Last year I fell during an obstacle race and I ended up with a fractured tibia. For a while afterwards I hobbled around in a complicated brace that protected the injured part of my leg and I longed for something similar that I could velcro-strap on my insides, which were, frankly, falling apart. A cracked bone was nothing, just the cherry on the giant emotional shit sundae of early 2016. My life was crumbling and I could not keep it to myself: I had to talk about the pain or the pain would eat me alive.

So I wrote about what I was going through. I wrote publicly. I told my truth as best I could but the story was messy and revealing and I regret sharing it the way I did.

I can tell you from experience there are lots of reactions you’ll get if you decide to expose your yeesh-laden personal train wreck to the world. There will be kindness, support, and empathy. There will be people who tell you they don’t approve of the way you’re behaving. There will be people who tell you they don’t know what to say but you’re worrying them. There will be silent staring bystanders and you’ll probably never know what they were thinking. There will be people who sever ties. There will be carrion birds.

My life looks nothing like it did, for which I am deeply grateful. But sometimes things don’t heal perfectly. My knee isn’t like it was. My heart isn’t like it was. If I had social anxiety before, I have something different now, something that grips me like a vise. Just like that internal brace I once wished for.

I don’t reach out to people now. I did not try and repair those lost relationships, except for the one that was most important. On the rare occasion someone tries to connect with me, I shut them out. Aside from long-distance emails and calls, I don’t have friends. My family lives 339.4 miles away from me.

There are two stories I tell myself about this. One: I’m doing okay. I love my kids and my husband and I am an introvert who genuinely enjoys alone time. I have a new volunteer position that will involve plenty of human interaction and I have lots of things that keep me busy.

Two: I’m lonely. I’m lonely, I’m lonely, I’m lonely.

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Karen
Karen
5 years ago

Oh Linda…me too. ((hugs and some tears)) from Chicago

jennbb33
jennbb33
5 years ago

I’m sorry you’re lonely.
I’m lonely too. I’ve followed you for years. I’ve made mistakes and have had to put my habits aside, perhaps indefinitely, because they were breaking my insides and leaving them as ground meat.
I feel lonely, too, and out of love, and full of sadness and regret and desire that I can never act on.
You aren’t alone, even if you’re lonely. I’m here, drop me a line if you feel like talking to a complete stranger.

Heather
5 years ago

I know that lonely feeling. It’s hard but I also am learning to be happy in that same sort of bubble you speak of. But yeah, lonely.

Stacy
Stacy
5 years ago

Letting people in can be risky and painful and scary and potentially wonderfully life changing. There’s a formula for how much you reveal in time but I haven’t learned that yet. :-/
Dive it. You won’t regret it.

yasmara
yasmara
5 years ago

Here too….

Emily
5 years ago

Sending love. Pain and loneliness are such bitches.

For what it’s worth, meditation (secular-style) has helped me a lot with both those bitches, as well as PTSD. If you’re interested, my meditation teacher wrote a book called The Mindful Geek that I think you’d love.

Also: nobody really has their shit together. Pass it on.

Starr
Starr
5 years ago

All of the above and then some. Peace to you. I hope you find connections that help heal you.

jj
jj
5 years ago

Damn, Linda. I’m sorry to read this. I’ve followed you for years (I started blogging in 2009 and you were one of the first people whose writing I loved!). So much of your ups and downs I have identified with, and I hate that you’re not feeling surrounded by support. In my case, I’m very outgoing and have a good crew of friends who live pretty near by me, but only a couple of friends who live FAR away have any idea of the full story of what’s been going on in my life and heart and body. Oddly (awesomely?) enough, the person who knows the absolute most about me is someone I met through blogging years ago. Far away friends are real friends, I 100% believe that. But I know sometimes you just want someone who lives down the street to call you up for a walk and some talking time. :( If you ever want to chat (or email), feel free to drop me a line. I know you don’t know me (I can send you a link to my blog privately if you want), but I think of you often and hope you’re doing well, and I hate that the loneliness is creeping up on you…

Deana
Deana
5 years ago

Longtime reader. Infrequent commenter. Lonely sucks. Full stop.

Liz
Liz
5 years ago

I wish there were more than the comments section, which always feels inadequate. I’m so sorry you’re feeling lonely. That’s one of the worst feelings. I also have read you for a long time and think of your struggles a lot. I hope you can feel the support of your quiet readers somehow.

