I’ve met Loneliness. He walks into my room uninvited when I’ve decided to stay in on a Friday night. He dances with the skeletons in my closet and tries to call me closer. He brings Depression over for a slumber party, and they play charades with my insecurities. They mock me in the silence. They try to scream over the music. Too often they force me into bed early with my senses tingling that something isn’t right.
Loneliness has tricks up his sleeve, but his favorite is making me feel misunderstood. He tells me that I’m too different and too sensitive. He says that I have too many faded scars to find a place to belong or someone who wants to listen. He says that my story, while it is an open book, will never find a reader to latch on to it. He points out the gaps in my relationship history and the friendships that failed. He shows me what I could have while we scroll through Facebook. The worst days come when I believe him and his words of agony: that I am both too much and not enough.
It’s easy to get exhausted when he plays these mind games. But I’m there, standing with Depression and Loneliness and their many friends, and it’s easy to forget myself. When confronted by Guilt and Doubt, I lose my voice because theirs always drowns mine out. It feels like I’m stuck playing in front of a crowd that is never going to root for me.
To me, Loneliness is my biggest opponent – and he knows it. He knows that I can’t win unless I have someone there. He knows my bad days and my bad weeks. He’s got me down to a science, and I don’t even know his last name.
But despite his strength and trickery, there are times where I kick him out. I tell him to go home, that I have someone coming over. I tell him that I have a good book to read with a mug of warm tea waiting for me. I tell him that I need the sleep to go out tomorrow. I share all the jokes I heard over the week. I rant to him about the phone calls that I’ve made and the messages that I’ve received. I annoy him with how much I don’t need him there to fill the silence. I express in as many ways as I can that I’m fine sitting here on a Friday night with a set of movies to watch by myself – and he goes.
Of course, to say any of those things, I need people. I need someone to come over and someone to suggest the book to read and someone to tell me all those bad jokes. I need someone to sit there on the worst of nights, someone to kick out my unwanted company and to show me that I deserved better. I need each and every person in order to believe that I am needed and adored and not abandoned.
I think maybe that’s what drew me to TWLOHA’s message. I’ve heard Loneliness’ ugly knock on the door and invited him in. When I came across this organization, I was able to reassure myself that someone out there has a similar story to mine. I could believe in that. I could tell Loneliness he’s wrong and leave it at that. I could read these words and tell Loneliness to just go home.
Each of us has the power to tell him goodnight, to tell Loneliness that we don’t need his company or his friends. We are stronger than his slumber party of Addiction, Depression, Self-Injury, and Self-hate. We deserve better company because – despite how we feel – we matter, we belong, and we are loved.
People need other people. We need them to listen to our stories, to laugh with us, and to share in our struggles. People need other people because together we’ll never have to believe that we are alone.