I remember reading a quote from Mother Teresa many years ago. It went like this:
"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, l think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat."
That quote has always stuck with me over the years, because it's such a meaningful statement, and I can relate to it because of all the loneliness I have experienced in my life. Loneliness that has happened because of circumstance, not by choice.
I remember feeling lonely as far back as when I was a young kid growing up. Back then, I was very shy and awkward. Always unsure of myself. Always trying to fit in. I remember in school, I was always trying to get the other kids to like me. I would try to be funny, or try to act cool or say something witty. But usually, the other kids would make fun of me, or bully me. I didn't have many friends growing up. I didn't have much self-confidence or self-esteem either. And that would become a recurring theme in my adult life.
As an adult, I would become less shy, but even more lonely. I struggled with addictions and self-destructive behaviour for most of my adult life. First with alcohol, and then later with drugs. I was always trying to fill the void. Always trying to escape from all the emptiness and loneliness I felt. Trying to escape from the reality that my life had become. I was constantly trying to figure out ways to bring more people into my life. Always looking to make new friends, new connections. I desperately wanted a relationship with someone. I was looking for love, but I didn't know where to find it. I hung out in bars and hotels a lot over the years. Which in hindsight, probably wasn't a good idea. But I drank, and I didn't want to sit at home drinking by myself, so that's what I did.
As the years went by, my addictions and resulting behaviour got worse, and I found myself even more alone and lonely. Every girlfriend that I had in my life, I lost because of my drinking. In the later years, when I became addicted to drugs, no one wanted anything to do with me. I remember walking around town feeling alienated from everybody and everything. I felt I had truly hit rock bottom. This was loneliness at a whole new level. I was even considering ending my life at the time. I couldn't stand myself. I had nothing, and I felt like nothing.
But, somehow, I kept going. Fighting my battles. In and out of AA meetings, rehab treatment centres, hospitals, and jails. And eventually, I did get clean and sober for good. And I did it on my own, with prayer and pure willpower. Eighteen months now and counting, I'm happy to say.
Even though I straightened my life out in that respect, the loneliness still remains. I'm always thinking and trying different and new things. Trying to reach out. Make new connections. I pray. I try to think positive. I'm thankful I'm still alive. It would have been easy to give up on myself and my life.
Someone once told me, if you're happy and content inside, then you shouldn't get lonely. And I said, well, if I had more love and understanding in my life, then maybe I would be more happy and content. And a lot less lonely.