Alone…in a Crowded Room


I know what it feels like.

Everyone does really.

You can have piles of friends and be alone. You can have a loving family and be alone.

You can be alone in a room full of people. In a house full of people. You can be alone in an office full of people. You can be alone in a whole city full of people. And even in a very connected and crowded world of 7 billion people.

Alone has nothing to do with a proximity to anyone.

Alone is when the entire world is going on outside, that’s entirely different from the world going on inside your head. You’re alone when there is no one that you can talk to about that other world. When no one in your life could possibly understand your world.

I know what it feels like not to want to talk to people. To not want to see people, because you don’t want to talk to people. To scramble to find words, to quickly fill empty spaces in conversation. Because you don’t want those conversations to turn back to you and your life. I know what it’s like to fake your way through days and weeks and months at a time.

Hiding your feelings. Hiding your pain. Hiding your world.

You miss paragraphs when people are talking. You drive home in silence for 20 minutes before realizing your radio is off. You blink and a month goes by.

You are all by yourself, crowded room or not.

I once read, then wrote, that loneliness is a social pain. In that, when your appendix is about to burst, your side hurts. That’s your body giving you physical pain to tell you that something is wrong. The feeling of loneliness is a social pain. Telling you that you need more human contact. A longing for more interaction with people.

But feeling truly alone is so much more complicated than that.

Because the very human contact you crave, is the same thing that you fear. The connection you absolutely need. The one possible cure to what you’re going through. Is the very thing that would make you crumble.

There is poison in the antidote.

At least in your own mind.

One year ago, almost to the day, I was so alone. Literally and figuratively. I was on the brink of surgery. Alone, in a city where few people knew me. Even fewer wanted to spend time with me. I was literally alone much of the time. And I felt alone all of the time. Around strangers or around friends and loved ones. It didn’t matter.

The world was spinning one way. My head was spinning the opposite. It was the furthest removed I’d ever been from everyone else.

If you are alone, know that I see you. I see all the way through to you. And I feel for you.

I learned something when I was by myself that you need to know. It’s that when you’re alone, your savior is there. With you. All the time. As Guatama Buddha put it, “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

You can bring yourself up from this depth. You can do that. You, alone, will do that.

And when you do, you’ll find a world up there waiting for you. A world of people who are alone. Who were alone. And in pain. Just like you are. Just like you were. A world of people ready to talk. Ready to listen. Ready to give a hand. Ready to take a hand. Ready with smiles. And warmth. And love. Many of us having been through it. Many of us truly knowing what it feels like to come from where you were.

Showing these people your world is the solution. Letting these people inside is the answer. The antidote. There is no poison associated with it. Trust me.

Do what you can, when you can. I know it’s not easy to make that first step. But at some point, you have to start climbing. If you ever want to get out of this abyss.

You have to want to do this. Take a step. I know you don’t think you have the strength. But you are stronger than this.

Your desire will dictate this. Will drive this.

And just want, isn’t going to be enough. Because you must have sustained effort to get all the way there.You’re going to have to need to get up and out.

Start climbing, keep climbing. We’re all here waiting for you. With an understanding. With love. With a non-judgmental hand.