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

I’ve been reading you since Purple is a Fruit. You have touched my life in little and big ways for years. My kids play the Tiny Tiger game on my phone because you once recommended it. Your fitness posts inspired me to start running. And it was a post of yours that helped me finally to make peace with my breastfeeding struggles.

You have no idea who I am but I think of you often and hope you’re doing OK. The internet is weird in the way it creates these lopsided relationships. I’m sorry you’re lonely. I wish I could offer more in exchange for all the entertainment and guidance and solace you’ve given me over the years. But I’m thousands of miles away in the UK, and all I can offer is my gratitude and my genuine hope for your happiness and wellbeing.

Donna Brubach
Donna Brubach
5 years ago

Party at Linda’s. We’re all coming over. And we may stay for weeks. That will fix your loneliness forever. You won’t be lonely but you’ll hate us all lol. I’m worse than a kid and I’d bet a lot of us are!

camille
camille
5 years ago

Hugs from me too. Maybe it’s creepy to say because I know you virtually but you don’t know me at all (mother of a 6 and 8 year old, north of Seattle), but if you lived closer I’d see if we could meet up. As much as it helps (maybe not at all?), you have a big group of virtual friends who are cheering you on.

Lori
Lori
5 years ago

I know that feeling all too well.

Veronica
Veronica
5 years ago

I read that last line and it echoed what I have running through me all the time like a 2nd heartbeat. I’m lonely, I’m lonely, I’m lonely. Although sometimes it also howls like a banshee.

Then I read some of these comments and like an idiot realized that of course I wasn’t the only one. Like the Police said “Seems I’m not alone in being alone”

I appreciate you sharing because your writing style is so wry and authentic. Your voice is a good force out here in the void so I hope you keep writing.

Jody
Jody
5 years ago

Sending big hugs.

The Saurus
The Saurus
5 years ago

Oh Linda, I hear you and I know that feeling and the dichotomy you speak of – I too am a lonely introvert. I love my friends and I love to spend time with them but it feels like such hard work to arrange to see them, and I worry that they won’t want to spend time with me because I have low self-esteem.

I think you’re amazing (even though we’ve never met) and so brave and you’re doing a great job of living a good life, something that is surprisingly difficult.

Sending much love from a long time follower and very occasional commenter.

Lisa
Lisa
5 years ago

I think you really tapped into something that so many introverts feel. I’m a longtime reader too- since before you had kids. I’m close to your age- 42- and though I don’t have kids, I understand your emotions about this so much. My husband and I are both introverts, and our families are near, but they are introverts too, and my sister, my best girlfriend always & forever, lives 9 hours away. We used to have a tight group of friends, but they’ve all moved away. We both shut people out too. I also volunteer a lot, which helps, and I enjoy alone time, but yes, I often feel lonely too.

Kate
Kate
5 years ago

I wish you peace and light. I know wishes don’t do much in the moment to fulfill that longing and need, but I wish speed for what will fill you. I hope there is comfort in seeing the comments that wish you well.

T. Glasgow
T. Glasgow
5 years ago

I’m going through something a bit similar…my divorce was final three years ago and I haven’t even so much as gone out on a date. I’m pretty busy with my kids, my house, and earning my degree and I don’t regret any of it. On the one hand I’m perfectly fine not dating; who’s to say I won’t pick another loser? What if the guy I fall for is a dick to my kids? On the other hand: I’m lonely.

Big, awkward hugs to you.

Anne Lindy
Anne Lindy
5 years ago

❤️Me too.

Alison
Alison
5 years ago

Me too. I accept being an introvert now much more than I did when I was younger. But even that is stifling in a way, because I don’t make myself connect like I once did. Plus I have so many children talking at me constantly, it seems less necessary until that lonely feeling hits.

I’ve been reading you forever. I think of you and hope you’re doing ok. God that sounds creepy all typed out, but as someone said above, the internet creates these weird lopsided connections.

So much of what write is helpful to me and I’m sure to so many others. I hope you don’t regret what you write. It is genuinely meaningful to see my own feelings and failings all written out much more eloquently than I could ever manage. I admire you. And I really mean that.

