

      Those bastards had no right to leave you with that baggage. It belongs to them, along with the feelings of it being a burden. I wish you well in your recovery whereby piece by piece and day by day, you can clean out that baggage and clean out those feelings of being a burden.

      • Terry Gibson says

        Thank you, Liz. I’m going to remember your words about cleaning out the baggage. I get livid while knowing that they get to go on (or die) and I am left with their baggage. Trying to discard it is like trying to throw away something that won’t let go–like a piece of paper stuck to my hand with honey. No matter how many times I try to shake it loose, it won’t budge. Freeing myself is a back and forth thing but I am a bit scrappy in my fight. I work constantly and rest lots in between. Thank you so much!

        • Liz F. says

          You are so welcome Terry. And I know that cleaning out the baggage is a process that takes time and effort, yet little by little it does get done. And yes, it is good to rest lots in between!

          The work though is so worth it though. I have been at this for a while myself, and the perspective gets amazing, so keep on keepin on!!

    • Barbara Keller says

      A bit late and after the fact, here are some thoughts – You are wiser, braver, and more hopeful than you may realize. It shows powerfully in your writing. Yes, you have horrible pain and legitimately so, through no fault of your own, and yes it won’t let you go, and yes you are screamingly angry, for good cause – but it seems to me by the fact the you are so aware of what’s going on, and so responsible about it, warning people that you may not be good for them, that you are making progress. In my own painful journey from crazy mad and sad to really OK at 70, knowing what to call it was always the first step. The second step on were God’s work. I recommend the bible, John chapter 14. Seems too simple? perhaps, but it has worked for me.

    • Sabrina says

      There is something very connecting about someone sharing their truth.
      I thank you for that.
      It is a constant question in my mind why people let themselves indulge in sadism. Certainly they have the choice not to indulge but they choose to indulge.

      Your description of the man who reminds you of “Nicks Trailer” is poignant. Too bad you didn’t puke on him right there.
      My sister managed to puke on a sadist once. I was so proud of her and always wished I could repeat her on cue reaction.
      Maybe these people -these sadists really want to diminish themselves and give themselves lifetimes of shame to work thru.
      I know what it is like to not want to live inside of ones own skin. It is not a happy feeling.
      I have a funny feeling you have something important to offer this world. Otherwise why would so many try so hard to suck your life dry.
      Honestly your description makes me access some kind of rage within me.
      This is an important question you raise for me. Why this dark side of human nature? What is it there for?
      unanswers, thinkin thinkin………..
      but certainly not everyone will feel your experiences are heavy burdons. some people will be able to help you find those happy endorphins. This traumatic stuff gets very toxically chemical. Chemicals are treatable I believe.
      thinkin thinkin……..

  10. Alexis says

    There is a loneliness that gradually creeps over you when you are riding on your highest of highs. Sitting in an addiction recovery group without any of your friends because they are not interested in getting their life together. They also resent you for leaving them behind. Sitting there without any family because they are still angry with you. Some never knew about your struggles. Sitting there so happy to be clean for one week but nobody at all to celebrate with.

    • Polly says

      Alexis, congratulations! It sounds like you have taken some unbelievably important steps. I have a feeling it will get to be less lonely over time.

      • Ilana says

        I second Polly’s congratulations and hope for a less lonely future. It is amazing what you are doing. Thank you for sharing your triumph with us. IM

    • Eve says

      The celebration is from within. You learn to celebrate you & the beautiful creation that you are becoming… I am very proud of you & my spirit is with you celebrating now. I pray that I have the strength to make it one week without needing my own high of highs too.

      • Eve says

        It has been 9 days since I medicated. Today I found myself close to taking a couple vape hits, but my hubby stopped me. It is just a habit, but if I want to use it as the medicine that it really is, I have to only use it when there is a need. Not just the need to get high.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Alexis, I also celebrate with you. I admire you so much and hope you will keep coming back to share your successes and struggles. Am seriously cheering you on! I wanted to add that joining this writing community has helped me with my loneliness and despair and has given me a sense of belonging I didn’t have before. I trust you’ll find the same.

