What is loneliness?

Is there an inherent loneliness in knowing that something you are about to express is unloving or hurtful - but you express it anyway?

Loneliness is by its very nature a separation but it seems to be that there are forms and degrees of this individuated affliction. The obvious end of the loneliness spectrum is someone who lives alone, is people-averse and communicates with difficulty or doesn’t communicate at all. All sorts of substitutions may be used to fill the void in human contact: reading, TV, hobbies, pets, occupation, busyness, with more particularly, opinions, biases and beliefs being used as justifications.

A small example – ‘She spoke to me in such a hurtful way yesterday, it felt so hard, she really is up herself’. The first part of this statement might easily be factual – however the last five words form a judgement and there enters the separation that although minor, feels acutely lonely. A disconnection has occurred and since our essential nature is to connect, this is painful, whether noticed or not.

The next time you meet that person, if the judgement has stuck (and judgements usually do stick fast) then the temptation to retaliate through action or inaction, by way of withdrawal, rejection or dismissal can rear its head. Open your mouth, the words are there and if they are expressed ‘imbued with hurt’, immediately the loneliness is compounded.

Any actual feeling of connectedness and love, sensed as a ‘felt love within’ recedes in the face of the need to express from hurt while trying to disguise the fact that you have been hurt. Even the merest expression of hurt always reveals the hurt itself, in spite of all self-denial, because all of us are acutely sensitive and feeling beings.

If a loving connection with yourself is not held precious enough to resist the temptation to speak or act ill or judgmentally, then the feeling of separation that ensues is at the heart of all loneliness.

Isn’t it a ‘felt’ fact that isolation is fostered by speaking from hurt or withdrawing through lack of expression? This suggests that loneliness is only ever and always that which comes from an expression of love being held back or hindered.

So my mouth is opening, my lips are forming the words and I know, I can feel the hurt that presses to be expressed and that is the point at which loneliness hovers to be born. Do I feel this enough to desist, to not speak, to go still and thereby reconnect to the inner sense of myself?

Or do I succumb and animate the hurt once again – have it all to myself. Do this often enough and yes you or I will be lonely, often without any insight into the cause, the mechanism.

This is a point of evolution that probably occurs every day; an opportunity to grow in communication and understanding and leave loneliness behind.

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  • By Alan Johnston, Photographer

    I have studied Social Documentary Photography. Lots of life experience throughout which I have kept a keen sense of humour.

  • Photography: Rebecca W., UK, Photographer

    I am a tender and sensitive woman who is inspired by the playfulness of children and the beauty of nature. I love photographing people and capturing magical and joyful moments on my camera.