Loneliness can be a bitch at times, and for some people it can hit harder than for others. And regardless of how one might identify sexually, loneliness can sometimes overwhelm those within the LGBT+ community.
At least it does for me at times, though don’t know if it’s specific to me being gay.
For some, this loneliness can stem from sexual or gender identity discrimination, or even from rejection from their biological families. Though some might say these feelings of loneliness is to be expected despite our community’s supposed mandate of love and inclusiveness, and trying to ‘choose’ our families. Unfortunately not everyone can fit into the existing cliques or social circles.
I was reading an article about gay men battling loneliness and it got me thinking about my own life. A lot of the time, I feel isolated from others but this is something that comes and goes in my life depending on what’s going on at that point. One day I can feel great, loved, and on top of the world.. but the next I can be curled up in the ball staring at my phone thinking nobody even likes me enough to call.
Obviously, left unchecked this can lead to depression, anxiety, loss of confidence, and all sorts of other issues in my life.
When it’s really bad, I feel like I’m on a deserted island looking across to the mainland where everyone else is enjoying life, and I can only watch as there’s no way to get across to the others. So in others words, I’m curled up on my sofa feeling sorry for myself, watching people’s posts on Facebook or Instagram of how fabulous their lives are.
Obviously social media isn’t an accurate depiction of people’s lives, but when you don’t hear from people sometimes that’s the only way to hear about what they are up to.
Anyway, the article I was reading (link is at the bottom of the page) listed several ‘tips’ on how to overcome this loneliness. And although accurate with its advice, it was fairly generic if you ask me, with a focus on substance abuse and reaching out to a therapist.
Often people will tell me if I’m feeling lonely then I just need to get out and be around other people. Because apparently (in their mind) it’s just that easy. And for them it probably is.
What those who don’t suffer from feelings of loneliness don’t understand is that you could be standing in the middle of a crowd filled with people you know, and you’ll still feel alone. It’s like there’s a disconnect from others around you.
When we were all first coming out or realising our sexual identities, we would isolate ourselves or pull away from those around us to ensure our ‘secret’ isn’t found out. That proverbial closet prevented us from making meaningful connections with others (family included) because of how different we felt from them. This was probably an emotionally stressful period for most.
After coming out, those feelings of isolation probably went away for most people as they started to meet other people like them and build new social circles. But for others, that might have highlighted for them how they don’t fit into the groups around them. Even when those groups are comprised of other people supposedly like them with similar interests.
When I first came out, I met an amazing group of people some of which I’m still in virtual contact with now over 20 years later. We were mostly all new to being out and living in a small town, so we all came together to support each other.
But like anything in life, this only lasted for so long as people moved away, moved on, found relationships and so forth. It’s a recurring situation through life, and sometimes it’s hit me harder than others, contributing to those feelings of loneliness as I would try to move past it all to find new friends all over again. And again.
Most self-help articles advise the best thing to do is to join a social or interest group as a way to feel less lonely. And for some people this works.
For me, this was only fleeting as I tried several different outlets over the years – gay softball or bowling groups, naturist social groups, gay geeks, cinema groups, etc – but nothing truly fit me. Sure, I’d meet a few new people and start going out a bit more, but then as people broke off as they tend to do, I was still left in the same situation wondering where everyone went.
So where does that leave me? Trying to meet guys through the ‘dating’ apps or nightclubs usually leads to failure as these are more for those looking for sex and they’re focused more on physical interactions. And after all these years, I’m just so over the whole bar and club scene these days.
I try to reach out to people when I’m feeling lonely, but unfortunately that doesn’t always work out. People (in London) are generally always busy or booked up well in advance, so there’s little room for last minute plans. Or they are the type that only want to be around when things are going good, so will purposely avoid you when you’re down.
Like anything in life, this too will be a work in progress as I try to help myself. Or maybe I’ll just wear out my Netflix subscription by spending another weekend at home alone on the sofa.
Who knows. 😉