Only the Lonely

June 26, 2008

Published in the May 1, 2007 Edition of QSaltLake. 

All alone I didn’t like the feeling,
All alone I sat and cried,
All alone I had to find some meaning; 
In the center of the pain I felt inside. 

-“Sand and Water” by Beth Neilsen Chapman

I feel that loneliness is an important part of life and personal growth. I know that the loneliness I have felt in my life has left me with no other option than to “find some meaning in the center of the pain I felt inside.” There is meaning in the pain we feel. 

In my nursing classes they teach us that pain is an indicator that something is wrong. We’ve been taught that “pain is whatever the patient says it is and exists whenever the patient says it does.”

I think it’s wrong to dismiss or belittle your own or someone else’s pain. In my own life I try not to ignore my pain. I’ve tried to look at it closely, to see exactly where it hurts, why it hurts, and what really made it hurt. It’s only in doing this that I’ve known how to treat my pain; whether to cradle it until it eases or whether to run it off on a treadmill.

There are so many lonely people in this world. I’ve encountered a lot of loneliness in the gay community. Sometimes the loneliest people are the ones that appear to have the most friends. Realize that people can still be strangers to you even if you know their names, even if you see them every day of your life. 

Loneliness is something every human being experiences. It’s an emotion that could unite us all except for the fact that we so quickly forget what it feels like as soon as it passes. It’s hard to relate to someone living under the crushing feeling of being alone when you aren’t feeling that same thing yourself. I think it’s a gracious thing that human beings so quickly forget the details of pain and suffering, but sometimes I wish people could relate just a little better to those on a down-swing in life.

When loneliness and pain set in, people panic, they try and run from it. This running takes on different forms. Sometimes the person latches onto a new boyfriend rather than losing the familiarity and comfort of such a relationship in their life. Some people try and lose their pain and loneliness by moving from where they’ve felt it so often. Others try and cover their pain and loneliness in ice cream and potato chips. A few even compromise who they are inside and what they want in life in order to fit into a group, any group, that will take them. But you can’t run from something that is inside you. And the only person or thing in this world that has the capability to complete and comfort you on the inside is you.

True loneliness, lasting loneliness, is not being comfortable with yourself. I dated a man that couldn’t stand on his own two feet. He always had to be in a relationship. So much so that before one relationship had ended he would begin a new one. In my view this is the worst kind of loneliness, the kind where you can’t even stand independently happy. This man’s loneliness and the actions that came from it caused me incredible personal pain. But I believe it’s hindered his life in a much greater way. 

Three months ago I began swimming with Queer Utah Aquatics Club or QUAC as they are more commonly known. The first time I went to a swim practice I went alone. I was overwhelmed with how friendly everyone was. Standing there in my speedo I didn’t feel judged at all. – Now, my friend Sutton assures me that I was being judged, but I didn’t feel that judgment. – All I felt was an overwhelmingly friendly welcome. 

I would like to suggest to you that maybe there is a person within your realm of existence that could benefit from an outstretched, friendly hand. I would also like to point out that if you do reach out to someone and they don’t accept your invitation of friendship and inclusion, that does not lessen the value of what you offered. Sometimes a person just needs to know that they were invited to the party, even though they may not be in a place where they can actually accept such an invitation.

Now, to put my money where my column is: If you have ever wanted to learn to swim, or to be a better swimmer, or if you just want to meet some fun new people, then I would invite you to swim with QUAC. The details are on their website: quacquac.org. I have an email address attached to this column. And if you would like to try QUAC out and don’t want to go alone, then drop me a line and I will be happy to meet up with you beforehand and then get you headed in the right direction at practice. 

Loneliness is a universal human experience, but remember that it is always temporary. Next time you feel it, acknowledge it, learn from it, and be better for it. But maybe more importantly, try and keep in mind that there are people who feel much more alone than you do. Look for them.

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2 Responses to “Only the Lonely”

  1. Can I ask though – how did you get this picked up and into google news?

    Very impressive that this blog is syndicated through Google and is it something that is just up to Google or you actively created?

    Obviously this is a popular blog with great data so well done on your seo success..

    The swimming greats you should write about next, my ex was an olympic swimmer!

  2. Protean said

    I don’t know what you mean when you say it was syndicated through Google. It must be something that is up to them.

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