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  • Andy Salkeld

Being left alone with loneliness…

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

Feeling alone in a room full of people is a terrifying experience.

Recently I have had a lot of people talk to be about loneliness. This encouraged me to look back on conversations and thoughts I had during 2017 when I was at my most recently memorable lowest point.

Through pain we find ourselves…

Whilst I was having a tattoo done during the middle of the 2018 my artist and friend, Bob, introduced me to a term called serial monogamist which I had never heard before.

This really struck home with me as it is largely how I have led my life…

  1. 4 years

  2. <period of self destructive behaviour>

  3. 11 years

  4. <almost a period of self destructive behaviour>

What I realised was that I never took the time to be alone. I have never spent a prolonged period of time by myself and getting to know what my own company is like and getting to know who I really am.

Due to my mental health, my maturity and just general change in approach to life, I really did not want to return to another period of self destructive behaviour. I could see the signs of it starting and I needed to…I wanted to…avoid it at all costs.

So I have forced myself to be alone and to spend time with me.

This is one of the hardest decisions I have made and one of the hardest things I am living with but it is important for me to do this for myself.

Here is a little story about where my struggles with loneliness come from, some of the problems loneliness can lead to and how I battle with it on a daily basis.


Many of you know I have two brothers. What many of you don’t know is I have a late sister. We lost her very early on when I was very young. I was excited to have a younger sister at the time. Good parenting taught me that! Unfortunately when we lost her, nothing helped me really recover.

This was the first time I was left…

As I was growing up both my parents worked away a lot. They were working hard to care and provide for our family. Credit to them, they did a fantastic job raising three healthy children and providing for them throughout their lives.

Sadly for me, I was old enough to remember being left alone with nannies, relatives, friends and others. I couldn’t complain at the time, my parents showered us all with gifts and presents whilst they were around (note: this is also probably why I really dislike the receiving the gifts and really like the spending of quality time in my 5 love languages). In hindsight, I would much prefer them being present during those formative years as I know it has impacted my life.

This was the second time I was left…

I know that I have always sought acceptance from my family, particularly my dad. I have always wanted to be able to spend and share time with him, even though we don’t share the same interested. I couldn’t stand going to football matches whilst growing up so I focused on the only way I knew to stand out, but performing well at school and then trying to build a career that emulated his to the best of my ability.

I pushed myself in ways I never really wanted to and that contradicted what I loved in life. I was seeking his acceptance in any way possible to not feel that abandonment…that loneliness that I felt when I was younger.

I got close.

But close never seemed to be close enough.

So I kept trying.

When I was dating my first girlfriend I realised that the love, affection, attention and connection that I sought from my family relationships could be matched by a relationship with someone else I began to shift the emphasis towards that.

This wasn’t healthy.

Replacing one source of “addiction” with another still leaves you with the underlying problem. My addiction was to “not being alone” and to “be accepted and wanted”.

I didn’t care about who I was. I was already willing to sacrifice my personality and ideals to try to get closer to my family, so I was more than willing to change and shift as needed to maintain happiness with my girlfriend.

When that ended, I was back to craving acceptance again and not wanting to be alone; but now I was at university, away from my family and was on my own. This is why a period of self destructive behaviour happened. It was fun at the time, but it wasn’t healthy and caused me a lot of problems when I was ready to move beyond it.

Luckily, I had friends who helped me through it…one of whom I then ended up dating and marrying (…and now divorcing *sigh*). The rest is mostly well documented, but if you have questions, do feel free to ask.

Alone in the dark…

I have heard countless friends, colleagues and people say something along the lines of the following;

“I’m unhappy in this relationship but I’d be more unhappy if I was alone”

Similarly I’ve heard people say things akin to;

“Being single must be so lonely, I feel sorry for you”

This is partly due to the way society has grown over the years. Being in a “couple” is thought to be the base state of society as it was necessary throughout the decades and centuries previous to be able to have children etc. We were all born by a couple (our parents, whether they are still together or not) so surely it makes sense for us to try to form couples.

Similarly it is also a part of human nature. We as a species can build emotional ties and bonds to one another, so surely we should want to?

Well, sadly, not all humans are nice people. Not all humans share our beliefs. Not all humans care about the same things. Not all humans are “compatible” with one another.

As such, sometime you end up in a relationship based on something that was superficial…

This often happens when we are younger. We are fuelled by hormones and end up relationships based on lust, passion and looks. These are not bad things for a relationship and are necessary for any relationship to succeed, but these fade with time. We get older and life takes over. You can then end up in a relationship where you feel almost compelled to stay together because of the time invested so far. I know for Deborah and I this was discussed many times.

Worse yet, you could be in an “abusive” relationship. This could be physical or this could be mental abuse (gaslighting as an example). The person you are with could be sociopathic, maybe even psychopathic (…or even osteopathic?! – I never said I wouldn’t make niche inside jokes). Because of the fear of the unknown and the fear of being alone, we continue in those relationships regardless of the pain and suffering we endure.

This is not healthy in any respect.

As I said in my first major article and my recent talks, one of my close friends told me that the longest relationship I would ever have would be with myself, so I best spend the time getting to know me and being comfortable being around me.

This is all about confidence.

Confidence in yourself. Confidence in your ability to keep going. Confidence in your own happiness. Confidence in your own skin.

If you have confidence in yourself you don’t need the acceptance of others.

Be your best self to yourself…

Ted “Theodore” Logan from the Wyld Stallyns built a society based on the ethos of “Be excellent to one another”.

Keanu Reeves isn’t a hero of mine or anything like that, but I saw what I guess you would refer to as a motivational poster about him that stated;

“Someone told me the other day that he felt bad for single people because they feel lonely all the time. I told him that’s not true, I’m single and I don’t feel lonely. I take myself out to eat, I buy myself clothes. I have great times by myself. Once you know how to take care of yourself, company becomes an options and not a necessity.” – Keanu Reeves

I have no idea how valid or true this statement is, but it really doesn’t matter. The sentiment is what matters.

I have only started doing this recently. The previous year or two have been a bit of a blur dealing with the raw emotion. I have talked previously about accepting myself, being who I want to be and going from there. This is the start of knowing how to take care of yourself. It is something I am still working on.

I have started saying no to things I don’t want to do.

I have started spending time with people who I want to spend time with.

I am talking honestly and openly in a way I never have before.

I do things I want to do.

This is helping me both with my mental health but also with my general happiness, with my loneliness and with not craving that acceptance I have yearned for for so long. I am reaching a stage of comfort in myself. It isn’t where I thought it would be, but that doesn’t matter.

So how do I deal with loneliness…

I talk to people. I text people. I go for a walk. I see the world. I do what I want.

You may be by yourself but you are never alone…

If you ever need help with loneliness or need someone to talk to, please do feel free to reach out on one of the many social media platforms I am on.

Thank you

Andrew Salkeld

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