The Pitfall of "I'm Fine"

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way
— Leo Tolstoy

No one talks about loneliness, but we all know what it feels like. Talking about feeling alone doesn’t exactly fall into conversations very naturally. I can’t imagine how people would react if they asked me “How’s it going, Cat?” and I responded with “I’m lonely.” vs “I’m fine, thanks.” I’m not encouraging awkward social situations by saying you should go around telling your coworkers when you’re feeling lonely. I just think that it’s more valuable to explore feelings of loneliness and figure out what they mean to you versus pretending that you’re okay. Feeling lonely is inevitable and it happens to everyone. I choose to embrace it so that I can move past it sooner rather than later. Recently, I had one of those weeks where I felt lonely, uninspired, and just all around low. So I decided to let myself feel loneliness, notice what I was thinking about, and how I reacted to things while I felt this way. Don't get me wrong, I am not perfect at this by any means and I’m sure I annoyed the hell out of my husband by saying, “Hey I’m sad. I’m not actually sad about anything in particular, at least I don’t think so? I’m just feeling sad right now and maybe I’ll let you know what it’s about.” That is basically what I said to him while crying for no apparent reason. Yes, like a crazy person.

When I think back to memories of feeling lonely, I picture myself sitting in my room in high school. I’d lean against my full sized bed that I’ve had since I was in kindergarten. My room was a perfect square, just like all the perfect cookie cutter houses on my block. I’d look around my room and just wonder how I got there, why life was the way it was. I remember feeling like I had to do everything on my own. I can’t remember the last time I asked my mom or dad for help with anything. My parents were born and raised in the Philippines. My dad moved to the US in his late teens and my mom moved shortly after. They are the most loving, kind, supportive parents ever, and I give them so much credit for moving to the US and starting a family in a new country. But there were some nuances of American culture that they just didn’t understand, like sleepovers, for example. I remember asking my parents if I could sleep over at a friend’s house and their response would be, “No. Why would you sleep over at someone’s house when you have your own bed?” Good point, mom and dad! How do you even argue with that? When you’re a 15 year old Asian girl in a white-picket fence “American Dream” land like Bartlett, Illinois, the last thing you want is to not fit in and miss out on parties, I mean, “sleepovers!” Little things like this would come up all the time, making me feel misunderstood, alone and left out. 

Feelings of loneliness, unfortunately, aren’t limited to when I’m by myself. Sometimes I feel that way even when I’m with friends or family. Lately, I’ve noticed that I can be in the same room as my husband and feel completely unattached to him. I see myself doing it, and I can’t help but keep doing it. We’ll be getting ready for bed and I see him grab his phone and scroll and all I want to do is yell at him for “not being present.” For not listening to me even though I’m not talking. For not being there with me. But then I realize that I’m basically just criticizing myself. Because I’m the one distancing myself from him. I’m the one who is choosing not to engage with him. I’m the one who is not there with him. It makes me feel more alone than ever.

Sometimes we just feel lonely and there’s no reason why. Nothing tragic or devastating happens, it’s just a feeling that we can’t quite explain. All we can do is notice when it’s there and move through it. Yoga helps me a lot with this because it’s all about integration, connectedness and being united as one. When we are sad and lonely it’s because we feel separate from the world, isolated and afraid. Sometimes the only way through it is to feel it, and to realize you’re not the only one who feels that way. Next time you’re feeling particularly alone, explore it, figure out why you feel this way and feel it, all the way through, until you learn something about yourself that you may not have known before. 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, or a medical expert. This blog is based on my opinions, beliefs, and yogic philosophy. If you think you might have a mental health issue like depression, please seek professional help.