Can A Popular Person Be Lonely?

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge today is POPULAR

This brings to mind a conversation I had twenty-some years ago: three other women and myself were having coffee together and in the course of conversation I mentioned that I was never part of the “in-crowd.” One by one all three of my friends responded with, “I never was, either.”

This was a shocker. I always was an odd kid, raised apart from my birth family, ridiculed by my foster dad and made fun of by my peers. I became a loner — but surely these three were exactly the types to be leading an in-crowd!

Lise, a French-Canadian nurse, wife of the town vet and mom to three, was as lively and friendly as they come. Same with Diane, also a nurse, the wife of a school teacher and mother of a son and twin girls. They could visit with anybody. Ruth, the United Church Minister’s wife, university-educated, outgoing, cheerful, also sharing her thoughts freely. I loved visiting with each of them and could imagine they’d have been the most popular girls in any school.

If these girls weren’t part of “the in-crowd,” who was?

Take comfort, those of you who aren’t so popular at school. Teens who are not part of the in-crowd can still become friendly, moxie people with active minds, maybe even more caring and sharing than those who agonize about fitting in.

Yesterday Pastor J S Park posted a great article: “LONELINESS, The Unnamed Pain.” He’s given me permission to reblog it, but for some reason that isn’t working as it should, so I’ll copy and paste. If you struggle with loneliness this is a must-read. And he says yes, you can be lonely surrounded by other people.

LET’S TALK ABOUT LONELINESS”

I’m not a therapist or doctor, but as a hospital chaplain, I’ve seen the terrible and awful effects of loneliness on mental health. The problem is that it’s tough to admit, almost embarrassing to say, “I’m hurting from loneliness.”

Loneliness is a double-bind in that in order to find comfort, it requires reaching out to people or for people to be near. But some of us have been alone so long, it’s unthinkable that we can connect with another human without risking rejection—which fuels more loneliness.

“WHY DON’T YOU JUST MAKE FRIENDS?”

The unhelpful reply I hear to “I’m lonely” is “Why don’t you just make friends?” But that’s like saying, “Why don’t you just get rich?” or “Why can’t you just go to the gym?” We’re already in deficit, a lap behind, because we fear connection in proportion to how alone we feel.

It’s difficult to make friends and keep them. It’s hard to have real friendships that are not just functional transactions. Even when someone is surrounded by crowds or well connected, they may be the loneliest people on earth, because all their “friends” are transactional.

“THE OPPOSITE OF LONELINESS IS COURAGE”

I don’t know the answer to loneliness. But I know what the answer is not: We can’t just snap out of it. We can’t just cure it with a party, a bar, a church, a dating app. It requires intentional investment and yes, the risk of rejection. The opposite of loneliness is courage. It takes courage to reach out, to enter each other’s orbit, to risk trust, and to be alone in our thoughts and fears.

Friends, this week may be lonely. This season can be brutal. They can remind you of all that’s missing. As trite as it sounds: You may feel lonely, but you are not alone. May you find the courage to reach out, to enter the possibilities of love in all its heaven and heartache.

Flourish.plainer
Many thanks to Pastor Park for allowing me to share his encouraging article.

 

Great Things To Come

I few days ago I wrote an article about mental health issues. More humane care has been provided and sufferers have been treated in various ways through the 1900s, with questionable success. Writer/poet/blogger Frank Prem, in his younger days, worked at an Australian asylum and has written a number of poems to capture the lives and feelings of the afflicted.

Now he’s excited to be launching his compilation of these poems. He says The New Asylum should be live on Amazon November 1st and you can pre-order it now. In mid-November he’s doing a local book launch — here are the details — and here’s the book cover:

The New Asylum: a memoir of psychiatry (Poetry Memoir Book 3) by [Prem, Frank]

His other poetry books, SMALL TOWN KID and DEVIL IN THE WIND, have gotten great reviews. You can read my review of this second book HERE.

Devil In The Wind: Voices from the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires (Poetry Anthology Book 2) by [Prem, Frank]

Life In A Dark Bubble

Yesterday’s Word of the Day prompt was BUBBLE. I’m coming in rather late here, but this is my response.

paranoia
life in a dark bubble
everybody hates me

mind-767584_640
Image by Gerd Altmann

Not long before this prompt came up, I’d an account I wrote some years ago about a woman I met on a trip we took. She likely would have been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic — if she’d ever sought medical help. It sounds like her doctors had suggested mental illness, but why should she listen to doctors when they’ve all been ordered by the government to destroy people like her? Another man friend tried drugs, but hated the side effects.

I’ve visited with several afflicted ones over the years, enough to give me some picture of what their world must be like. I know there’s a wide range of symptoms and reactions to treatment, but here’s my non-medical insight, for what it’s worth.

