Recently in a therapy session, in our continued work through The Courage to Heal, one of the writing assignments had to do with picking out 3 emotions from a list and writing about what they mean to me in particular. Essentially what they feel like as a person who, in my case, has a history of childhood sexual abuse, and now has PTSD, Dissociation, Anxiety, and bouts of Depression.

The word I chose for my first assignment was “Lonely”.  This one jumped out at me almost immediately and I knew it would be one that I can definitely relate too.  So here it goes.

What does lonely feel like to me? It feels like being a 44 yr. old dude, alone on a Thursday night with nothing here but the sound of the fish tank, my sad music, and my thoughts.

The thoughts are the worst when you’re lonely. Every negative thing I’ve ever experienced comes to mind and is exacerbated by the quietness of this apartment. Even the sweet kisses from my little buddies, the two cats, only last but a fleeting moment when they take off to go lay down on the chair and snooze.

I can’t help but play the sad music playlist that I have. I have zero desire to play something upbeat and happy. I know I should be using coping skills, saying my mantra to myself, distracting, or pretty much anything other than what I’m doing right now. That’s what survivors are supposed to try to do right, snap themselves out of feeling lonely and depressed?  I guess, well actually I know, I’m still a work in progress because when I get this way, wallowing and vegging seems so much easier than working through the emotion I”m feeling.

I reach out on Twitter and find a friend who’s having a rough day also, I give him or her some encouraging tweets there is help when we are lonelyand they are grateful that I reached out to say Hello, it makes their day. For a brief moment I feel good, until the reality of the situation sets in again and another song starts.  I reach out again and interact for a while with another amazing survivor, and I’m happy for a time until the conversation ends. It’s incredible, in a sad way, how quickly I can go from happy to sad.

Lonely is leaving work on a day when you are kid free and you go to Walmart just so you don’t have to go home yet. Or you call up your daughter to go to dinner but that only lasts an hour before she has to head home and study. I’m grateful for that hour, a nice distraction from reality, but as soon as I get settled in and say hello to the cats, the “ok now what” thoughts hit. As if they are lying in wait like a mountain lion perched just out of sight and downwind of its prey, ready to pounce when the moment is right.  Game over, I’m done for the night.

Lonely is sitting here, paging through Facebook and seeing happy people’s posts and wishing I had that, even getting somewhat jealous that I don’t. Even though wise mind tells me that not everything everybody posts on Facebook is true, it would still be nice to have the energy or desire or ability to post up positive things about my life more often.

I send a text to a friend, but there is no reply. I send out another one to a different friend, but turns out they are busy. A call to another former classmate goes to voicemail.

So I begin to write,and while I’m engrossed in my thoughts and typing away, I feel a better because I know that what I’m writing is real, true, and helping me heal. Hopefully it continues to help others heal too.

I finish up though and just like that lion perched down wind, it’s ready to strike again.

There’s nothing to do tonight, but read and fall asleep early.

This is my world when the lonely feelings set in. Try as I might to fight them off, they are powerful. Right now they win more often than I care to admit, but one day hopefully that will change.