Being Alone versus Loneliness

Being Alone versus Loneliness

This post is from my experience with having a spouse in basic training; however, that does not mean that this post is solely for milsos. We will all face loneliness at one point or another, whether it stems from a break up, relocation, death, or falsely perceived loneliness stemming from mental illness. I have experienced loneliness from all these items. But, at present, I am not lonely. My husband is at basic, but I do not feel “loneliness.”

Being alone has pros and cons. We can’t always equate “being alone” with melancholy and exile. There’s a very fine line of social interaction that we walk every single day. Maybe your walk is straying a little to the right or left – that is okay. There are so many different ways to think about loneliness. Let’s explore:

During my undergraduate career, I took a class literally titled “Loneliness.” It was an upper-division elective for my psychology degree. It was on a Saturday in the middle of summer. It happened to be my birthday. And nothing against Mr. R – he was super rad with his disco music and oral cancer candy – but I don’t think that human loneliness can be fully explicated during one Saturday from 8-4:30. We learned that loneliness can be the cause for so many mental health issues. We demonized loneliness until an impartial view of “being alone” was impossible. Addiction? They’re lonely. Depression? They’re lonely. But I really think that being alone needs to be starkly separated from the feeling of loneliness. The linguistic roots of the words are the same, but our evolved human brains have complexified (that’s not a word) to a much more intricate level than just linguistic associations.

Being alone has value in self-care. And not “assigned value” by society; it actually has inherent value all by itself. Being alone – and learning to delve into the self exploration that this breaks open – that is an acquired trait. That is a learned trait. Actually soaking up all the usefulness of being alone is not something that will ever be accomplished in a day, but it is also something that can never be accomplished without you. You, in all of your naked and vulnerable states, are the sole key part to making the most of being alone. You.

Being alone serves so many purposes. It is not a proponent of addiction or depression; misunderstanding the role of being alone is the proponent of mental illness. I want you to know that there is a huge variety of benefits you can obtain from being alone: self-exploration, uncovering passions, solving problems, etc… Counseling is my passion. The urge to assist others with their problems came out of one of the loneliest times in my life. Now I can look back at tell you that all that time I spent feeling miserably lonely, I was undeniably confused about what was happening in my future life path. I could not fully comprehend what all the mechanisms that were working and gears that were turning in tandem until many years later. I spent a lot of time as a teenager feeling utterly abandoned because of some (un?)fortunate circumstances. I overcame those. During that time, I could not see the innerworkings of my personal passions becoming solidified. But I see it now.

It took me quite a few years to get back to a completely healthy place. When I am alone, I am not lonely. My husband is gone, but I am not lonely. My grandmother has passed away, but I am not lonely. My mother-in-law was taken much to soon, but I am not lonely. I have simply reached a portion of my individual journey where great happenings are bubbling up inside me. I have just reached a stretch of my life where C & I have emotionally united goals that we are striving toward. I have reached a point in my life where my grandmother & I are separately working toward our goal of creating a legacy. My mother-in-law & I are still, undeniably, working together on our united goal of C’s well being. I am not lonely. You are not lonely. What shared goals are you still working toward? What activities do you feel help you get in tune with yourself? Why do you think we demonize being alone?

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