...even when I’m with people
How does it come to this? How can someone be among many people and still feel alone?
Let me share my story with you as an example...
Being an only child, I remember during my early days at school reveling in the idea that I’d be among my classmates. I’d also look forward to visits from my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. I even had one aunt whom I really connected with because she reminded me of Betty in the Flintstones. She always seemed cheerful and content.
When I was young, my parents were building their family business. I felt that they had relatively little time for me, so my other friend was the Chrysler TV set. It was here that I “bonded” with TV and movie personalities, Paul Hogan, The Goodies, Bert Newton, Don Lane and Tony Barber who hosted Sale Of The Century, a very popular quiz show in Australia during the 80’s and 90’s. This era of my life was happy. As I grew older, other actors from shows like MASH, Love Thy Neighbour and Are You Being Served would keep me company and make me laugh.
These shows were a very important comfort and distraction for me going into my teens and into my early 20’s. I would even (privately) mourn, as if I’d lost a close family member, when one of the characters or actors from a movie or TV show passed away.
To many, this may seem absurd. I’d never met any actors face to face and I was too shy to write them fan mail for fear that it would never be answered or lost among thousands of other fan mail letters.
Unfortunately, this era of happiness changed. Sometime between Junior School and High School I became isolated. I drifted away from many of my school friends whom I started school with and my visits with my aunts and uncles gradually diminished as their lives became busier and more consuming as I grew older. I’m not blaming anyone for this situation, it’s just how it was, but it was a major contributing factor which led me to retreat into my room, isolating myself with my Atari or Commodore 64.
My school marks dropped as did my personal fitness and self-esteem. I gradually became more isolated from the rest of the world around me. In the school yard, I would walk aimlessly around the ovals, unable to join any games the other students were playing. I felt left out. On top of this, some students had turned into bullies and had their niche groups for backup and support. I felt intimidated and generally alienated from them.
As if that weren't enough, my dogs, who I’d known since I was born, had to be put down due to old age.
The only friend I had close to home was a girl who used to live over the road from me, but even so, I was to shy to ask her to come and play with me. I could only play with her in the park if she was there. When her family moved, I would walk aimlessly around the park, hoping that she would somehow return, but it never happened. I was left holding a bunch of happy memories and a reality that none of it existed anymore.
With all these problems looping over and over in my mind and no answers in sight, my happiness disappeared and I slipped into a deep depression with seemingly no end in sight. I withstood this isolation for over four years as a child turning into a teenager.
In my loneliness, I believed I was cursed. All these bad things couldn’t all be just coincidence, surely? It did not occur to me that my beliefs and worries were a form of self sabotage. This self sabotage nearly cost me my life!
So how did I turn this around?
My pain became so intense that something had to give. I had been waiting for a miracle from a source outside myself to intervene and turn things around, but of course miracles are extremely hard to come by. I grew impatient and decided that I had to initiate the change.
I had to become the change. Even in the darkest despair, I arrived at a new decision: Rebuild my group of friends, even if I have to do it one at a time, over decades if necessary.
A belief can be changed instantly, an action takes time.
As long as you have the correct mindset that serves your interests, you have a solid basis to move forward. If I’d had the right coaching, I would have avoided putting up with this so long, but I didn’t at the time and would not have known where to go to find help like this.
What became of me once I made that decision? I’m now in contact with 10 friends from Kindergarten (including that friend from who used to play with me in the park) 15 friends from my first year to my last year at school, numerous friends through Dance Sport including several teachers, and a number of friends in the U.S. I met through my travels. This does not include all my other associations with fellow Toastmaster public speakers, neighbours and friends of friends I maintain contact with through social media.
Thanks to this one change, I developed many more techniques for building long lasting and important relationships which I now use to coach children, teenagers and adults. This helps me make the world around me a happier and more connected place.
If the cost of loneliness is becoming too much to bear for you, then maybe it’s time to reach out for help.
Contact me here and together we will discover what needs to be done for you...