Healthy Living

There Is A Big Difference Between Being Lonely Vs. Alone

06/01/2017 09:47am ET | Updated June 2, 2017

Before I had even been married for a year I was due with my first child. Yep, five weeks before my first wedding anniversary I was delivering my first son. I didn’t know anything about babies. I was an only child and each of my parents had passed away while I was in my twenties. Not a sob story, just fact.

So, in early September my husband and I were stuck in rush hour traffic while I hee-heed my way to the hospital. I wasn’t panicked but I was definitely anxious.

When we arrived at the hospital I was wheeled to my room and went into the restroom to change into my gown. There was a beautiful nurse standing there to help me and I said through the door, “I won’t miss these jeans, that’s for sure.” And, so sweetly, so lovingly, so tenderly, my husband said to me and the nurse, “She thinks she’s tired of them,” as if it had been such a burden on him to look at my hideous body in those horrid discount store jeans. In my head I was saying, “I thought I was having a baby but it appears that there is already one in the room. But, I was busy at that moment so I let it go.

We got pregnant much faster than we had anticipated and to say that we weren’t quite ready is an understatement. I took the pregnancy test on my birthday and went into the kitchen and told my husband the good news. He didn’t speak to me for two days. Somehow, I had managed to do this on my own.

Back to the delivery room, where we spent less than an hour. I was pretty speedy at popping out babies. It was an easy delivery, as if there is such a thing. Maybe because I made it look so easy my husband didn’t feel the enormity of the occasion: the enormity of having a small turkey come out of your private parts! I was wheeled into my room and got settled in with my new baby boy and my husband said to me, “Well, I have an 11 o’clock that I can still make.” And with that, he was gone.

I didn’t mind being alone with my baby. I loved him, and in those first few hours before real life set in it was just the two of us. I thought it would be three of us. I felt so lonely, so lonely. The only family I had was a day away so my husband was it for me. And, what first time dad would want to leave when he had a new baby boy? It just didn’t make sense to me. Being alone, no problem, but the loneliness that I felt in those first few hours of parenthood was crushing.

When I look back at that time I want to tell that young mother that what she was feeling was real, and justified and it wasn’t just in her head. That she wasn’t being needy, she was being normal. And sadly, that it would continue through the life of the marriage.

Now that about a million years have passed and I am no longer in the marriage, I know that the loneliness was real, it was not imagined or manufactured by me. That I told my husband often how lonely I was. That I was lonely when we were sitting in the same room.

Loneliness isn’t just in your head. You might feel neglected, or you might feel unappreciated, but all roads lead to loneliness. And, in my opinion, continued loneliness can lead to isolation: it creates a sadness that can’t quite be defined.

If you are spending a lot of time alone and you are happy, that’s great. But, if you are constantly around people and you are feeling lonely, take some action to figure out what you can do to climb out of that hole. It may be professional help or it may be that your marriage or relationship needs a tune up, but make the necessary changes to get you on the road to contentment.