  11. Eve says

    There is a kind of loneliness that comes from experiencing days like I had today. I walked into work this morning at 11am. I was greeted by my charge nurse at the door of my unit and instructed to head to our managers office. I went in and found the Vice President of Human Resources, the head of security & my manager anxiously awaiting my arrival…

      • Eve says

        And… there is a kind of loneliness that comes from knowing that you have dug your own grave & now it is time to lie in it.

        There is a kind of loneliness that can comes from knowing that this difficult moment is a direct answer to a recently made prayer.

        There is a loneliness that comes from knowing I may no longer have my favorite job because I could not leave behind one of my addictions.

        There is a loneliness that comes from not being proactive enough in my transformation to kick my bad habits on my own before God has to step in & give me a divine spanking…

        • says

          Yes, we can just go on and on. There are so many kinds of loneliness. There is the loneliness of sitting with your college age son and realizing that you no longer know how to talk to him, there is the loneliness of your daughter with her ear buds in, tuning you out. There is the loneliness of screaming into the phone to be heard by your mother who can never hear what you say on the phone anymore; there is the loneliness of knowing that you are the mother now and she is the daughter. There is the loneliness of walking out of her room knowing you are relieved to be leaving but worried and missing her already.

          • Eve says

            Those are painful lonelinesses. My daughter is only 3 and she says, “get away from me.” I know that she is really saying, “I miss you because you are at work all the time, Mom.” But it really hurts. Sometimes I can turn it around & make her smile and laugh in the same moment, but other times I just have to walk away. My mother is so far gone from all the medicines she is on that she is no where to be found. Now that I am ready to try to reach her & create a relationship it feels impossible. All these years of telling her to get away from me have really caused her to go away from me. I wish she could have found some way to make me smile & laugh again before it was too late.

        • Ilana says

          So interesting to me, Eve, how this piece can be read as so sad and yet so hopeful at the same time. It feels like you are realizing that mistakes you made have benefited you in the long run. You lost this round but the game, itself, is far from over. I don’t even know how you’ve threaded this hope and positive energy into the piece. I only know it’s there. Bravo! and may I lift my glass to your future? IM

          • Eve says

            Hey, thanks Ilana. I am sure that this is all part of my healing. That is why I can not be upset or feel sorry for myself. I asked God for help in this matter of my life & he created this circumstance almost immediately. I just wish that I could have broke the habit on my own before He had to step in with todays events. It is positive though. I am handling this with integrity & not cheating my way out of it. I am taking this spanking with my head held high and with thankfulness of knowing that He really is listening to me. Now if I could only learn to listen to Him…

  12. Ilana says

    I am Alone; I am Not Alone

    There is a kind of loneliness that comes when I am out with friends and know for a fact that I am the only survivor of incest. I am a freak. I am different. I am alone and no one could possibly understand how I’m feeling. Their bodies have always belonged to them and they always had the right to be protected. My body has been used to hurt me, used to manipulate and control me. My body is dirty. My soul is dirty, disgusting, empty and used. I am different and I am alone.

    There is a kind of loneliness that comes when I feel wronged, overlooked and cheated. After three decades of turning my hurt on myself it is just too easy to say to myself, “You don’t deserve to be treated like everyone else, that’s why.” So when another mother ridicules my ideas in front of the whole PTA it is not because she is a nasty mean hearted person. It is not because she is insecure and needs to put other people down to feel good about herself. It is because she’s right and I’m wrong. It is because everyone is looking at her and nodding their agreement as they wonder why I even joined the PTO. I am stupid. I am crazy and I am alone.

    There is a kind of loneliness that comes when I have written something that I love and no one can possibly see all of its intricacies and beauty but me. I don’t dare share it because they might not understand. They might react with something less than the awe and reverence that I believe my piece deserves and that would crush me. Worse they could suggest a change or criticize my work. I can see the light and the beauty no one else can and I am alone.

    There is a kind of loneliness that comes when I sit on my freshly vacuumed carpet folding laundry and watching television. The kitchen is scrubbed, the table set and dinner is in the oven. The house is quiet, a sound I usually crave. But here I sit, amid a pile of laundry almost as tall as my preschooler and this is the most important thing I have to do with my life. I cook, clean, and do laundry for five people. They are depending on me, it’s got to get done but I still feel so useless. I like crime dramas. The characters on the television set are saving people’s lives, catching villains and risking their lives to protect each other. Me? I’m doing laundry. I’m boring and I’m alone.

