Somewhere I read that after the Gods made Adam, they agreed, “It is not good for man to be alone.” So they created Eve.
I’ve been alone ever since I was born. If not physically, then mentally.
Physically, I was an unwanted war baby from October of 1945. My adopted parents didn’t know what to do with me. In January of 1951, I was a ward of the court, living in a “Children’s Home.” I ended up back in my own “home,” but in the middle of third grade, I was shipped off to a boarding school. Once again, I returned “home,” but by high school I had been in trouble so many times, I was sent to a foster home in another state. The alternative would have been a juvenile detention center.
All those years of training taught me how to keep to myself. Mentally, I escaped all that hurt into my own mind. I had no friends – just acquaintances – the kind of acquaintances with whom you get into trouble.
An Introvert? Absolutely. Selfish? Absolutely.
The song “All Alone Am I” keeps reverberating in my head ever since Brenda Lee first sang it in November of 1962:
All alone am I
Ever since your goodbye.
All alone with just a beat of my heart.
People all around.
But I don’t hear a sound.
Just the lonely beating of my heart.
Even while married, I was alone. Much to the detriment of our family, I was always caught up in what course MY mind created, never even listening to the needs of others. A man standing alone on the bow of a ship may think he is king of the world until the waves and the howling wind beat him down. Much better to be in the bridge beside the first mate.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise then, to know that I have been physically alone since my youngest graduated high school and left for brighter skies. That was July of 1999.
I don’t let anyone “in.” I don’t try to become a part of anyone else.
I guess I am not alone in being lonely. According to my local paper, “A study at the University of Chicago found that loneliness has doubled in the U.S. since the 1980s, affecting up to 60 million Americans. All these feelings of isolation can increase a person’s chances of premature death by 14 percent and early death in the elderly by 45 percent. . . loneliness affects the immune system and can be as damaging as obesity or smoking. Loneliness, he writes in his study, impairs immune function, boosts inflammation and can lead to heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and even dementia, cancer and fatigue.”
“Human beings are social animals. Socializing with others is an essential need for most of us,” said Dr. Brent Blaisdell, a licensed marriage and family therapist and Intermountain employee assistance program coordinator at McKay-Dee Hospital. “The research is quite clear. People need people. Those that have a robust social network simply do better mentally, physically, and emotionally than those that do not.” (Emphasis mine.)
As Sir Walter Scott wrote:
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.
Spiritually, I think my loneliness will extend into the next world. Since I refuse to share, I won’t be forced to. My hell will simply be an extension of this life – alone.
Loneliness is hell.
Hell is being alone.