My Loneliness is Killing me

Britney (Max Martin) wasn't the first homo sapien to float the idea of loneliness literally ending a life

This is a story of loneliness.

Like most divorced, single dads, I live on my own. It sounds fucking awesome, lots of pizza, beer, videogames and movies, no-one to tell you what to do or when to stop. You can invite pretty girls round for casual sex, build huge Lego spaceships or simply walk around nude and gaze at your ‘first edition’ Star Wars poster.

Except that is good for the first few months. After that, the realisation of your existence in a humble single-dwelling will eat you alive.

Loneliness is profoundly debilitating. It’s the worst thing I have ever experienced.

My loneliness is killing me.

The more you try to fix this issue, the more it comes back stronger. This is because being able to totally live on your own is a superpower that most humans can’t even hope to master.

I’ve been trying to make this work for 4 years now, when I left my marital home I rented a lovely garden flat in leafy South West London. It’s lovely, but I simply can’t deal with being here. I have amazing friends and family, I go on lots of dates, I have a career that on paper, is brilliant. What’s the issue?

The pandemic hit in February 2020. I’d just split up with another really amazing, yet broken and emotionally unavailable woman, who was going through a divorce (the devils work) and I was bedding down with the usual methodology of zero contact, drink ALL the beer and cry a lot, and in 6 months you can do this again (if you are still breathing).

My loneliness is killing me.

I am naturally a semi-introvert, I like meeting people, but I don’t make too much effort, and I don’t enjoy parties. Like most middle aged men I can count my close friends on one foot, and I lost a couple of them during my divorce and the pandemic (you really find out who your real friends are, I call it the ‘buddy detox’).

Anyway fast forward to today and I’m trying to overcome my ‘pandemic cave syndrome’. It’s like a 2021 version of Plato’s Allegory of the cave.

Loneliness is, quite simply, the mothership of mental health problems. It contains everything you need to be totally debilitated. It’s awful and yet a skill to be mastered, but unlike TAKUMI it takes more than 60,000 hours.

I have spent the last 18 months learning classical piano. I’m still nowhere, but I can read music off the sheet, understand quite a bit of music theory, knock out Für Elise and generally try to plinkety plonk my way through what takes a minimum of ten years to get anywhere good at.

My loneliness is killing me.

Loneliness is learning to play piano, whilst your fingernails are being extracted and the piano is on fire.

Coronavirus is water on a chip pan fire, its an accellerant of all of the worst fears of man.

Oh you wanted a solution? A way out of the hole? Yeah I have nothing to offer. I’m scared shitless. I’m 47. Men aged 45–49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK.

My loneliness is killing me.

My goal now is to build up relationships with good people. I got back in touch with my cycle club, asked a few girls out on platonic ‘friend’ dates (kissing optional). Its weird but building new friendships is really difficult for men and although Bumble have (sort of) opened up their algorithm to friendships, its still difficult just to find someone who enjoys Lebanese food and Renaissance art.

My loneliness is killing me.

Levels of loneliness in Great Britain have increased since spring 2020. Between 3 April and 3 May 2020, 5.0% of people (about 2.6 million adults) said that they felt lonely “often” or “always”. From October 2020 to February 2021

Also bear in mind the absolute clusterfuck that is ‘loneliness in a long-term relationship or marriage’.

Heres the rub. If you are lonely, don’t rush into a relationship. They can’t and won’t fix you, and being with them will just make your loneliness more pronounced when you are apart. Its like a rebound relationship but with your own mind. And that is the most scary and depressing aspect of it.

My loneliness is killing me.

So even the prospect of meeting a lovely person for a relationship is not going to help with the loneliness.

Anti-depressants just take the edge off. Alcohol is brilliant but will only make you feel more lonely. Its not good to drink on your own. You are just borrowing happiness. At some point you need to pay back that loan, with interest.

Ok I know I said I was not going to provide any solutions but I have a couple of cheat codes for you:

Meditation — it helps hugely with the anxiety of being lonely. Its a wonderful journey which takes practise and it so rewarding.

Join a club — it doesn’t matter which one. A book club is amazing. Cycling is amazing. Even running (eurgh) can help.

Learn something new — I’m doing piano but you could learn pottery, home brewing or even knitting.

Make a plan/make a list — this is huge. It gives you a structure and you can get so much better at this

Read books — An endless source of information, culture and learning

Expand your network — theres so many humans around you, reach out and say hi. Engage in conversation

All of these small aspects together will bring you closer to living on your own comfortably and embracing being single. Its small steps.

My loneliness is killing me.

The first step is acknowledging or admitting you feel lonely. Theres no shame in this. Welcome to the party, we got name badges.

Loneliness is normal. Its not embarrassing, its part of being human

Good luck xxxx

Design Director. Dad. Cyclist. Flâneur. Piano student. Fondue enthusiast. Hopeless romantic. Not necessarily in that order. IG/Twitter: @matvenn