Only the lonely


Lately, I’ve been feeling . . . well, I dunno.  Out of sorts?  At a loss?   I’ve been trying to put my finger on it.  Trying to just feel the feelings and do some investigation. What the hell is this?  Depression?  No. Anxiety?  No.   I hate to admit it,  but what I think I’m feeling is, uh, loneliness.

This feeling of loneliness is rather new to me.  I’ve always enjoyed being alone.  In fact, I often crave being alone.  Being alone is my natural state.  It’s being with people that has always been hard.

But yet . . .

I don’t know what has changed.  I mean, why all of a sudden am I feeling lonely?  I don’t get it.

The other night really made me realize that I need more of a social life, but one that is age appropriate.  After work a bunch of us went out to dinner, which I had never done with them before. It was a pleasant outing.  But, as the evening was still quite young when we adjourned a couple of my colleagues suggested I join them at a gay bar in the Castro.  Since I had nowhere better to go and I feel really comfortable among the gay community I agreed.

Being a Friday night, the club was quite crowded with mostly cute, young gay men.   The music was blaring and I could barely hear a word that my colleagues and their friends were saying.  Mostly I smiled and bounced my head to the beat.   One of my colleagues was getting quite drunk, and the other was greeting every other man who walked by as if he were the greeter at Wal-Mart.  After about an hour or so, the other woman in our group had to pee and was informed that there was no women’s bathroom, so we all left.  My friends went off to a different club which actually had a women’s bathroom and I opted to head home. It was only 10:30.

The next night, the boyfriend came over, as usual.  As my neighbor’s daughter was having her in Quinceañera party in the street, I felt it was best to just stay in for the evening.  I didn’t want to risk having to run over a bunch of 15 year olds by leaving for and then returning from dinner.  We grilled up some dinner and hung out for a while outside.  By 8pm, the boyfriend decided to go to bed leaving me angry and wondering what was the damn point of him coming over.

So, in this one weekend it became clear that I was no longer 25 with a high tolerance of noise and drunkenness, yet neither am I ready for the early bird special and bed before 9.  There has to be a happy medium when it comes to a social life.

Finding and maintaining friends as an adult is challenging.  Unlike when you’re younger and your friends have nothing better to do than “hang out”, adults have careers, families, and tend to be more entrenched in their habits and interests.  Also, I think more mature adults  have a little more wisdom as to how they want to spend their time. So, if a night out hearing an Indian-Sufi funk band holds no appeal to someone, then they’re  less likely to come along just for the hell of it or because there is nothing better to do.

I’m not complaining about my friends.  I have great friends.  And I have more friends now than I have had in the last 20 years or so. I guess it would be nice to see them more often.  But, it’s challenging. You would not believe the number of phone calls and texts and emails that it took to simply coordinate just three of us to go out and hear some music.  Somehow as I get older simple social acts just seem to take so much more effort.

But, I know it can be done.  Granted, it is a lot easier when there is some kind of structure that supports it, whether it is a shared workplace, gym, class, club or spiritual organization,  or maybe a deeply entrenched habit or ritual like a regular Girl’s Night Out.  At least that’s my theory. I also think that introverts like myself tend to be drawn to other introverts, and as you can imagine, that also can make socializing somewhat challenging.

I’ll figure out.  It’s just a touch of loneliness.  It ain’t gonna kill me.  But, I’ll listen to it, pay attention and make adjustments as needed.

And come on, isn’t there anyone out there who wants to go catch this cool Indian-Sufi funk band tonight?

15 responses »

  1. I’d love to check out the Indian-Sufi funk band… let’s do it. I really do hear you about all that other stuff, too.

    Right now, I’m struggling not with loneliness but kind of struggling against co-dependence. Its been 8 months my current significant other and I met, and we’re so enthralled with our little world, that we hafta make a conscious effort to spend time apart, and hang out with other people, and give space. I’m glad that we do that, and it’s pretty equal- I think both of us are mindful of trying not to be unhealty, and sometimes I impose it even if I’m not feeling the need, but after one day away things seem sorta cattywampus, and if it’s two days I totally have like system fail, and feel really out of it, and my sense of continuity with him seems disrupted and it’s just really weird and unsettling, that he is so integral to my everyday life. At least to my happy, everyday life. Any relationship I’ve had tends to at some point between now and five months from now, so I have a lot of anxiety about all this. I end up pushing him away and make physical efforts to be around other people instead, but emotionally I’m sort of out of it, and end up not feeling satisfied or probably being satisfying company.

    It’s really hard to be objective about whether this is all good or bad, cus the fear plays a part.

    Maybe if we last for a long period of time I can start reacting to how I feel, and be more relaxed in the context of the relationship instead of reacting to the fear I’m having over how I feel. But right now, it’s a work in progress.

    (and there’s my post for the day. Sorry to blab and blab and blab)

  2. Love your post…I can really relate.

    You are welcome to join our GNO…the next night out is going to be movie night to see the new Julia Child movie featuring Meryl Streep. I’ll send you details when we figure it out and you can decide if you want to come.