    There is a kind of loneliness that comes when I realize that for the sake of my sanity, my safety and my mental wellbeing, I have sacrificed every connection I once had to my family of origin. My older brother, Andrew emotionally, physically and sexually abused me for more than fifteen years. I will never speak to him again and I hell will freeze over before I even consider letting him come near my children. My parents condoned and supported his treatment of me. As I go through the difficult and painful process of confronting my past thoughts of them send me into anxiety attacks and in the beginning, suicidal ideation. Finally, my younger brother, Matt who was abused alongside me, turned all of that hurt outward, onto me. He is an angry, bitter man who focuses his poisoned rage on me. I’m fighting for my life, no longer following orders, defying all of the disgusting, dysfunctional rules that were established during my childhood. I am forging a new and uncertain path and I am alone.

    There are so many kinds of loneliness. It is overwhelming to see them circling all around me, waiting to devour and destroy me. I choreograph a complicated dance to side step them. Wear makeup even when I am home alone so that I will see a more attractive face when I pass the mirror. I collect blankets for the homeless, donate my hair and my blood as often as I possibly can so that I can somehow save someone else’s life and have some kind of effect on this earth while I’m sitting at home folding laundry. I tell anyone who will listen, about the person who put me down so that I can hear their offended reactions and feel they are standing by me. I share my writing with people who have already promised not to criticize. And I search for new brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins by adopting anyone in my husband’s family who will have me. I do all of this in a vain attempt never to feel alone because I hate to feel alone.

    I hate to feel stupid, broken, empty and ashamed. The only way to escape it, though, is to realize that I am none of those things. I have to learn to love myself. Once I love myself then I will spend a lot less time being alone. I will always be with someone who loves me. Love myself. That defiantly falls into the easier said than done category. But it’s worth the effort. It’s worth the strain, the fear and blind faith in my inherent worth as a human being. It’s worth it because if I can get there then I am not alone.

    • Polly says

      Ilana, it’s so worth it to learn to love yourself, and it is absolutely easier said than done. I was getting ready to write my piece, and was going to include the exact notion that you wrote about in your first paragraph, about feeling alone when you’re out with friends. (Some of you on this page know more intimate details about my past than most of my friends.) So I won’t bother plagiarizing that part.

      I echo many of the sentiments you wrote about. Just remember that you’re strong, you’re smart; you are none of those negative attributes that you mentioned. I don’t know you in real life but I can tell that you are a kind, intelligent human being with integrity – not to mention the fact that you are a very talented writer. Thank you for sharing, again.

      • Ilana says

        Thank you Polly. I really needed to start the morning with that positive energy. As far as plagiarizing, just because I posted it first doesn’t mean you didn’t come up with it on your own. And I don’t want my posting to take away from yours. So write from you heart and don’t worry about what anyone else says, first second or last. 😉 It’s nice to know I am not alone in these feelings. Lookin’ forward to your post, IM

    • Barbara Keller says

      I have such regard for you. As I’ve read the postings, I have seen your writing, prompt, wise, kind, helpful, generous and poised. Had you not poured out your truth in this posting I wouldn’t have guessed at your hurt and misery. So maybe we all have something like that? Something awful we don’t usually share? Some feeling of uselessness and justified rejection? I certainly have had all my life. Thank you for writing so honestly about these very painful events. I constantly take comfort in this, that God loves me. Not in a generic, gee He loves everyone, isn’t that nice. No, me, this Barbara, this person of disgusting sin and failure, this strange, odd, unbelonging one. He knows all about me, and still loves me. Knows how I feel, and why I’m sad, and why I can’t bear it another minute.

  13. Eve says

    Ilana, you are such an amazing writer. I absolutely love the pain & beauty of your pieces. I too am the victim of sexual abuse. I allowed his crime to let me turn on myself for many years. Not only did I hurt myself though, I hurt others. Your heart is way more beautiful than mine because your love of others is so evident in what you give of yourself. Being a stay at home mom is the hardest job on this planet! It is the 24/7 kind and is often overlooked by others. You are constantly busy & often not thanked, but are rewarded in so many ways when you see your children finding their way through this crazy world with the support and protection that they really need. Thank you for all you do to keep your family safe!!! Your not alone in this. I have your back & we can learn to truly love ourselves together.