“When I was in the hospital,” this woman explained to me, her eyes shining, “they did experiments on me. They poison a person with mercury. The mercury slowly comes out of you through your skin, you know; I see little silver drops on my carpet all the time.”

What could I say? You’re imagining this? But she wasn’t. She actually saw these drops. Just as someone else saw an upside-down cross on a hospital curtain one night — a sure omen of evil to come. Who can understand why or how the mind perceives silver drops, or beetles on all the plants, or people pulling their hair in the night? For the sufferer, the only “logical” explanation is that someone is trying to drive them mad. Once mad, they’ll be taken to the psych ward and quietly disposed of.

“There are two kinds of people in this world,” another fearful person told me years ago. “Those who wish I was dead, and those who think I already am.”

“Most of the people in this world don’t even know you exist,” I replied. However, that’s reality, and reality usually doesn’t cut through such fear. I wasted my breath.

Many, many times people trying to help a person through their hallucinations waste their breath trying to explain that, “No, it isn’t what you imagine. You still have all your hair; no one has pulled it out.”

I’ve learned that my rational explanations will never combat paranoia; they just can’t pierce that bubble of fear. The afflicted, be they on welfare, members of ethnic minorities, Christians, or whatever else makes them unique, see themselves as slated for destruction — and no one recognizes the danger they’re in. If you don’t agree, if you won’t see how the government is out to destroy people like them, you are either burying your head in the sand or you’re delusional.

Sadly, some misguided religious people see all mental illness as “demonic” and their answer is some type of exorcism. This is usually a double whammy for the sufferers. Not only are they NOT cured by this ritual, plus now they live with the guilt of being possessed by evil spirits, and/or the thought that God must have given up on them, too.

From what I’ve observed, medication has had limited success in treating this type of mental illness. Some works great — for a time. There is some healing in the aging process. I once read that schizophrenia loses some of its grip on a person’s mind after age fifty. The problem is the dangerous situations they tend to live in, often being homeless and isolating themselves.

Another friend of mine who has suffered from fears very much through the years became a Christian in her twenties and the words that help her the most are the scriptures about God looking after his own. He does see, He does care, and He has looked after her amazingly well in her circumstances. When she calls me, greatly distressed because something suspicious happened, or someone said something threatening, we talk about the day when the trials of this life will be behind us and we’ll live in Heaven, safe from evil, free from care. Focusing on that better place makes the troubles of this world more bearable.

Visiting the Home in Haiku

Visiting Grandma at the Nursing Home

I don’t remember, either
I told her
companionably

We play Yahtzee
even though she can’t read the dice
she can shake

holding Grandma’s hands
I should let go — but
her fingers are so cold

“Flower Garden” quilt
walking the winding trails
of her memory

I never told her
it rained last night
Grandma’s somewhere else

She tells me
Prince Charles visited today
bladder infection*

in the twilight
she folds her tired hands
one last time

* She really did. Bladder infection tends to cause nursing home residents to “lose it” temporarily. 😦

Summer Verse

Image by Jill Wellington — Pixabay

SUMMER

by Edgar Guest

Bees are in the blossoms,
birds are on the wing,
roses climb, and summertime
is kissing every thing.
Little pansy faces
wink and smile at me,
and far and near there’s not a tear
that human eye can see.

There’s beauty in the garden,
there’s beauty in the sky,
the stately phlox and hollyhocks
have put their sorrows by.
The gentle breath of summer
has blown the cares away;
all nature sings, for morning brings
another lovely day.

Yet some are blind to beauty
and some are deaf to song;
the troubled brow is heard to vow
that all the world is wrong.
And some display their sorrow,
and some bewail their woe
and some men sigh that love must die
and summertime must go.

From the book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

I Saw Myself

I haven’t done any writing prompts for awhile, but when I read this one — Prosery #2 at dverse poets — it connected in my mind with one character in a story I just finished, and also called to mind a real-life situation I once observed. Sadly, some people just can’t be loved out of their bitterness.

So I’m going to try working “I dreamt I was the moon” into a 144-word story.

I Saw Myself

I saw myself as the sun, drawing you into the light. I dreamt I was the moon, touching your emotions, awakening your desire to love. I imagined myself your guiding star toward a richer life.

I believed all your excuses, furious with those who’d wronged you. But instead of drawing you into the sunshine I was sucked into your gloom, not understanding how impenetrable — how willful — your darkness.

Hooked on you, I gave and gave…until our relationship broke me and I became just another burnt-out star in your black hole. I never foresaw the pain, the frustration…or that you’d leave so much darkness in me.

My father says, “Good thing he’s finally gone.” My mother sighs. “Now maybe you can start enjoying life.”

But I’ve been in the darkness for so long; it may take ages for my light to brighten again.