I have really been struggling with loneliness lately. This isn't a new thing for me, I have battled it off and on for years, but it is a weird thing. I am content to be by myself during the days and enjoy the solitude, but once night gets here it changes from solitude to loneliness.
Loneliness versus Solitude:
One way of thinking about loneliness is as a discrepancy between one's desired and achieved levels of social interaction, while solitude is simply the lack of contact with people. Loneliness is therefore a subjective experience; if a person thinks they are lonely, then they are lonely. People can be lonely while in solitude, or in the middle of a crowd. What makes a person lonely is the fact that they want more social interaction than what is currently available. A person can be the middle of a party and feel lonely due to not talking to enough people. Conversely, one can be alone and not feel lonely; even though there is no one around that person is not lonely because there is no desire for social interaction. There have also been suggestions that each person has their own sweet spot of social interaction. If a person gets too little or too much social interaction, this could lead to feelings of loneliness or over-stimulation.
I hate the feeling of being lonely. It normally occurs after AJ has gone to bed, and as the rest of the world is starting to wind down for the evening. I check face.book and twi.tter a lot during the hours between AJ going to bed and me going to bed.
The odd part is I am not sure how much interaction I really want. I could turn the FB chat on or I could log into AIM and see who is there, but I never do. I just want some level of passive interactions - forums or reading what is going on in other people's lives. I love when my friends post blog post that late because it gives me something to read. It has also made me much more likely to comment on their blogs because I do want to be a part of their lives.
I know some of the desire for passive interaction is because I am so tired lately. I have a really limited energy supply, and I am trying to use it as best as I can. This combined with an erratic "sweet spot" for interaction (I am an introverted extrovert) makes things interesting. Some days a little interaction goes a long way and I am overwhelmed and others I can't get enough interaction.
I love weekends because this is rarely a problem then. I have AJ home and we are frequently doing things together and with other people. I also seem to have more energy on the weekends (which I haven't figured out that logic yet). The last two weekends I have had two wonderful baby showers. I was mildly worried that I was going to be overwhelmed, but I wasn't. Instead, I was left craving more social contact than I have wanted in a while. I am so thankful for the friends and family that I have. It makes me feel very loved, and that is something I crave all the time. If I could just find a way to bottle those wonderful feelings and be able to use them at night when the loneliness strikes I would be set.
I am very thankful that these rounds of loneliness haven't migrated into either the day light hours or into depression. I very rarely get lonely during the day, and I have wondered if that is because I can keep myself busy during the day or have things that get me out of the house (not that I always want to leave the house). I think having AJ come home during the earlier afternoons helps, too. In the past the loneliness has evolved into depression, and that wasn't fun. It took a lot of effort to break it, and honestly I don't have the energy to fight that kind of battle right now, so I am thankful it hasn't gotten that far.