Antidote for Loneliness

If you’re anything like me, my desire for a relationship increases around the holidays.  Christmas, New Years, then Valentine’s day shortly afterwards can seem like a brutal time for the single person.  Everyone else seems to be cuddling up with their love, celebrating and keeping warm from the cold, while the single person has to rely on sweaters and a heating unit for our warmth.  Sometimes, it can get incredibly lonely.

So how to keep from getting desperate?  From falling back into a bad relationship, or finding a new bad one simply as a cure for loneliness?  That’s one of the hardest parts about recovering from an abusive relationship and an abusive past; waiting for the right person for the future.

Here’s an interesting article I found that talks about ways to stay happy when it’s just you for a while, so that you can wait for the right guy/girl, and not just the available one:

After all, as George Michael sings in his song “Faith” :  “I need someone to hold me but I’ll wait for something more.”



Graphic media: Testing myself

For a long time, books/movies affected me deeply. Films where cheating or violence occurred disturbed me more deeply than they did most people, I found. There were times when I would start crying during sexually violent scenes, throw down the book or shut off the movie, and refuse to watch/read anymore. Now, I generally pride myself on being open-minded, but I couldn’t do it. Each time, it was like having an instant reaction, an instinctual freak-out, where I physically and mentally could NOT handle watching/reading that scene for another second.

I always wondered why I would do this, when others seemed so calm comparatively. Granted, I am aware that violence/cheating/abuse in various media can and does often affect people, but I seemed to react particularly strongly. I realize now that these art forms were stirring up the buried emotions towards my own past and various traumas.

That is one of the biggest changes I have noticed during my healing process. Through talk therapy, writing, movement, art, etc., I have learned that, as simple as it may seem, that if something is happening to someone else/in a movie, it does NOT mean that it is happening or is GOING TO HAPPEN to me. Before, I internalized everything bad that happened to anyone else, and took it to mean that I was doomed as well. I took it personally, deeply, and I hurt intensely.

I’m not saying we should be numb, or give up on empathy, I think empathy is a very important aspect of what makes us all human. However, what I had to learn was, just because bad things happen, doesn’t mean that bad things will ALWAYS happen. Or that they will always happen to ME. Since I feel more healed, reading and watching media that deals with these subjects hasn’t affected me as much.

Whenever I feel those panic emotions start to rise if something in the art/movie/book triggers a flashback, I set the media aside for a moment. I take a deep breath and I tell myself that everything is all right. That it is just fiction, that it is not happening to me. That I am in control of my life now.  That there’s no need to plan for that type of scenario, nor to expect it as a given. This technique has helped me immensely, and can be a very interesting exercise in aiding the healing process.

For me, I tested myself with the book “Choke” by Chuck Palahniuk. In the story, the protagonist is a sex addict, and the literary scenes can be pretty graphic at times. It was an interesting exercise for me to read this book and use it as a tool to retrain my brain/instincts. Every time a graphic sex scene would occur, I would simply take a deep breath and tell myself that everything was okay. That this was just a particularly dramatic scene. That I would never have to do anything like that simply because I would never want to. I reminded myself that no one is ever allowed to make me feel like I have to anymore. It was an exercise in overcoming violent, physical reactions, and in deciding on/defining my personal boundaries. I could go through this book, and say to myself, No, I am NOT comfortable doing that, and if the opportunity ever arose, I would tell whoever that I am not, and will not do that activity.

The point is, this exercise has helped me retrain my brain; and retrain my overreactions to fiction to a normal, healthy reaction. Yes, it’s okay to react to something strongly, but now I no longer have to throw a book away and cry because of some sentences I cannot change. I now know that just because something graphic/upsetting happens in fiction, it doesn’t mean it will automatically happen to me as well.