Misery likes company, but it’s not mutual

Loneliness, illness, sadness can all make us as self-centred as the most arrogant egotist. Watch out you don’t fall into the trap of thinking your misery is unique and fascinating…

If you’ve been unhappy for a while, or are socially isolated for whatever reason, it SO easy to bore on about your life to a friendly face. But the friendly face will probably make its excuses as soon as it can get a word in edgeways, then run screaming for the hills. I can say this with confidence because a couple of weeks ago I met a great couple – interesting, smart, funny, kind. And because I hadn’t had a conversation in English of any note for about six weeks, there was a reservoir of dammed-up chatter: their interest broke the dam and they copped for the lot. Poor things. At least I apologised afterwards, so they’re still talking to me, just. My sister told me once that she’d done much the same, after weeks of talking to no-one but the dogs and her herd of cows. Her husband was away on a long trip, and she lived on an isolated farm, so she tended to have rather one-sided conversations.

Loneliness and other bad feelings can overwhelm you so that you can’t see over the top of the rut, and everywhere you look there’s only bleakness. The trick is to keep in mind that it’s an illusion. There is a whole fascinating world out there, and if you can only drag yourself out of your rut by a few inches, you’ll see things to distract you from your ditch of depression. Get out of your head and immerse yourself in something. Anything. Watch the clouds, watch a bird or a beetle, listen to music that DOESN’T reinforce your misery. Walk beside water or through trees and observe, listen, touch.

It’s a big world and life keeps going. Each of us is a miniscule part of it, but at one with it all at the same time. You get a better perspective when you’re in a bigger context and can see further. Grab the bit of life that’s closest to you and have a lively day – just because you can.

Have you ever found yourself boring on about your miserable dull life? Or have you had to put up with someone moaning at you for ages?  What would you say to them – or yourself? 

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6 comments on “Misery likes company, but it’s not mutual

  1. Jan says:

    I’m afraid I once had to ‘let a friend go’ …. I never felt good about it and only really lost the guilt about it when she died last year. She wasn’t a well person – though not terminally ill or anything – I’m not that heartless! She actually became her misery, without it I think she would not have had an identity. I would visit and be bright and breezy – until I left, when I would somehow always have managed to entrain to the negative vibration and become miserable myself. I persevered, using various techniques to try to keep myself ‘up’ but in the end I had to take a step back and eventually remove myself from the friendship for the sake of my own wellbeing. It felt like she sucked all the energy out of me and, while obviously I felt sorry for her and felt like a bit of a traitor, I just couldn’t let it go on.
    I always try to be a good friend and treat people as I would like to be treated so I thought hard about posting this as it doesn’t exactly demonstrate me at my best, but I feel it’s relevant.
    We all should be able to ‘vent’ or have a little moan about things that we ‘re not happy about from time to time, but there’s a limit – and things can always be worse!

    • Arabella says:

      Great comment, as ever, Jan. Don’t worry – we’ve all done it – letting people go is necessary sometimes, as you say, for our own wellbeing. It doesn’t show you in a bad light at all. It shows your honesty and your awareness – and your compassion. I’d like to make a post out of your comment as the energy leech syndrome is an important one.

  2. At different times of my life I have gotten seriously depressed. I think that it’s best to reach out to the people closest to you. They should accept you and it will make you feel better. One way I defeat the monster is to force myself out of bed, and go to the gym. I do swimming aerobics or something else. I always am in a more positive frame of mine when I am done!

    • Thanks for your response. Exercise is brilliant for getting you out of your head, at least as far as your body, and the chemicals that then shoot round your body, like endorphins, are a great cure for depression.
      Do you find that your closest family/friends are as supportive as you need them to be? That’s fantastic, if so. You’re right – they should accept you and make you feel better, but not everyone has that. Give them all a big hug and a lovely Christmas present!!
      Thanks for reading and commenting – I really appreciate it.

  3. Cate says:

    One of the biggest revelations of life on the other side of 50 has been looking at the world as though for the first time really seeing the people — their stances, their gestures, their movements, their expressions — and realizing that in my teens, 20s, and 30s I for the most part passed up the opportunity to just take an interest in other people, in ideas, in the world itself, and instead focused on the thing I would say next and how I was feeling about the entire process.

    It also strikes me that I knew a number of tolerant, extremely kind people who gently pointed out my self-centeredness. However, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I had to find out the truth for myself on the journey, and it’s only now that I truly appreciate the warnings.

    There were missed opportunities and relationships gone awry, but insights discovered late are at least insights discovered at all.

    • Cate – what a great comment – thank you! Aren’t the 50s great? A few downsides, granted, but in all the ways you mention, so freeing. Sometimes (in my case, anyway) a bit cringe-making to look back at what a div I was in my teens and 20s. I think I started to wake up in my 30s but it’s taken till my 50s to sit up and take real notice, like you.
      You put it so well, and it’s lovely to read.
      Do you ever try to give young people a steer? Do they ever respond the way you’d like? Or do they all have to jump through the same old hoops as we did before they learn for themselves? And are you ever amazed at young people who seem clear and focused and so much themselves already?

      thanks so much for reading and commenting. Look forward to more of you.

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