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.