  14. Eve says

    There is a kind of loneliness that you feel when you know there is something you should or should not be doing, but just don’t have the will to stop or start doing it. I have had huge spiritual experiences and know for a fact that there IS a God, yet I continue to spit in His face with my behaviors. Bad enough that I constantly need these spiritual spankings in order to make the changes that I so desperately need to be making on my own. I had wanted to make a prayer for more than six months to finally ask God if my love of cannabis was ok. Finally one night I pulled out a bible that I was given a couple years before, which I never looked at, and I quickly made this simple prayer over it. “Is my smoking bad?”
    I open the bible and my eyes went straight to a verse. The verse is in Corinthians (I can’t remember the exact verse yet, I will find it) and it was talking about the polluting of the body. I said, “Awe crap!!!”
    I knew what the answer was going to be and that is why it took 6 months of me talking about making the prayer before I actually made it. This was a clear & direct answer to my question.
    For a few days I stopped & was trying to listen to what He had said to me, but then got stressed out at work and kept right on vaporizing. This has been more than 2 years ago. I have not even really tried to stop again. I realize the tremendous disrespect that continuing to smoke everyday was, but I could not muster the will to let it go. I chose to turn to something that I could see & touch, instead of turning to Him which is where the healing actually resides.

    Kids are awake now- I will continue my story soon…

      • Eve says

        Thank you for this sacred space. My spirit has been searching for this place for a very long time. You are an answer to a sincere prayer. I am very thankful for you & your work.

    • Ilana says

      Eve- What a heartfelt and genuine story. Thank you for having the courage to share it with us. I deeply connect to the feeling of loneliness that comes from “there is something you should or should not be doing, but just don’t have the will to stop or start doing it.” Whenever I am in this situation I feel alone in my wrongness because I firmly believe (in that moment) that everyone else in the world would be doing the right thing. I love how your story invites me in despite the fact that I practice my religion differently than you and that I have never tried cannabis. It’s the feelings that speak to me. Well done. Look forward to more, IM

  15. says

    My loneliness sleeps at the foot of the bed. He likes to climb up in the middle of the night and sleep between us. He slips into all the spaces between us. He hogs the covers and yanks them away from me, exposing bare flesh, making me cold. Loneliness is a slow, steady prowler. He isn’t fast. During the day, he can never keep up with me. He’s easy to outrace; all I have to do is stay busy. It’s in the in-between times that he haunts me, whispering into my ear with his quiet insistent voice, “There’s no one really here for you,” he says. “When was the last time you were really connected?” It’s in those moments before I go to sleep or when I stop “doing” and come to a stop. It’s in the early morning before the day starts spinning. Those are his times. Those are the times he stalks me. Those are the times he sticks it to me. Those are the times he winds himself around my neck like a noose, leaving me panicked and breathless. “If you only listened to me,” he said, “and stopped running, I’d have something wonderful to teach you. But you’re so busy keeping me at bay that you never learn. Oh, there have been times you heeded me, that you listened, that you even embraced me. I wasn’t such a bad companion, now was I? Why are you so afraid of me now?” I don’t really have an answer to his question. I don’t really know why I fear him. All he’s doing really is holding up a mirror. What is it that I don’t want to see?

    • Eve says

      We don’t want to see ourselves & the parts of us that remain to be transformed. We are comfortable with glances in the mirror as we walk by or to check that our outfit is appropriate for the world for the day. We are not comfortable looking deeper into ourselves and realizing that there is much more work & surrendering to do.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Laura, It feels like you and Eve are having an important conversation here this week and I hesitate to throw my voice into the mix. However, setting that and extraneous obstacles aside, I really like your piece. I can’t help but relate to the feelings you so vividly expressed and understand within the confines of my own perception and imagination. Regarding this quote, “There’s no one really here for you….”, I need to toss out a rebuttal or reply for you, something to help quell and dismiss the echo of that loneliness voice that lurks waiting to undermine you. “Look more closely.” That’s it. Thanks for sharing this.

