Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Loneliness: My Constant Companion

Ever since I was a tiny child I have yearned for a playmate (back then it took the form of wanting a twin, then it was desiring a boyfriend as soon as I knew boys existed). Then as I grew up the term "best friend" entered the equation. I remember that in every year of school I had one or two very close friends (starting in second grade an onward), but I was an extremely social child. This was due in major part because school forced us together and I had many extracurricular after school as well. And I had my very social mother who would introduce me to new playmates or adopt new mommy friends who had daughters my age. I don't remember being lonely as a child because I was in constant (and I do mean constant) contact with a friend. I recall coming home directly after school and calling preferred friend #1 and asking to go over, or them come to my house. If they couldn't play, I then proceeded down my list of friends until someone could. It was rare that I ever had no one to play with. I still prayed excessively for a little sister, and finally got one at age 7.5... and that age gap was too great to play with her (until very recently, because as adults age matters less).

I want to have a nerd herd so desperately (perhaps my desperation is the problem?), but it feels like such an impossible task. I see the articles about people who have at least one close friend live longer, and those without die younger. I see how important a support system is and it is an oppressive cloud hanging over my head. How does one go about looking for like-minded people? I cannot find who I’m looking for, and those I have found have left by and large. I feel abandoned (even though I know not one of them did it on purpose), it is my curse to find a friend, become close and then watch them depart to bigger and better things. I have even begun mentioning to my new friends my curse, and they then reassure me that they’re not going anywhere in the foreseeable future… and less than a year later they are gone. This is not only military members (who have taken two of my close friends far, far away), but regular teaching positions or other job opportunities elsewhere. It definitely is my anathema.

The very worst part is that I have found the ultimate friends, the ones where we “click” and are great matches… that hurts all the more when I’m alone, and makes me devalue friendships who I see more as “placeholders” until the “worthier” friendships come along. When you’ve had a taste of perfection, it is hard to be as satisfied with less. That makes me sound like a completely awful individual, but there it is. That is me. I’m a perfectionist in everything, friendships included. It is not a lack of people who like me, it is a lack of people I truly like and who click with me on that once thought unattainable level.

I have decided this is something I will be tormented with until I move away from here. There are zero opportunities here, for me or for my friends. We are bound for superior places! I just wish that they were all in the SAME superior place. I want to be able to see my friends frequently, like once a week!

It struck me in my counseling class, when we were counseling each other and we were to use a real issue, that I have been so utterly lonely. I guess looking back that I could not stand the loneliness. I do like to be alone and can find great enjoyment singularly, but it does not compare to the perpetual playmates I had as a child. I’ve grown accustomed to using several things to help me when I’m lonely, I turn to all sorts of distractions ranging from healthy: reading, videogames, internet articles; to more unhealthy: borderline obsessive Facebook stalking, eating too much, etc.

I think the major loneliness survival tool has been eating. I do not eat anything at all when severely depressed, but I overeat when I’m anxious or lonely… which I feel incessantly.  At least now that I have noticed this behavior I can ask myself if I am truly hungry or if it is something else. I always have heard of emotional eating, and that term didn’t fit me because I eat less when I’m happy (but I also share happiness, I like to go out and do things when I’m in a good mood), but being sad does not change how much I eat, only the change in presence of others makes me eat more, like when I’m understimulated and alone. It apparently is something I do when bored and lonely, something that I enjoy that passes the time (and not all that much time typically, that is why I over eat, to get more of that happy fulfilled feeling). I think now that I’m aware I can work on it, and notice the true reason I eat. But I still need to work on accepting that major friendships will be fleeting or hope I can take root somewhere someday where like-minded individuals live so I can be in semi-constant contact with them. 

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