  3. If there is one thing I hate, its going to the bars with friends.

    I know a lot of people I work with, and they go out drinking quite often. However, when they return to work together, they have nothing really meaningful to talk about (other than how stupid they were in a drunken stupor). I’m 33, and fall right in the middle of the age spectrum of these people I work with. In the end, I rarely go out with most of them and don’t feel any real sense of loss when I can’t contribute to the “drunken idiot” stories.

    In the end, I would rather just stay home with Wife and relax. Or get together with a couple of good friends, fishing or diving, or doing whatever.

    Good friends are hard to come by, and when you get them, might as well make the best of it.

  4. I hear ya on the ‘it takes a million emails and texts to organise anything’: it has taken me over a week just to organise 5 of us going to see the nee Harry Potter movie and then on to dinner…

    Just gotta expect that and plan ahead I think.

    And I’d totally be up for the Sufi band with you 🙂

  5. One of the great things about belonging to a quasi-cult like group like the NKT is that my social arrangements are quite simple. In general, I simply attend my regular events and these come packaged with instant friendships.

    However, I do know what you mean. S0metimes I miss the ordinary worldly friendships I used to have. Actually, I still have those friendships. I just don’t socialise much anymore, so don’t actually hang out a lot with people.

    I recently had a public breakup on my blog with 2 friends I’ve known for 20 plus years. And it was on some silly point where I objected to being criticised for my buddhist faith. And now, in theory, we’re no longer friends. They’ve dumped me.

    The fact is, 10 years ago these “good friends” left me stranded on a mountain in Northern South Africa because we had a disagreement back then on some equally miniscule point. I had find my own way back to Johannesburg, because I had foolishly agreed to make the trip in their car!

    When ever I disagree with one, I find myself at war with both, because they’re brothers.

    Who needs it?

    I think if you had to examine most of the friendships you’ve had over the years, you’ll notice that most of them are not as satisfactory or as fulfilling as you tend to think they are. Even those so-called good friendships that survive several decades are largely based on mutual attachment, and can often be quite counter-productive and poisonous.

    I think there’s no way to escape loneliness.

  6. Am – it’s one thing or another, ain’t it? Never alone, too often alone. It’s a matter of accepting wherever we are and whatever happens. It’s not always pleasant, despite our best efforts. Oh, and feel free to blab away anytime.

    AnotherQ – thanks for the invite. That would be lovely if I can make it. Any interest in seeing Dave Eggers at Book Passages this Thursday?

    BBG – I think the drums were quite adequately handled, though you might be able to audition for backing vocals. Thanks for the nice evening.

    Adam – yeah, even in my drinking days I wasn’t much of a bar person. If I went to a club it was to hear a particular band, not just hang out.

    I admit, I envy the scene you and Iver and company have going up there. Looks like a tight group of friends living a good life. I’m happy for you.

    BBG – uh thanks?

    woo – yeah, I guess it can be expected, but it just seems so unnecessary, ya know? Oh yeah, and the band totally rocked. I think the most amusing part of the evening was watching people adjust their preferred style of dance to the Bhangra beat.

    WisdomJunkie – you’re right – w/ involvement in the NKT comes instant friendships. And I do miss that. I have yet to find a sangha or any group (spiritual or otherwise) that I see on a regular basis. So leaving the NKT left a hole in both my schedule and my friendly contact with others. Actually, most of my friends now are people I met while in the NKT. I really don’t have a lot of old dear friends, for various reasons. But, mostly b/c I didn’t put in the effort, so now I’m reaping the results.

    And yes, I read those comments on your blog and I was wondering about the back story. It struck me as sad.

    I recognize that loneliness is a part of the human condition. But, for me, it is almost a new feeling since I’ve spent much of my adult years avoiding people if possible. I’m thinking that perhaps it may be a residual of my retreat where a lot of my armor got stripped away. It’s not a bad thing.

  7. o yeah ‘retreat residuals’ thatz like return on investment rite? ~ time for a trip to the investment bankerz carnival = deep fried securities-ona-stick ~ yum!

    stripping armor = stripping amour? maybe monty the pie thon is more in order

  8. I notice, as time goes by, that while I not only cherish but absolutely must have alone time to maintain my sanity, I also have an increasing desire for deeper roots with people. There isn’t a better word for it than loneliness, but it’s not a needy kind of loneliness … more a realization that I’m part of the human race whether I like it or not, and I’d like to feel more invested, and less alien.

  9. My life has been somewhat similar lately. It’s difficult to get people together even though it’s almost always fun when we manage to do it. What makes it even more lonely for me these days is that quite a few of the people I like the most have moved away, and now my husband and I find ourselves seeking some new friends. As you pointed out, finding and maintaining friends as an adult is challenging (especially since we don’t belong to any clubs or organizations).

    Going to hear an Indian-Sufi funk band sounds like a great night out to me.

  10. I’ve felt the same way recently. Leading a team of 20-year-old does make you feel old. Let’s go to the bar! Let’s stay up all night! No thanks.

    Loneliness comes and goes, I do my best to deal with it as it arises.

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