      • says

        But, Terry, that’s just the thing…everyone no matter how loved or even beloved they are…feels lonely sometimes. Even though I know I am loved, I can’t always connect to that love. And no matter how connected we are, that existential aloneness is always there. I don’t think of it as a bad thing or something to get rid of–it’s just part of the human experience.

        • Terry Gibson says

          Laura, Thanks for your response. Three days ago, I felt suicidal and during that time it didn’t matter who cared, how many, or to what degree. I am not happy about this but know it’s how it is. I understand what you say. If I sounded judgmental, that is not where I’m coming from at all. While the intellectual me knows the existential realities of living, the nurturing me can’t help but want to soothe even the unsoothable.

    • Ilana says

      Laura- Thank you for sharing your work right along with us. I’m going to stay out of the conversations and just share my thoughts on this piece. I loved the way you personified the loneliness. I’ve said this before, haven’t I? The personification of inanimate objects, constructs etc., is so vivid and descriptive. I am very intrigued by the idea that loneliness has something to teach. This piece was powerful and thought provoking. Thanks for sharing it. IM

    • Barbara Keller says

      It’s beautifully written Laura. You are a fine writer. My only thought is that this personification of loneliness is a liar. You can’t invite such things in. I do understand the picture – you are running away, and the question, why, but I think there are emotions, and loneliness is in the end an emotion, that aren’t good to dwell with because they can lead to unhealthy behavior or self image. So, and here’s the point, I think avoiding loneliness as a companion is a very good idea. Keep it up. Not self deception, but wise avoidance of emotions that steal from you. Sorry for the pointed advice you never asked for. Aren’t we all just mothers trying to help?

  16. Polly says

    Laura, this was haunting, powerful, and so honest. I like the idea that there’s something we can learn from the experience of loneliness. There’s nothing I can say that will actually do the quality of this piece justice, but wow … I am blown away. Thank you.

  17. Polly says

    Laura Davis you are a tough act to follow, but I’ll give this a shot.

    There is a kind of loneliness that seeps through my veins when the body memory pushes me into my bed – my wife fast asleep next to me and my puppies dreaming on the floor – I am alone and I feel my brother’s hands close around my neck and the rest … I can’t type, but there is a deep loneliness and shame in that space.

    The loneliness is strange when my wife is out of town, the alarm goes off at 6AM and I lie in that realm between sleep and wakefulness: it’s dark but I can see my surroundings and I see him next to me; he’s breathing yet I can’t. I hate the way he breathes. I’m not aware that this awful memory invaded my sleep until I remember, an hour later in the bath. It’s lonely and I want to scream.

    There’s a guilty kind of loneliness when all I want is to be alone and I start to resent the person I love; and simultaneously all I want is to be held, but being held is far too scary so I retreat. I watch my empty shell of a body from the outside.

    The loneliness appears when I’m at work and I start to panic for -no reason- so I get up from my desk and walk into the bathroom to be alone. And there today I was greeted again by the face of the heartbroken little me at age 5 (?) she keeps showing up and when she does, I let her out for a few minutes. She has to come up for air occasionally. And then, knowing that I have deadlines and that sooner or later someone else in the office will have to pee, I coax her back in, telling her she’s safe, telling her she can visit again soon.

    There’s the loneliness that comes when almost no one knows your secret – what happened to you – when even you begin to admonish yourself “if you had just left well enough alone, you’d be fine now!” and you can literally hear his monster-like gruff voice that runs up from your belly screaming “shut the fuck up!” and it echoes in your skull. That’s. Lonely.

    There’s the fact that your loneliness will subside. You have always been taught to fake it until you make it and you know that that fighting spirit is still within you. You’re coming up for air, and eventually, you’ll reach the shore. Because he doesn’t get to win. And you’re stronger and smarter than you ever realized. And you will make this work.

    • says

      Polly, your piece made me think of something. Back when I was in the throes of being absorbed in my healing process, I attributed everything painful or difficult to the fact that I had been sexually abused. But as the years go by, I realize everyone has suffering and that the full gamut of feelings–including loneliness–is part of being human–whether we’ve been abused or not. I loved this part of your piece, ” today I was greeted again by the face of the heartbroken little me at age 5 (?) she keeps showing up and when she does, I let her out for a few minutes. ” Your kindness to that little girl.

