Finding Delight Again

            Loneliness is a killer. If not physically disabling, the awful silence in a house of one person threatens madness.  No wonder lonely people watch so much television!  Electronic voices fill the void and provide resistance to that flood of nothingness that perversely insists on attention. That feeling, my friends, is madness.

            The prescription for treating loneliness is contact with other human beings, so we who are lonely go out and join a church or some other organization in an effort to find a place where we fit. We don’t find satisfaction until we roll up our sleeves and include ourselves in the work of the place we have joined.  Soon we are engaged and reasonably happy, but not quite.  What is missing is that intimacy of being with another person special to you, someone who senses what you need and gives it to you, someone to whom you give back just as freely.

            Ah, there’s the rub, finding that special person.  Technology can help, especially if paired with good old-fashioned willingness to share something of ourselves.  I went online to play bridge in a game room that offered chat.  Seems that the mannerly thing to do was to compliment one another after a well-played hand of bridge or to soften a loss with words of encouragement.  In the electronic bridge room, that translates to “gt,p,” which is “good try, partner.”  Practicing these niceties built up my courage to offer bits of information about myself. Soon some special friends at the bridge tables knew about and were interested in the new book I had written on aging. 

            I then friended them and had a private chat.  Before long I was emailing a charming woman in Texas, getting to know someone new and sharing myself with her.  It was exhilarating.  We even talked on the telephone once.  I felt my life interests expanding. I was making new friends.

            Then in came a gentleman friend, who bought my book.  We began to look for one another in the online bridge rooms.  Soon, we, too, were emailing. He’s a match for me in age, in intellect, in our various interests, but he’s a thousand miles away with an established family, very definitely out of reach, except as a special friend.  You see, he is lonely too because his wife has Alzheimer’s.

            My online contacts bring me delight in living. In a way, it is a “let’s pretend,” world because we know we are unlikely to meet face to face. Our various lives are too complicated, and it is too expensive and exhausting for some of us to travel long distances and fuel untested friendships that way.  But online and in our imaginations we can find delight once more.  Our life stories are fresh and meaningful, and we get to remind ourselves that indeed we have had some great times in life. There’s a validation and a great sense of freedom to be one’s true self once more.

            For me, my old friends and loved ones—those long gone in divorce and death and simple neglect become real once again in chatting with new friends.  Intimacy returns in memory blessedly washed in waves of positive experiences, all negatives drained off.  This getting older is fun when I allow my imagination the freedom it deserves.  It pays off in newfound delight.

 

Comments

  1. Brenda Bellinger says:

    A well written blog piece that offers encouragement to adults who find themselves alone.

  2. Like what you wrote and love your new website. You’re encouraging me to get my blog going again.
    Congratulations and kudos for getting it together so well. I have a friend whom I’ll tell about your first book. She would love it.

    Elaine

  3. Loved this thoughtful piece on reaching out and making new friends as a way to lessen loneliness. I have also found that loneliness can be banished by helping others. Sometimes a friend needs help with moving from one plance to another, or needs help with a garage sale or with preparing for a large party. Sometimes all that is needed is meeting for coffee/tea and some good conversation.

    And sometimes, if I’m really lonely, I’ll just call several people and invite them over for an afternoon or evening of games (board games are popular in my neck of the woods) and conversation.

    I also hang out with folks who share my interests — writing, photography, music, books, good food, etc.

    Although, as you point out, it’s not so easy to connect with that special someone who will become an intimate friend, I have found that good friends grow more deeply in my heart as the years go by.

    Thanks for a great blog piece!
    And I invite you to visit my blog, “Onword,” at http://bit.ly/EQbWb
    You might enjoy some of my posts…you and I write about similar things.
    sunny

  4. Carolyn says, Jan. 6, 2012
    My dear friend Kathryn wrote this book last year and I really needed it this year. My husband has been acutely ill and hospitalized for the last 2 1/2 months. I didn’t know if he would live or die. This book gave me such comfort and validation through this process of being by his side. I have felt totally powerless. This book gave me courage to ask lots of questions and to be his advocate. The humor in Kay’s book helped me heal each time there has been a new roller coaster ride of emotions. Thank you again for your honesty and vulnerability. I cherish you and this special book.
    Carolyn

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