Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Loneliness #MondayMusings

A day late, I am posting a #MondayMusings post.

Monday Musings, hosted by Write Tribe, is an invitation to post your thoughts - happy, sad, philosophical. 

Yesterday, I read a blog post by a British blogger in her 70's. Her husband is seriously ill with cancer, and she is his caregiver.  She doesn't get out much, as she has physical disabilities that restrict her mobility.  She started to blog yesterday about gossip, but then the post got personal.

"And so, I don't belong in society, and all I have are virtual friends. I've just finished reading Rogue Genesis by Ceri London about the power of the mind, which even spans deep space. I like that idea... I guess loneliness is bound to happen when you retire. If you haven't amassed friends when you were younger, you're sunk if you can't get out and about."

Her post reminded me of a dream from my childhood.

In this dream, I was climbing up the stairs of an apartment building.  This in itself would not have been unusual for me - I grew up in a 14 story apartment building in New York City.  I used to climb stairs to my apartment all the time.  Most people I knew also lived in apartment buildings, either in my city housing project, or elsewhere in the city.

But my dream didn't take place in my building, or theirs.  No, it was in a strange building, and, as I climbed the stairs, I knew I lived there.

I climbed, and finally, the stairs terminated in an apartment.  My apartment.  There was no door - the staircase led right into the apartment.

It was shabby.  It was one room.  The bathroom was right in the middle of the room, exposed, no privacy.  When I saw that apartment, I was seized with emotion.  I don't know how old I was when I dreamed that dream, but I remember the feelings that dream stirred in me so well.

I felt....loneliness. Deep loneliness. I knew, in that moment, that I would end up in that apartment, one day, elderly, and without friends.  No one would care about me.  In the dream, I was healthy enough to climb stairs (I would have trouble today climbing that many stairs, as I have arthritis in one knee) but I was still lonely.

Now, I'm in my 60's.  To my younger self, I would probably be ready for an old age home by now.  Younger me, you would be so, so wrong.

I have always been introverted, and somewhat of a loner.  Many of my interactions, if not work related, are virtual.  But, I believe we need the face to face contact.  I don't plan to retire just yet, but I do hope to in the next few years.

There are ways to form friendships when you are older.  But, as Francene points out, it is hard.  Several women I know are already widows.  When, I wonder, will it be my turn? 

I think of my mother in law, who is in her late 80's.  She is a widow, her siblings are all dead and, as time passes, her friends are dying or in poor health.  I think of my spouse's 103 year old aunt.  Are any of her friends still alive?  I wonder what it is like for her, sometimes.  Is she only left with memories?

How do you fight loneliness when you grow older?

8 comments:

  1. Very thoughtful post. I will certainly visit this British lady's blog and befriend her. And as for us, whose children have grown up and flown the nest - it's best not to think too hard about how things may be later on and to dread loneliness and imagine widowhood. It may never happen and I want to tell you, as a woman who's been divorced for ten year, you learn to live with loneliness and you learn to love your own company. You can be happy under any circumstances.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am learning from my mother's mistakes and even though I am introverted and make attempts to step outside my comfort zone and try new things and in the meantime become comfortable in my own company. Because even aging isn't guaranteed

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's the trick, isn't it? Figuring out ways to get out and meet people. Have you heard of Meetup.com? It's a place where people can start groups of like-minded people to get together for whatever. Anyone can start a group. Perhaps that's an option.

    ReplyDelete
  4. As an in home care giver. I've seen people who refuse to receive help and it bring the entire family down.
    Coffee is on

    ReplyDelete
  5. I want to write. So there shouldn't be any problem with loneliness in aging--should there? A writer can lock themselves away and write in peace without having to deal with worrying problems created by their spouse. But I know when something goes terribly wrong in my life, I am left wordless--creative spirit dried up. We need to develop inner strength to overcome this last hurdle of loneliness.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Alana,
    Very thought-provoking post. I am amazed that you remember that dream so vividly. It must have made a very strong impression on you. You ladies who are older than me (not by much, mind!) are very inspirational to me, as you continue to strive, and believe, and create. Write on, ladies, about everything. You are an encouragement to the rest of us.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very poignant post - I, too, am a loner even as I am a Social Butterfly - it's being creative that keeps us active - I am hoping that I always find a way to be among people I enjoy - :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for this thoughtful post. I do hope that I'll be able to continue having rich friendships in my life as I grow older.

    ReplyDelete

Hello! I welcome comments, as long as they are civil, are on topic, and do not contain profanity, advertising of any kind or spam. Any messages not meeting these criteria will immediately be composted, and my flowers will enjoy their contents.