      • Polly says

        I think you’re right, and I’m pretty sure the fact that not every negative thing stems from the abuse appears somewhere in your book, so I knew that going in :) Some weeks I’m more focused on this part of my experience than others. The next challenge I give myself will be to expand. Thanks – it’s nice to hear that insight.

      • Polly says

        Also what you said touches on something that my therapist told me a while ago. She mentioned that sometimes survivors will have a tendency to see themselves solely as survivors, above all else. And she said “but [insert my real name here] you are so much more than that.” She said it so emphatically that I have to believe her, and keep reminding myself of that. I think in a sense you are saying the same thing. It’s worth paying attention to.

        • Ilana says

          Polly- Your therapist makes such an important point when she says there is more to us than just survivors of incest. It is so hard, sometimes, to see myself as anything other than this wounded, hurting creature, struggling not to consider myself damaged goods. The fact that there is more to me than that needs to be repeated to me often. So I appreciate you pointing it out as well. (I have been very careful to speak in I statements and not make assumptions about your feelings. That is the only reason my wording may sound exclusive.)

          I also wanted to thank you for your last comments in our dialogue. It meant a lot to connect with you in that way. With your permission I will consider you one of my precious “Sister-survivors”

          I understood from your last
          comment “(Insert my real name here)” that you also use a fake name on this blog. Ilana is not my real name. None of the names I use in my writing are real except for my son’s. Micah is a common enough name and one of my pieces was about his name. It feels really good to be honest about that so thank you for the opportunity. IM

          • Polly says

            I would be so honoured to be counted as one of your Sister-survivors. Thank you!

            That’s correct, Polly is not my real name. I use a pseudonym because doing otherwise would have the potential effect of hurting a lot of people that I care about, and I’m also not ready to be “outed” yet in this respect. Other people I mention on this blog are just referred to by their ‘titles’ for lack of a better word, no names. I’m glad you shared that with me.

            I understand your use of the I statements (I like using them myself) and I also try to be careful not to be or come across as being presumptuous about anyone’s feelings or experiences on here. Quite often there’s more that I want to say about various posts, but hold back for that reason. I don’t worry about anything you say though in that I wouldn’t take offense … I also really appreciate this dialogue. It’s so good to be able to connect!

            Yes it’s a challenge to see myself as a complete person sometimes. The ‘damaged goods’ reference speaks to me – I actually thought of myself that way, verbatim, the other day. My oldest brother stole so much from me that I am now working to get back. And for the longest time, I didn’t even know it was missing.

            It’s always really good to hear from you. Talk to you soon.

    • Ilana says

      Wow Polly. Just wow! You speak to so much in me that I had not even been able to express yet. If I copied what I loved about this piece I’d end up just pasting the whole thing into my response. But I do have to touch on a couple. The guilty loneliness… so succinctly and yet completely expressed. The second to last paragraph, the part about “if you had just left well enough alone, you’d be fine now!” I can’t count the number of times I have gone through that think. My sister-survivors try to tell me it is Andrew’s fault, not mine but if I had “Shut the fuck up” as you put it, my family would still have a pretense of being whole. It means so much to hear someone else feels that way too, sometimes. Thank you, thank you for posting this piece. I loved it. IM

      • Polly says

        Thank you so much. It is extremely comforting to know that someone out there is going through a lot of the same things, regardless of how completely insane it all feels most of the time.

        I find myself nodding my head and wanting to say “yes!” when I read your posts, because the vast majority of the things you have to say speak to me.

        I haven’t told my family yet and I don’t know if I will. And in terms of what I hear him saying in that quote, I don’t know specifically when he said it and can only guess at the context, but it kind of jumped out at me when I first wondered if I had ever been molested. I heard him, and it was so vivid. But I do feel as though if I had just left well enough alone by quieting those thoughts and shoving them back down, I wouldn’t currently be losing my mind.

        Thanks for your amazing feedback.

        And, all I can add to this is that it wasn’t your fault, since you mentioned it. I have to repeat that to myself as well.

