“The trouble is not that I am single and likely to stay single, but that I am lonely and likely to stay lonely.”
― Charlotte Brontë
“All great and precious things are lonely.”
This past week I've been reading a book titled Lonely: Learning to Live with Solitude by Emily White. (on the recommended shelf above). The book is incredibly well-researched and talks about the writer's own experience navigating through an extreme loneliness. She talks about loneliness as being related to but different from depression and identifies the types - emotional and social loneliness. Situational loneliness. Those moments when one experiences an 'eerie affliction of the spirit.' White also talks about how difficult it is to talk about loneliness - it's not just that there's a stigma, or that it gets confused with depression - I think that it's because we fear making those who are in our lives guilty. Not to mention that most people think that loneliness is just this passing mood, rather than a state, and sometimes one that can be prolonged.
Writers, in general, are familiar with loneliness, and embrace it to some degree. It's very often the act of writing, that saves the lonely person. White's book is mainly a book that examines the psychological and medical research surrounding loneliness, and she also interviews people through her blog. I found the comments she collected from her interviewees very interesting. She quotes 'Anne the social worker': "When I think about loneliness, I think about just feeling like I don't have intimate connections that touch on all the different aspects of myself. And it's not that I don't have intimate relationships. It's that I don't have ones that cover all of who I am."
So, this isn't a book about literary loneliness, which is something I'm interested in. But it's well worth reading even if just to wrap one's mind around the differences between loneliness and depression. It certainly got me thinking about my own abiding relationship with loneliness, which is not a deep or extreme loneliness, but a loneliness nevertheless.
Perhaps, this has nothing to do with the subject, but I've always thought it notable that the words lonely and lovely were only one letter away from each other. Which maybe says something about my relationship with loneliness.
If you know someone who struggles with loneliness, seems isolated, or if you feel so yourself, this book contains much food for thought, much insight.