It’s been a while since I posted here. I’ve been so busy doing this and that I guess I forgot.
The last few weeks I’ve been thinking it might be nice to have a dog for company. I’ve been living alone, for the first time in my life, since I bought an apartment in late March. Sometimes the solitude is glorious; I don’t need to worry about bothering anyone when I get home late(ish), or worry about being woken up early by someone going to work. I can make as much mess as I want (I don’t because I’m a bit OCD, but that’s not the point). I can wander around in any state of dress without worrying about shocking my housemates. But other times, when I’m sitting on the couch watching some dross on my computer, or after having scrolled endlessly through social media feeds, or more often while doing both of these at once, I feel lonely.
I can’t just get up and talk to someone. I have to put effort into arranging catch-ups, or leaving the house to make new friends. It feels like hard work, and it feels like I’m always the one making approaches to see people.
I’ve noticed a couple of articles recently on what might be called a ‘loneliness epidemic’. I’ve been feeling loneliness on and off for quite a long time, probably since I was a child. I guess part of me struggles to really connect with people, and I worry a lot that people have forgotten about me; I think that’s genetic, my Nan seems to be the same. But part of me thinks that the illusion of connection that we have through social media actually makes us less connected.
I’m trying a few different things to counteract the feelings of being isolated that come up occasionally. I’ve found a good little cafe locally where I can sit and read a book, or do a bit of writing, the people working there seem friendly but I don’t know if they recognise me yet.
I thought I might adopt a greyhound, there are so many who come out of the racing industry and need to be re-homed. I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to foster a female brindle for a week as a trial, and unfortunately I didn’t even make it through the week. She was not like any pet I’ve ever met; not surprising as she doesn’t really know how to ‘pet’, but she was defiant, and hard to handle, and I didn’t feel like we bonded. In the end I asked if there was another foster carer who could take her off my hands. It was disappointing for a number of reasons, not least because it wasn’t really the dog’s fault we didn’t get on. I was also surprised by how traumatic I found it looking after a creature who was so dependent on me with whom I didn’t share a bond of affection.
I was reminded how hard it must be for people suffering post-partum depression; imagine giving birth to something that you didn’t feel connected to. It made me feel terrible to look at this dog and really resent having to fulfil her needs; toileting, feeding, exercising, and entertaining her.
I find it quite hard to admit when I can’t do something, particularly something that was supposed to be really fun like getting a dog. I’m not looking to try it again any time soon, I’m not sure that I’d be able to do it even with a dog I really loved as a person living alone. Perhaps I’ll get a fish, a colleague recommended a budgie, but I’m not keen on birds.
A lot of my time spent alone is blissful solitude, but I need to make sure I’m having contact with other people. Cultivating relationships will be important for the next year or so to ensure that I have enough good, strong relationships to keep me feeling connected. And I know I should spend less time on social media – because it really doesn’t help, but one thing at a time.
Christopher Ringrose said:
An interesting and frank response to the presence of the dog, Fleur. We always had a dog when I was growing up, and they were a mixed blessing. Sometimes fun and comforting. At other times an extra demand on one’s time and unappealing in certain habits. Had you thought of having a cat? Some drawbacks but probably none of the problems you describe. . . .
Thanks Chris – unfortunately I don’t like cats, or birds.
What a shame, having a rescue grey myself they are the most rewarding pet you could ever own. They have plenty to teach you about patience and selflessness, and in turn they learn how to trust and to love after such an awful experience in the racing industry – as a survivor of trauma myself it was cathartic to be a part of the healing process for another soul. To see them blossom into their real selves over time is absolute magic, but not for everyone I guess.
I think it might have been just that dog, I might try again, but not for a while.
Yeah I’ve been going to cafes and libraries for a while – it’s still spending conscious time with yourself but it’s kind of with company, you’re near people but don’t have to talk to them! Finding cafe vibes open late at night has been a challenge.