  18. janne says


    There is the kind of loneliness that screams at you at night, gnawing on your sheets till they are dripping wet, gripping your pillow and crying out for relief. The kind of loneliness that follows you and stabs you in the back throughout the day, saying, “Pay attention, stupid…nobody wants you.” This kind of loneliness watches you, waiting for the unsuspecting moment when you are idle, creeping into your daydreams when you thought you were happy, penetrating your everyday craziness, relentlessly reminding you that you are, and were always alone.

    There is the kind of loneliness that lingers, clinging to you to like the fabric sheet from the dryer, crumpled and repeatedly stuck to your pant leg when you are trying to fold things and put them away. The kind that sighs aloud to distract you, making you think that gravity is your friend, and then letting you float away in a wisp of smoke.

    There is the kind of loneliness that makes you feel so small and insignificant, while you again you search the piercing sea of stars a million miles away, waiting for a message that you are part of something after all.

    What kind of loneliness are you that makes me ache with emptiness? You have carved out the center of my being and left a cavity so large and empty, it echoes. I pull the long silk threads of hope out and wrap them around me for protection, and yet I feel the tug, tug, tug of you drawing me back inside the darkness. Your sunken eyes and seductive voice call me inward, “What were you thinking?” you say. Don’t be fooled by busy-ness or companionship or love. This is the way it will always be.

    • says

      Janne, Welcome to the Roadmap Blog–I hope to see your words and comments here frequently in the weeks to come. Thanks for sharing this raw and uncensored piece. I only take issue with the last line–“This is the way it will always be.” I believe that Loneliness thinks it will always be that way–but for us human beings–nothing is permanent–no mind state, no single emotion. We are always growing, evolving and changing–and even though it sometimes feels like despair or loneliness or grief is a permanent state–it really isn’t.

  19. Eve says

    There’s a kind of loneliness that comes when you are tied down to your hospital bed. Your hands have padded mittens over them so they cannot be used. So badly you want to pull the tracheostomy out of your neck & the feeding tube out from your nose. You don’t understand that if the trach is dislodged that you will suffocate like a fish out of water. You squirm & wiggle in an attempt to maneuver yourself, to no avail. Maybe you do know that you will die if you can get the breathing tube out, and that is all you truly desire at this point. To be set free from this living nightmare you are experiencing in this sterile intensive care unit, but it is someone’s job to see that your torture endures. To make sure the doctor’s orders are followed to the tee. Maybe you wish you could have put the cigarettes down long before you walked through the hospital door. Or maybe you just wish you could put one to your mouth right now. You can’t communicate because your voice is missing. Your trying desperately to say something, but no one can read your lips. Your nurse decides to give you one moment to take off the annoying mitts from your hands to try to write your thoughts down. You grab the pen and put it directly to your mouth like it’s a cigarette, and try to take a puff in your foggy delirium. Your given one more chance to get the words out, but instead you reach for the tracheostomy again in a last attempt to get it out. Maybe you are trying to find your lost voice, because you can’t possibly write down all that you would love to say. Or again, maybe you just want to die…

    • Terry Gibson says

      Eve, This is so intense, vivid. It took me back to a similar experience of waking up in intensive care. Although I was there for different reasons, your description took me there in a heartbeat. Beautifully written. So glad you shared it.

  20. sonya m says

    There is a kind of loneliness that creeps up my neck when I think I’m the only survivor in the world. I’m in the thick of my healing and it permeates my soul. I feel empty sometimes, like a crying child. Loneliness is the grieving child emptying her body of all pain. Loneliness is eight child alters screaming in my head.

  21. Laurie M says

    There’s a type of loneliness that creeps up in a marriage. That type of loneliness that can’t quite connect your dreams to your reality. That type of loneliness that realizes your heart is a part of that great compromise you once heard marriage is about. There is a type of loneliness when you realize a part of you will never be reached by the person you married, and it’s even lonelier when you figure out it matters. There is a loneliness in hiding the tears when you know this; a loneliness in putting your better foot forward. There is a loneliness when you put effort into concentrating on the all the good. There is a loneliness in the whole idea of “staying positive.”

    There is a kind of loneliness in relying on friends more than a spouse. There is a kind of loneliness when you have to consciously remember to include your spouse on the invite list to your party. There is a type of loneliness to replying “fine” each day when he comes home and asks you how your day was. There is a type of loneliness in not wanting the conversation to go any further.

