S is for solitude and of course, solitude is very different to loneliness; even the word is prettier.
Loneliness is marked by a sense of isolation. Solitude, on the other hand, is a state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to self-awareness. (Psychology Today, 2003)
Self awareness huh? That shit is tricky … it’s packaged and marketed well, but potentially leads to discontent. I recommend a blend of solitude and distraction to anaesthetise the mind. Well hell, if I was going down the enlightened route I’d have said S is for Simeon Stylites. Solitude is a state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to neurotic obsessive over sensitivity.
What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours — that is what you must be able to attain. Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet
Inner solitude is good, yes, but I’d forego it for the outer kind. I’m an introvert with c-ptsd, if I didn’t get peace and quiet, I’d land up in foetal position, sobbing piteously. Sigh … it has happened. For me, solitude is far more tangible than it is spiritual. Too many people, too much noise, bright lights, these are things that blunt some of my senses and intensify others to the point of that thing where people break glass with their voices. Not. Pleasant. Anyone who’s ever had a proper panic attack knows exactly what I mean (poor sods).
I like being solitary for long enough to start really wanting to see my friends, or to head somewhere for a lovely coffee made my anybody who isn’t me. Loneliness really is shit. I only really, truly started to understand it and feel it once my mother had died and nextofkin had flown home. It didn’t just feel lonely, it felt desolate. Even that didn’t turn me into a sociable little sunbeam, however. I didn’t just want random people for the sake of it, I wanted people who, as Synapse would say, I can be alone with. And if the people you can be alone together with are fsr away, what then? Well, the blahpolar recipe for enjoying solitude while not going round the bend with isolation is as follows …
No, not that, this …
Rage, rail, weep, bitch, moan and whine about it. Shaking your fist at the sky and challenging the universe to bring it on is highly recommended.
The universe will indeed bring it; at this juncture, you should repeat step one for as long as it takes to break you.
Whenever people make constructive suggestions, you should snarl and emanate as much bitterness as you can. Thought you were already lonesome? Not till you’ve alienated your remaining friends, family, the woman at the post office etc etc.
That’s more like it, son. No more shaking of fists and beating of breasts (that just hurts anyway), no more sound and certainly no more fury. You’ve been hurled on to the tarmac of reality like Chris Rock when he was flung out of heaven in Dogma.
Now you need to sit in a corner, arms shielding your head, rocking gently and crying under your breath. Today’s word is pitiful.
Pull routine back into your life quietly and gradually. On no account should you admit this to anyone, because they will throw their hands up in the air and doing the hallelujah chorus. It’ll make you want to 1812 ’em.
Ffs have a shower.
Gently stick a toe outside – repeat until your entire body is out there and you are more or less ambulatory.
Walk. Walk every fucking day. A dog makes it a gazillion times easier. Go as slow as you want, just do six stepsmif that’s all you can handle, but do it.
Lather, rinse, repeat until you’re still incredibly unhappy, but rather enjoying the wistful sadness.
Reward yourself with chocolate or an orgasm or something.
Oh look, you’re getting up in the morning for a regular walk, sunshine no longer makes you weep, the world is peaceful, your home is quiet and your dog loves you. That’s quality solitude, that is. But don’t go looking for meaning without a canary and a hard hat.
Roll credits. Roll cigarettes.
Cos that’s how we roll.