THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING
to make me feel unwanted!
PREVIOUS: Adult Loneliness (Part 1)
SITE: “The Web of Loneliness”
1. ACoA Loneliness (previous post)
2. DEFENSES against L.
Most ACoAs are not conscious of being intensely Lonely, or when we do feel it, usually assume it’s about missing someone – SO we are not aware of how many of our ‘character defects’, actions & no-actions are related to defending against this deep & pervasive emotion. ADD your own to the lists below.
Studies on the biological effects of Loneliness by John Cacioppo, a University of Chicago social psychologist, show that :
▶ Much like the threat of physical pain, loneliness protects our social body. It lets us know when social connections start to fray, and causes the brain to go on alert to look for social threats. Being lonely can produce a range of coping mechanisms, from emotional over-reactions to negative behaviors. Since many lonely people see those extremes as undesirable they withdraw more, & fall even deeper into loneliness. Loneliness doesn’t just make people feel unhappy, it actually makes them feel unsafe — mentally and physically.
MISCONCEPTIONs re. Loneliness
• ‘I’m the only one who feels this way’. Unfortunately all the other very lonely people in the world think the same thing – but they (& you) are probably either covering it up or hiding out, so they never meet you OR don’t know how you’re really feeling when they do
• ‘There’s something wrong with me if I’m lonely – a sign of weakness, immaturity, a defect in my personality’. Of course this is S-H. If we are chronically L. then we have unhealed damage, but we are NOT defective!
a. COVERING UP the L. (passive)
• bad relationships, we get stuck & can’t leave – even when we’re unhappy or scared, believe we can’t bear to be on our own, feeling that anything / anyone is better than nothing
• depression, feeling sorry for ourselves, re. loss of support & loved ones, but doing nothing, or not enough to relieve it
• fantasy – only living in our head, day-dreaming about people, place & things we wish we had
• illnesses (real), such as hardening of the arteries, inflammation, problems with memory & learning…. as well as immune diseases (see study above) OR being a hypochondriac (not physically real), trying unconsciously to get attention & ‘nurturing’ from doctors & caretakers
• isolation, from fear that we’ll be hurt more; because never learned how to talk or act comfortably; from S-H, guilt & shame, assuming rejection is inevitable
• obsessing – who we wish we were with, what we’ll do some day, what we did wrong, what we should have said, what they think of us ….
• paranoia (“I’m the center of all attention”). The fact that it’s bad attention is painful, but we feel it’s better than none at all!
• procrastination – putting off taking care of ourselves as a way to not feel how alone we are, internally (the WIC who always feels abandoned because of its attachment to PP)
• religiosity / ‘spirituality’ – being “so heavenly minded you’re no earthy good”, or being overly zealous about our beliefs
• sleeping (often more than 8 hrs, & not from a severe illness or change in medication) – associated with depression & as an escape
b. ACTING OUT the L. (Active)
• addictions – this is obvious, & now includes spending too much time on the internet, even if it’s in social media – instead of face-to-face
• always angry – anger gives us an illusion of being in control, even if it’s not real, so it feels better to be angry (that no one loves us) than to feel the vulnerability of loneliness
• controlling – ‘if I can make everything & everyone be the way I want, I’ll be OK & then not L. & scared’
• fighting – any contact is better than none
• grandiosity – pump ourselves up to cover the S-H & unworthiness that leads to inner loneliness, making ourselves more important than we really feel
• over-doing – running, running (even if it’s ‘all good’ stuff) the idea being to never have a minute to FEEL
• suicide attempts, because we can’t stand the pain & don’t know how to heal it OR too scared to try things that are available to help us
• talking too much, not just to fill the emptiness, but after stretches of isolation, when we finally get someone to talk to – a backlog of thoughts & feelings rush out
• touchy – easily hurt as if any ‘slight’ is a personal rejection, taking things personally & lashing out, making it harder to connect with others – even tho we want to be
NEXT: Loneliness in Recovery (Part 1)