I am lonely.
There I said it.
But is that something I should say? Is
saying it something like bringing it into being, or is saying it the
start of a diagnosis, a naming that leads to fixing?
I have often wondered how to write
about loneliness without soliciting intervention. In a sense it's no
problem at all because real loneliness would be to write and hear no
response, no come back, no authorship, nothing. And yet isn't writing
just that, just this empty greyness that opens up
without end – onwards and onwards it stretches like a long and
hopeless dirt track never reaching, never twisting enough to make he
journey anything other than an inbetween, a kind of noplace.
The emptiness of writing is there,
though, is connected to something more, something quite pressing and
urgent, something so large, so heavy that it feels as if it'll crush
me. I am talking about my own profound loneliness, my own profound
hostility to myself.
I have for some time been withdrawing,
moving away from the role of the bon viveur, the host who
laughs and jokes, offers food and makes merry. And I'm not sure why.
Friendships are as tight and meaningful as ever, and work, although
deeply frustrating, is as rewarding in its own way as ever.
What has changed, I think, is my body:
I have for some time been struggling with extraordinarily low levels
of energy, finding it hard to move, to sleep, to think, to
concentrate on the simplest task. I am breathless, sore, tetchy and
irritable. I find company difficult, and I am constantly on the edge
of a mild but pervasive depression that will never quite leave, but
never quite arrive.
Today I am working from home. And I
can't help wonder if this has something to do with it: perhaps it is
a problem that has been building for some time, but work is becoming
increasingly complex and debilitating. I am haunted by a sense of
radical detachment from myself and from my work (I have always been
one of those who invests too much in that relationship). Colleagues
are wonderful, professional and kind and always seem pleased to talk
or to share or just to be around me (and I love them dearly), so why
do I feel so lonely?
When I think about other lives, other
people's ghastly situations, abject poverty, danger, starvation, or
even deep deep unhappiness, I wonder how I dare even speak of my
It is shameful.
And yet it is there. Some of my friends
struggle with this every day of their lives – depression, illness –
and I have always admired their ability to find ways of coping, find
strategies for continuing to operate extraordinarily effectively.
I, on the other hand, seem singularly
ill-equipped to deal with the slightest change in my body. It's as if
I have become its slave. It despises me an torments me. It intervenes
in ways that make even the slightest simple daily operation (chairing
a meeting for example) almost impossible.
It hates me and I am lonely. The two things are one and there is no way out.
There I said it, but should I have?
Yet there is a kind of poetics of
loneliness that I can't help being drawn to.
The poetics of despair, not the poetics
of self-pity, is highly attractive to me and has drawn me to some
dark and dangerous places. I love to tarry here and to touch the
edge, to feel the space beyond – all empty, without light or heat
It draws me to it, thrills me.
Perhaps there is something in me that
takes pleasure from this despair, attaches myself to it as to the
Real. It sticks into my body, stops me from assimilating effectively
to the rhythm of the machine, holds me above the blandness of total
symbolisation (and thus annihilation).
It might be that for me to live as one
lonely is to live as one who is not a slave. Slavery to the Real
might be my only place from which to rail against the machine.
At he moment, being caught here in this
predicament between machine and Real, between rhythm and mass is as
There I said it: I enjoy my loneliness.
It is my dark sibling that keeps me awake and makes me bristle and
hurts me and tuns me around, but who will never allow me to slip away
I have said it, but should I have said it?