The Difference Between Being Alone and Being Lonely

Photo by subliminalfox@deviantart, CCAttributionNoDerivatives3.0

I am an only child, born to parents that separated when I was a toddler. While I did not want for basic material needs, I had no parenting. I was forced to learn life on my own. It comes as no surprise to me that I am an introvert. Being alone comes naturally to me. I need this time to speak to myself, to sort through my thoughts and feelings. This is the time that I dream, hope, mourn and plan. Some days I stay in one place and be with myself, Other days may involve a journey. A walk in the park. A movie with popcorn and soda. An afternoon browsing books or records, gadgets or games. An evening reading a book or listening to music, fiddling with a gadget or playing a game. None of this has anything to do with anyone else. An affinity for being alone is part of who I am. I was happy at this time, with a very close circle of friends that I enjoyed spending time with in the times that I did not want to be alone.

Over 40 years, there are only four people that I would say were my close friends. (This does not include the person I am related to by marriage, who I place in a unique category.) These are friends that I trusted with the things that could hurt me. It came to pass that two of them betrayed me and destroyed my life. Over many years the wounds have begun to heal, but the scars will forever remain. I made the conscious choice to push away everyone else and avoid relationships that make me vulnerable. Between my parents and those two friends, I’ve lost much of my faith in basic human goodness. My world has been a darker place since this decision, but I don’t think I can survive another bout with emotional devastation on that scale.

At work I am an organizational leader. It is easy to maintain professionalism. I know that colleagues and subordinates wish that I would be a bit warmer, but this is a place where keeping people at arms’ length is expected. I’m very good at what I do, and am recognized and compensated accordingly. That’s where it ends. My personal life is off limits, and no emotional bonds leak through. A side benefit is when individuals create situations in this part of my life where intimacy is proffered, it is easy to refuse. It is hard to be compromised when not even the appearance of a non-professional relationship can be found. I cannot be put in an awkward position.

Why am I writing this for the world to read? Writing is part of my coping mechanism. Over time, the friendless nature of my existence has given way to loneliness. I miss the nights long ago of sharing life with people that I had much in common with. When I read blog entries from years past, I feel great loss. There is a void, and it hurts. As long as I am able to hold all emotion inside, I will. Loneliness is a price I remain willing to pay to eliminate the risk of destruction. The internet has provided an avenue to interact with others while keeping armor on and shields up. It ends there. I write to communicate with no one in particular, and for now that is enough.


2 thoughts on “The Difference Between Being Alone and Being Lonely

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post. I read word by word without stopping or focusing on anything else. I suppose it is because I relate to some parts and well, you had me at the title.

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