    There is a kind of loneliness in remembering failed relationships without proper good-byes, and there is a kind of loneliness when those phone calls go unanswered years later.

    There is a kind of loneliness in yearning for someone you have yet to meet, when your life is so comfortable. There is an unfathomable kind of loneliness when you see how insulated you are from discomfort, from availability, from hope. There’s a kind of loneliness when you fantasize, and then consider the cost.

    • says

      Laurie, this was a very powerful, provocative post for me and it resonated deeply for me. I loved the whole thing, but particularly this last part, “There is a kind of loneliness in yearning for someone you have yet to meet, when your life is so comfortable. There is an unfathomable kind of loneliness when you see how insulated you are from discomfort, from availability, from hope. There’s a kind of loneliness when you fantasize, and then consider the cost.” Bravo for your courage at posting this–I’m sure your words will ring true for many people–and they were so well said!

      • Laurie M says

        Thanks, Laura. I knew I needed to write on this prompt when I saw it come up, but could only bookmark it until tonight. Wasn’t sure what truths needed to surface, but glad they came out.

    • Barbara Keller says

      I’m with Laura. I loved it. It spoke to me and for me. These lonelinesses are so real but not often mentioned because they don’t seem to be as poignant or tragic, but it’s real and sad and can eat away at you. The desire to be seen by the person you’re connected to the most. Hooray for you for putting your foot forward, best or not, for working and staying and trying and remembering.

      • Laurie M says

        Thank you Barbara–I really appreciate your point: “they don’t seem to be as poignant or tragic, but it’s real…” That is at the heart of it, the constant “trying to convince myself it doesn’t matter” kind of loneliness.

    • Kate says


      I have read this post over and over again. I felt as if I could have written it (although not so eloquently) myself. By writing this piece you have contributed. And I don’t feel as alone as I otherwise might. I still feel lonely, but not as alone in it. Thank you for your brilliance.

      • says

        Laurie, Welcome to the Roadmap Blog–I hope you come back to read, to comment, and hopefully, someday, to post your own writing. I hope you enjoy being part of our growing online community. P.S. Because the community has moved on to this week’s prompt, not many people will read what you’ve written here–but I did and I’ll make sure Laurie does, too.

      • Laurie M says

        Thanks, Kate for your comments. That is the magic of writing and getting truths on the page. I’m so glad that you let me know that I’m not alone in it, too. Thanks for the connection!

  22. Bobbie Anne says

    There is a kind of loneliness that exists for me as a writer and poet. Writing for me is a solitary art. I am used to being physically by myself. While I am grateful for Inspiration, Muses and Angels, I must say that the process is lonely. So I decided to change that. When I set out to do something, I stick with it.

    I started going to a creative writing class that meets once a month. I like being with others and we share what we write. I like writing poems. The class facilitator likes to write longer pieces. Guess what happened? I was published in a local magazine in print and the class facilitator was published by the same magazine online this month. It made my day that we both got regconized for our writing.

    • Bobbie Anne says

      oops, the word is ‘recognized’. I’m tired but that is the correct spelling. I had a lot of jobs while I went to college. One of them was as a proofreader! It was boring but I did it. Now I see all kinds of mistakes in print, in books, and in business letters.

      So even in this safe place, I felt the need to correct my tired spelling. That is all.

      • Bobbie Anne says

        Just want to write that it is okay to make mistakes. We are all human. That is how we learn. So I’ll probably make more mistakes, but so what? It isn’t the end of the world. This is a place where I can be me. I’m thankful and I’m glad I can express myself here. That in itself means a lot to me. :-)

    • says

      Bobbie Anne, congratulations! That’s terrific. I understand what you’re saying about feeling lonely writing. That’s one reason I’m such a proponent of writing classes and workshops. It’s not just that you feel less lonely–it’s that you feed off the words of others–in a good way–being inspired by the way words flow through their pens and fingers and minds….a great synergy occurs between people in a writing circle. There’s nothing like it.

      • Barbara Keller says

        It made me really sad that I’m too far away to attend any of your writer’s groups. I think it would be great. I’m glad they exist even if I can’t avail.

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