Bleak Places: A Form of LonelinessJul 25, 2023
There are those places, within and without, where the stark wind just slices in you in two and the featureless terrain offers very little shelter or respite. I did not know this place within me for as long as I was in active addition, it was only in the relinquishing of the chemical crutches that I sunk into this bone on bone bareness of deep loneliness. It was, no doubt, what all my addictive behaviour was trying to avoid. Once there I found myself breathless at the pain of the loneliness. Not to be confused with wholesome solitude or even with aloneness. I could very well be in company, the life and soul of the room on the outside but the loneliness had hold of me internally. The romanticisation of loneliness as solitude is tempting but again, definitely not the same thing. I very much enjoy my own company and will embark on long periods of solo time on pilgrimage or travelling with my work. Solitude has a quality of agency in it. No, this loneliness was not a choice, I cannot opt out of it, I don't return from it. It has the stripped naked desperate quality of a baby separated from mother at birth, crying for colostrum. Why would I talk about that here? Because I have met so many on my path as a death and grief doula that know exactly what I mean; they have been there and they are there; in that space beyond human connection, in the bleak space. And I wanted to offer to the world the idea that upon encountering a person in this bleak place there are no words of solace that won't reinforce that loneliness. The only way to meet them there is to sit with them, staring at the barren mountainside eyes squinting against the dust storm. Don't for a second suggest this is solitude, best to say nothing. The homeopathic same suffering of just being there without fixing, is the only remedy.