I had a conversation with a friend the other night when she was drunk, the kind of drunk where words flow fast and loose. She said she was lonely.
She wanted to watch TV with someone, go to concerts, go to the grocery store. Someone, she said, to simply be.
And in the clarity of the morning, I thought about loneliness.
Loneliness is taboo, especially with women. The old cliché: a strong independent woman.
Strong women don’t get lonely. We can be our own best friend, our own lover, and our own mentor. Everything you need to be happy, they say, is already inside of you.
But loneliness, a need for simple companionship—someone to press into as you sleep, share a table with, someone to say, “how was your day”— runs deep.
Few admit loneliness. Like my friend, they only admit their feelings in a drunken confessional.
We cling to the absence of loneliness, all while managing a carefully maintained image of strength, as if strength had one definition.
The fear of loneliness can drive us. A relationship sustained even as it crumbles, a night with a stranger, a call that shouldn’t be made.
I have often felt that needing someone was a weakness, a shameful thing to be buried deep. I know others feel this way as well. We are not broken without companionship, we do not lose the core of ourselves when we are alone. But we cannot force ourselves to admit that maybe some part of us needs someone else, that our individual identities are strengthened with someone beside us.
We can bury loneliness, but I don’t think it makes us strong.
I think strength is admitting what no one wants to admit. And maybe, once we start to talk about loneliness, we’ll feel a little less alone.