Of Being Alone and Loneliness: One is Not The Other

My grandma came to visit me on Saturday for the first time since I got divorced. I’d visited my family in Pennsylvania a few times, but it was her first time seeing my new place (she was quite skeptical about me moving). My grandma worries about me a lot. She doesn’t like where I work (I’m the only slice of white bread in the loaf). She thinks I meet too many people from the Internet (she worries that one of you will kidnap me and put me in a window-less van, and sadly, with some of you, she’s probably right). She’s lectured me about texting while driving more times than I can count (thanks a lot, Brian Williams) and she doesn’t even KNOW that I text while driving.

On the way home, my grandma remarked sadly to my mom, “She must be so lonely.” My mom told her that I’m no more lonely than I was when I was married. My grandma did agree that I seemed happier and that my place was nice (success!).

The truth is, I was way more lonely when I was married. There’s nothing more isolating than living with someone who barely acknowledges your existence. It’s enough to make you not want to come home at all. And sometimes, I would delay coming home by going to the mall or out to eat because that was easier than facing my problems head on. I was less lonely sitting in a restaurant by myself, reading a book than I was at home with the person I married.

I have a lot of friends (something else that baffles my grandma – does she not think I’m a likable person?) and I know that I could always find something to do with someone if I wanted to. I’ve always been an independent person, even as a child. I didn’t need someone to play with to have fun. I used to make up stories about my toys and record them on my tape player, then make people listen to them. I’m sure that was a real delight for all involved. Maybe because I’m an only child, I’ve just grown accustomed to finding ways to entertain myself?

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I wish I was living with someone else. But those times are few and far between, like when I see a spider or other creepy crawly on the wall or when I need a jar of spaghetti sauce opened. For the record, I usually leave the spiders alone and I can open jars of spaghetti sauce, but it takes a lot of effort and screaming “YOU MOTHERFUCKER” at the jar. Whatever works, right?

Mostly, I just wish that people would understand that being alone does not mean being lonely. I’ve been lonely in a crowded room before. To me, being lonely is about feeling isolated and marginalized. Sitting alone on my bed in the evenings, I feel happy and free because I’m doing what I want with my life. I know that there are people out there who care about me. And really, that’s all that matters.

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11 Responses to “Of Being Alone and Loneliness: One is Not The Other”

  1. David Ray Perro says:

    We do love & care about you Bitchy Librarian – never forget that. Thanks for sharing!

    Also, when you’re texting while you drive, do you sing “Breaking The Law” like I do? Just curious (maybe it’s not illegal where you live).

    • Bitchy Librarian says:

      Thanks! :)

      Hahaha, it’s only illegal in certain cities where I am, not statewide…yet.

  2. SaturNine says:

    Lonely? Don’t be silly, we carry our friends in this foldy box with the blinky lights. :)

  3. John says:

    The difference between “being alone” and “loneliness” is a huge one (and now I have Billy Joel running through my head….”and they shared a drink they called loneliness, but it’s better than drinking alone”).

    I long for “alone,” more than I care to admit . . . but I never, ever want to be lonely. Yet, well, as you well know, being around someone, or even in a group of people, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not lonely.

    And I’m truly, truly glad that you’re in a place in your life that, while you may be alone from time to time, you’re never lonely unless you actually want to be.

    • Bitchy Librarian says:

      Hahaha. Oh, Billy Joel. I think a lot of it was her projecting her own loneliness on me. My grandpa died in October and I’m sure she is only. They were married for like 60 years. So it’s been quite a shock for her.

      Exactly. No one ever wants to be lonely. It’s an awful feeling. I feel lonely when I don’t feel appreciated or understood or acknowledged. That can happen any time, anywhere.

      Aww, thank you John. :)

  4. Lou Lange says:

    You and everyone else around you is making adjustments. I’m sure your grandmother will be more comfortable with where you live etc. You are doing your thing…that’s all that counts right now.

    • Bitchy Librarian says:

      Well, she will never like where I work, but oh well. :)

      All that matters to me is that I’m happy. And I am.

  5. Troy Freund says:

    That’s a nice blog post there. Having recently gone through a divorce too, I can understand much of what you’re describing. Best of luck to you, Ms., in this next chapter of your life. Sounds like you’ve got the right attitude to it.

    • Bitchy Librarian says:

      Thanks! I haven’t felt this good about myself ever, so it’s such a refreshing feeling. I hope you’re feeling the same thing.

  6. S says:

    The New Yorker had a piece recently about people who live alone because more people are living alone than ever before. One theory is the “cult of the individual”. We’ve been taught to go after what we personally want and societal advances lead us to living alone because we can do what we want!