Trish
Trish
5 years ago

Hugs and peace to you!

anne nahm
5 years ago

hugshugshugshugshugshugshugs

Cara
Cara
5 years ago

I wish I had something constructive to offer. I have been there, only without the extra emotional weight. Just recently I have found a better place by creating a good bond with several neighbors, which has somehow grown in to an entire street full of friends. I started with one neighbor I was already close to (because our kids were friends) and asking my extroverted husband to help me get to know our neighbors. Once the ice was broken and I had “my” place, it was easier to grow the circle. I want to ask if maybe there’s a person or two​ you could​ start with, but you described the anxiety so well I can see that would be an asinine, if well meaning, question. I will just be over here hoping you find your way to break in too.

sooboo
sooboo
5 years ago

That was beautifully written. I guess I think of you as having a lot of friends because you you come across as someone who would make a good friend. When I was a teenager I had tons of friends. I always had a best friend or best friends. When I got older, got married, took care of aging parents, worked on a career, I had no friends for years and years and it was so lonely. And now it’s really hard to form deep friendships. I have anxiety too. The last couple of months I have gone out of my way to go to coffee, lectures, on walks with women I don’t know that well. It’s hard and the social hangover where I replay and regret half the things I’ve said the next day is huge. But overall I do feel better, more in the world in a way I haven’t in a long time. I also take Suntheanine at the recommendation of my therapist and that has helped make it more bearable. Have you listened to the podcast Emotional Hangs? It’s all about navigating adult friendships.

Bree
5 years ago

Thank you for sharing with us. Sending lots of love to you.

Lisa
Lisa
5 years ago

I am always up for texting, if you want to ping someone just for the occasional pop culture commentary and/or any other discussion that floats across the ol’ brainal dash. If you texting me feels weird, I’m happy to text you first too, lady.

Donna
Donna
5 years ago

Like so many others, I’ve been reading you for years, Linda, sometimes laughing so hard at what you’ve written, sometimes crying a few tears with and for you, and always always always being so envious of your writing. Thank you for putting into words what many of us feel. Add my hugs to all the others.❤️

Jen in Germany
Jen in Germany
5 years ago

Hugs, Linda. You may be feeling lonely, but you are not alone. Please feel the heart energy I am sending out to you along with so many others you have touched with your writing who are out there cheering for you. One day I hope to show my boys the Pacific Northwest and along the way, we can link up and share a cup of coffee while our boys run around. And yet as I write that I have to laugh (at myself) because the thought of that probably freaks you out-social anxiety and all-so not much comfort. Sigh. Social anxiety and all, I think you are a talented, insightful, funny, kind, loving person. Sorry you are feeling lonely.

Delia
5 years ago

Long time reader, though I almost never comment. I just wanted to say that I feel for you, for what you are going through, and the loneliness. I know what that feels like too. But above all, I wanted to let you know that (even if you may not realise it) I think you are one of the bravest, strongest people I have ever come across. To share what you have been through, your honesty, your experiences – both good and bad – and to bare your soul, that take true courage.

Julie
Julie
5 years ago

The volunteering is a great idea. I hope it connects you to someone new you can hang out with. Making new friends as an introvert suuuuucks, but I believe the universe does send them when we need them. I hope yours is right around the corner!

sandy
sandy
5 years ago

I am an extrovert….I have lots of friends…..but my 27 year marriage is ending, due to my husbands infidelity……and I have experienced a loneliness in the past 4 months that has been soul crushing. Even with people to talk with and family that tries to ease my pain , at the end of the day its me. I am trying to learn a lesson in this but some days are easier than others. I am the opposite…..I think I sometimes reach out too much…..and maybe freak people out with my neediness. I feel whatever helps is helpful……but finding the balance can be difficult.

There is loneliness everywhere….maybe knowing others feel the way you do brings some level of comfort. Peace to you!

Mary Clare
Mary Clare
5 years ago

It’s complicated, being an introvert, right? I crave friendships and friends to talk to but only on very specific terms. Definitely not all the time. That pushes people away. A lot of people view introverts as standoff-ish. Luckily old friends seem to ‘get me’ and my introvert ways and we still reconnect after periods. I hope you find peace with yourself and friendships. Lots of hugs!

elizabeth_k
elizabeth_k
5 years ago

I see you; I hear you; I appreciate you.

Jen T
Jen T
5 years ago

Me too, and I’m sorry you are. I love my husband and kids too…but oh what I wouldn’t do for a friend.

shannon
shannon
5 years ago

Sometimes you can cast the widest (inter)net and be surrounded by people who support you, and still feel lonely. Sending you big hugs from Canada, and hoping that the volunteer position extends opportunities for new, local friendships to balance out the lonely.

Em
Em
5 years ago

Hugs!

