Being in company, being in Whatsapp groups and not being understood gives me the most overwhelming sensation of loneliness. It’s the one thing that makes me deeply sad.
When I was very young I could not use my voice. If I were to psychoanalyse myself for a moment, perhaps it began at montessori school where I got bullied for the first time.
To describe this time in my life I need to use childish words. All I can remember is being sat in a circle every day at school and this girl with a really mean face would sit across from me and make faces at me. Stick her tongue out at me. Outside of circle time she would shove me around when teachers weren’t looking. I have no good memory of montessori school. This bully is my only memory of those hours spent every day. It was as though she were the only person in the room and I couldn’t see the others for fear I would falter on self protection and keeping myself upright when she came to push me around.
I remember on my first day of primary school Mum was really careful to sit me beside two girls she recognised from my montessori school. Orla and Aisling. Two of the sweetest, most self content girls I ever came across. To me they seemed like wise old owls and I berated myself for not having noticed them before. I was angry at the girl who bullied me for robbing me of the opportunity to feel safe and make friends.
And so here I was, sat between Orla and Aisling, shy as a mute toned button, feeling exceptionally anxious and present because living completely in the present is important when you’re on high bully alert all the time. I didn’t know what to do. The social skills I assume I was meant to have started learning at montesorri school weren’t there. I felt a bundle of scared emotion but also yearning. Yearning to be liked. Yearning to be approved of. Yearning for FUN! When you’re a child, reasoning is a lot more basic. Clearly the way I was, the way I behaved, the way I looked meant that the bully didn’t like me. And her actions left scars. Scars bio oil would never clear up. In an effort to limit any scarring thereafter, I made a huge effort to do, say and behave in a way that made others happy. This was my defence mechanism and it sort of began to stick. I hated my actions and words displeasing people so much that I would do my utmost to alter words and behaviour, sacrificing my own needs constantly. The person in my company had to be more comfortable, happier, more satisfied. Still to this day I sit on the edge of my sit when in company ready to jump to their every need. I hate that about myself. Not because I don’t like looking after people because I do, but because for those family and friends who really fucking care about me, they see it and they’d rather I relax.
Growing up frighteningly sensitive and penetrating the feelings of others through your heart and mind continually, as well as your own is exhausting.
My coping mechanism to be kind and thoughtful and my authentic self became blurred. I’ve always been well intentioned, my love language is action and I’ve always loved to show people love through doing. Whether that was baking for my family, cooking the dinner to give my Mum a break, doing more violin practice because I knew it meant a lot to my Mum - those were all things I wanted to do. But perhaps I did more frequently and with more gusto because I was scared. Disappointment often sits in the receiving end.
School years went by and the older I got the more a righteous character came to the foreground. Mum would come out of parent teacher meetings saying “seemingly, you’re always standing up for people.” I didn’t really know what that meant at the time. But what I did know was that either through luck or my own actions I was not being bullied. I sensed the vulnerability in my teachers, I was fine tuned to sensitive people, I learnt to humour the stricter teachers, I did what was asked of me, I put my hand up, I whispered answers in my best friend’s ear, I began to feel happiness and that I was fitting in.
Then, Mum got cancer, had a breast removed and I saw her scarring. She wore it with such strength and pride. Pride in her body.
The act of making people happy and laugh had its limits. Mum spent many a nighttime hour with me analysing situations of the day just gone and buffering out any feelings of self doubt. So much of my self-esteem was based on her love and encouragement.
And now, an adult, I’ve had more run ins with bullies but rather than to drain my resources I’ve turned to social isolation as a means of coping.
Being in company, being in whatsapp groups and not being understood gives me the most overwhelming sensation of loneliness. It’s the one thing that makes me deeply sad.
When you google -
“How do loneliness and social isolation differ?” Here is what comes up.
"Loneliness is a subjective feeling about the gap between a person’s desired levels of social contact and their actual level of social contact. It refers to the perceived quality of the person’s relationships. Loneliness is never desired and lessening these feelings can take a long time.
Social isolation is an objective measure of the number of contacts that people have. It is about the quantity and not quality of relationships. People may choose to have a small number of contacts.
When they feel socially isolated, this can be overcome relatively quickly by increasing the number of people they are in contact with."
And when you google -
“Why do people become socially isolated?” Here’s what comes up.
"A person may be experiencing social isolation if they: Avoid social interaction due to shame or depression. Spend extended periods of time alone. Experience social anxiety or fears of abandonment at the idea of social interaction."
This is me - Experience social anxiety or fears of abandonment at the idea of social interaction.
Anyone else feel the same way?
To be isolated for me actually means to be safe. It makes me feel strong.
The word isolated comes from the Latin word insula, which means island. I like the word island.
“Isolation can increase the risks of mental health issues such as depression, dementia, social anxiety, and low self-esteem. Isolation and mental health issues can also interact with one another in a feedback loop.”
And though true, for me it is unfair to suggest that isolation can only be negative for one’s mental health. Governments, corporates, all exult that society at large works well when we unite and come together. I’m not convinced and haven’t been for quite some time. Isolation is my rejuvenation and I have always been grateful for the isolative periods in my life. Without them, I would have been an anxious wreck!
And so here’s using my voice -
Living in the countryside of Sussex has given me the opportunity again to roam through fields of sheep and cattle. With Britain now limited to outdoor exercise just once a day it fills me with great great happiness to see animals roaming free. To see them almost with the upper hand.
I am not a vegetarian and I don’t think I ever will be. But it has always mattered to me where I get my meat from. It always matters to me that I get my meat local and it always matters to me that these animals have been fed organically unless unsafe to do so and that they are genuinely free range.
I hope that once the dust settles on covid-19 more people think about animal welfare.
It’s lambing season down here now. My Mum used to keep lambs as a little girl for pocket money.
I see little difference between picking and eating plant life than I do picking and eating animal life. I’ve always felt for the feelings of plants having grown up in a plant nursery. But I completely understand people feeling more similarities with animals due to the fact that they have eyes and a heart similar to our own making it harder to kill them for food.
Picking and eating both can be done kindly. We can treat our animals and plants with respect.
Amongst all the changes this time in our lives is about to instigate, I hope animal welfare is on everyone’s list.