Jack's septic skin graft
Yielding to pressure (and my apparent urges to debrief about some of the things that I think about), my principle reason for blogging is to help me process ideas for my creative writing so I will slip occasionally into dreadful verbose diatribe prevalent among wannabe writers. You have been duly warned. Now onto today’s topic.
A friend asked me how I deal with loneliness the other day. I don't actually think about it much to be honest, because I have good friends that mean it is rarely an issue. Nonetheless, the loneliness question is an interesting one. I feel lonely every now and then and more often than I would care to admit. I don't think that's particularly unusual and I don't think my responses to that feeling are out of the ordinary either.
Here's what I know. I probably feel loneliest when I'm at work. I don't really connect well with the folk in my work team – which I believe may be a bi-product of being a manager. There was a time when the connection was better, when I wasn’t the boss, when I could socialise with such folk without the concern that I would lose their respect if I behaved in any extraordinary way. While I generally don’t place a lot of weight on image, it is impossible to avoid in a work context where reputations are destroyed by idle gossip. Don’t really see the point in “work related” socialising if I cannot truly relax and be myself. So I largely don’t.
What I do in my leisure time then is critical to my well being. Some of what I do contributes positively and some of what I do contributes negatively.
Affiliation. I think the way I deal with loneliness generally is to spend time with my friends outside of work - with the people I do connect with on some level. I suppose that's the way most people deal with any occasional feeling of “not fitting in”.
Escape. I try not to drink alone - I will occasionally have a G&T after work but tend not to open bottles of wine unless I have someone to share the bottle with. I don't think there's anything anti-social about drinking alone - as long as it doesn't involve consuming one or two bottles in one sitting! My preferred (and more constructive) forms of escape are my hobbies – the writing, the photography, foodie stuff, movies and so on. And I realise that a key element of some of these hobbies is alone time. I guess that must mean I am comfortable in my own company. I know this to be true, with this weekend a prime example – I recharge by being a hermit every now and then!
Distraction. I manage to be “entertained” (unfortunately) by random encounters. I think I’m getting close to out-growing it but I still slip up every now and then. For example, went to a party at a friend's place not so long ago. I almost didn't go but I thought getting out of the house would be a good idea and I made an effort to doll myself up to cheer myself up. It had the desired effect with several of the boys at the party commenting on the 'pull-power quality' of the attire. There was one boy there that I had not seen before who slinked up to me later in the evening and we discussed how neither of us wanted to go dancing with the others, who were in the process of deciding to kick on to a club, and whether we might entertain each other doing something more low key. I said yes – I didn’t really need it and I didn’t really want it either but he was easy on the eye and built to entertain.
To quote one of my favourite soliloquies from an inspiring episode of “This Life”…Burned by experience. If you had the choice: to drink a free bottle of scotch with a boring git in a bar or to go to bed with a stick insect – bottle of scotch every time. All because of the one night stand. They are meant to be the solution. Crash, bang, wallop. No bad after effects. Ships that pass in the night. Works for you? No names, no small talk. You come, you go. Sometimes you don’t even come. No relationship. No ties. Nothing. And no one gets hurt. Just the sex – that’s all. Bollocks.
I guess the upshot of the anecdote is another way I tend to deal with loneliness is via the occasional meaningless one night stand. And, if it’s not immediately obvious by my inclusion of the quote above, I tend to be a little disappointed with myself when I slip up. It is soulless activity. When all is said and done though, who doesn't just get to a point sporadically where they need to touch skin that is not their own? Not really sure if it is what was meant by work-life balance… I could probably do a lot more to meet people like join a club or something but that seems so contrived to me.