Sarah
Sarah
5 years ago

I have been a long time reader. I have no words of wisdom, but wanted you to know that there are people who care, people who are listening, and people who understand about the dual stories we tell ourselves. Sending you good vibes.

misguidedmommy
5 years ago

Me too. Times a million. A lot of times I read your stuff and it feels like I’m reading my own thoughts. I quit writing, because my family found my blog, and it stopped being fun, getting in trouble for writing my truths. Also no one understood that I was writing to get it out, and to help others, but NOT because I wanted to talk about it in person, face to face. I would post something and everyone wanted to fucking talk about it. I don’t want to talk about it for fuck sake.

I get it. I was at a back doctor today and she tried to prescribe me non narcotic muscle relaxers and I had a near panic attack about it. It’s too close to any sort of narcotic. I don’t care how many times she said non narcotic. My brain couldn’t go back to that place.

Haley
Haley
5 years ago

Loneliness sucks. Sorry that you’re going through it. It makes me feel less alone when I read your beautiful stories

Shawna
Shawna
5 years ago

I’ve started to think that unless you’re the “glass of wine and giggling with girlfriends” sort of woman (which I’m so not), being lonely and having trouble making close friendships in real life is just part of being an adult woman. I’ve also heard it can be equally hard for men if they’re not the beer-at-sports bar types, and my husband would certainly seem to bear this out.

So it would seem we’re all kind of lonely, but not alone in our loneliness. Which doesn’t really help, but I guess is kind of comforting?

Barbra
Barbra
5 years ago

Hello there,

Addiction and all of the tiny bundles of nerve tissue it wraps itself around can make everyday life almost unbearable. With the addiction, great until the pendulum swings, without, a great void and silence that makes life look pale and one dimensional. No one tells you that it’s the loneliness that binds us to addiction. No one tells you that you will never look at normal as good again.

I have learned that my mental health is imperative to staying clean. I’m sure you’ve learned by now that most of us suffer from some type of mood disorder.
Medication has kept me on track for almost ten years now. I suggest you look down that rabbit hole if you haven’t already. It keeps me alive. Plain and simple.

I’m here if you need anyone to talk to honestly about addiction.

Faye
Faye
5 years ago

I’m so sorry that you’re lonely, Linda. It’s one of the saddest, hardest things to deal with. Well done for pulling your life back, it’s so brave, and it takes a lot of tenacity to do that. I hope that as your heart heals (yes, I know this is sappy, but it’s sincere) that the loneliness lifts – whether through new friends, or reconnecting with old friends. Sending you love and sunshine from Africa. Faye x (who is usually irreverent, but who is hugely empathetic, and so, earnest, on this issue)

Julie
Julie
5 years ago

Thank God I found your post and the comments today! I have been feeling very lonely lately. I’m 45, with only 1 really close girlfriend. I have no problems with my relationships with men. I have tried and tried, and think it’s time officially give up. Must be me, I think. (But I’m cool! Really.) Love your writing and you’ll never be alone with all of us here.

Jessica
Jessica
5 years ago

I too have read your words for years. And I saw you fall apart last year and I felt helpless on your behalf. The one-sided connection (I know about your life but you don’t know about mine and so what gives me license to bust a move on the worry I felt for you.) I tried so very clumsily, just once, and it felt awful. But I kept wondering and hoping that you had found the strength to get up one more time and dust yourself off and reclaim your life. I hate that you are lonely. And I cannot help with that except for saying that I think you are a wonderful, extraordinary human being and I wish you didn’t hurt.

jenny
jenny
5 years ago

long time lurker. you are one of the bravest people that I know (read about). i am so glad you are back here writing and know that you are doing ok… or as ok as any of us are.

Jenny Hoffman
Jenny Hoffman
5 years ago

I used to be terrified to be alone, because then I had to face all the LONELINESS and there was no escape! But then I found Landmark. The Landmark Forum helped me get my dad back, and then the Advanced Course helped me figure out what was standing between me and other people (hint: it was me.). I am now a volunteer coach for the Self Expression and Leadership Program, so I don’t get paid for people who sign up. But I highly, highly recommend it. LandmarkWorldwide.com

Eve
Eve
5 years ago

When my children were babies I read your blog all the time. Even though we never met, your writing made me feel not alone. I probably commented a few times on posts, but for the most part I was invisible to you.
I thought you had stopped writing on the internet, and for some reason today I typed in this web address and there you were! Thank you for writing. Reading your words always makes me feel better, because I then have proof that there are other people like me. You are a beautiful writer and a cool person. Thank you for being who you are.

Vic
Vic
5 years ago

Me too – lonely introvert. It sucks. I’m even considering joining Facebook (ugh) to see if it will help me feel connected.