The Loneliness No One Talks About
Confessing you are lonely is a scary admission to make because it feels as though it’s one that is laced with social stigma.
You feel as though the moment those heavy words escape your mouth, you’re automatically viewed with pity.
Well here goes.
I am lonely.
It seems like an odd thing to say in many ways. I’m a stay at home mum (SAHM) to an 11 month old baby boy. How could I be lonely? I spend practically all day with him. It’s surely an impossibility right?
I’ve always been very comfortable on my own. I’ve been a freelance writer for so many years that working by myself has become my preferred mode. I’ve always had a small circle of friends and an amazing family and I never really needed anything else. Of course, I’ve felt lonely from time to time, I think we all can. But oddly it wasn’t until I became a mum that I started to feel truly lonely.
It’s the strangest admission, but here goes…
I’m lonelier now as a mum, then I ever was before.
Before it wouldn’t have bothered me to be at home working by myself, hitting deadlines with my head in my laptop all day and not coming up for air until it became dark. I might not have ventured out of the house that day, or talked to another human being in the flesh, yet I would feel so fulfilled that the thoughts of being lonely wouldn’t even cross my mind.
So what’s changed?
My entire life has changed since I became a mum last December. I’m now a SAHM who tries to fit in some work from home when the baby naps and on weekends and evenings. Add to that, I now spend most of every day with my baby boy and while I love him with every cell in my body, there’s something lonely about being with him at the same time. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it for months.
When babies are born, I think many women find it lonely, simply from a practical point of view; you’re caring for a tiny, fragile newborn around the clock and getting out of the house can be a challenge. You sometimes feel isolated. Your friends may not be mothers and they might not understand this change in your life. That too can be detaching. And as gorgeous as newborn babies are, there isn’t much interaction from them and that too can be lonely.
But now that my son is older and much more active I thought I’d feel less lonely. Don’t get me wrong, we laugh and play all day. I chat away to him and he jabbers back. We read books, go on outings, play with Lego, bring our dog Lily for a walk, visit Granny and Grandad, go to toddler group and fill our days with activities… yet I still feel desperately lonely at times.
So why am I still lonely? Am I not fulfilled? Am I still mourning my old life and self? Am I just not a natural mum? Am I doing something wrong? Am I still failing to get to grips with this massive shift in my life?
It could be all of those things, or it could be none of them. Either way it’s made me wonder about other SAHM’s. Do they feel the same way? Did my own mum feel like this, did my grandmother or her mother? Has this always been the way? Is it an almost mass secret amongst us that no-one wants to talk about?
I think it's about time we did start talking about it. I think it’s okay to admit you sometimes feel alone. Let's remove the stigma and pity attached to it.
I’m grateful though that I live in a time where the online world is so easily accessible. It’s not a complete substitute for personal friendships, but I also know that online forums, pages, communities and blogs have helped me to feel less alone as I navigate my way through motherhood.