Sitting with Loneliness.

Via Dana Gornall
on Nov 23, 2013
get elephant's newsletter


I pull into the garage  while an overplayed song is on the radio. The house is quiet and dark because the kids are at their dad’s tonight.

Walking in I’m met with my furry friend and his wagging tail. A few minutes of greeting and petting are soon in order and a quick trip to pee outside in the cold November darkness. I bump up the temperature on the thermostat and put water on to boil for a cup of tea.

It is quiet. The television is off. A few left over dishes sit waiting to be washed in the sink and a lone shoe sits turned on it’s side near the hall closet. I am struck with the irony of how when you wish for something—like a moment of peace or a child-free space—and then actually get that wish, that it is not what you really wanted.

Right then, I would give almost anything for a bit of chatter and noise.

At this moment the only noise is silence that fills my ears along with the low hum of the refrigerator and an occasional sigh from my dog.

I settle down at the computer in the second-hand green painted chair I had picked up two summers ago on the lawn of an apartment building. A woman that looked to be in her 20’s  with a ponytail had just set it out with a sign that said free.  That summer I was in need of furniture since I had just moved out of the home that I had spent the last 13 years in and now was starting over—me, three kids and a dog—in a new, fairly empty place.

Tonight my computer illuminates the room that is now a lot less empty and I lean back surfing my news feed. I get to  working on editing a story and my mind is focused on fixing the spaces and commas. It is in this half-focused and half-dreamy state that I begin to feel her presence as she saunters in the room uninvited and finds an unoccupied spot next to me.

I feel her expectant gaze as she waits for a response—a reaction of sorts. At first I ignore her.

She has dropped in before and quickly left and so I think that if I don’t acknowledge her maybe she won’t stay. But tonight she is persistent and I can see she has no intention of this being a short visit.

My fingers tap away in moderate speed at the keyboard with a clickety-clack and the furnace blows hot air on my legs.

“Go on,” I say “I am busy. I have work to do and I don’t need you here tonight.” Yet, she stays and she sits and I continue to work. I feel the frustration growing since she is now plainly a distraction to the things I need to get done and I want to just yell and scream to make her go. Maybe if I yelled loudly enough she would leave.

“I don’t want you here!”

Unmoving and slightly amused she remains there unimpressed with my childish display of annoyance.

I know from experience that Loneliness stays as long as she chooses. She has sat up late with me in college those nights long ago when I chose to stay behind and study. She lay close to me in bed as the tears fell silently in the aftermath of arguments and words that stung long after they were uttered. She followed me closely so much after I moved into this house that I had begun to think she would linger forever.

There was no telling her when to go or how long to stay so instead I allowed her presence as I worked—me in my once abandoned green painted chair and her in her quiet resolve.

As much as I wished her away, I felt a certain comfort like an old friend.

She has known my frustration. She has listened to my inner criticism in moments of self-doubt and felt my insecurity. With Loneliness  I could let go of the facade of holding things together and be in a place of uncertainty and imbalance. I could be ugly and unruly or temperamental and irrational. I could be scared or I could be sad and it was okay to be ignorant or self-absorbed because she didn’t have any expectations. She simply sat with me as I found my way in my own time. She knew me as much as I knew me and so it was useless to attempt to shoo her away.

She is my silent forgiving companion during windy cold nights and keeps me company in mornings when I am surrounded by empty seats at the breakfast table.

And so there in silence I typed with my dog sighing and the refrigerator humming in the echo of quiet reverberating those walls that just hours before were filled with light and sound and laughter. The furnace clicked and shut off and the house creaked with the wind and we sat together—loneliness and me.


Like elephant love on Facebook.

Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo Credit: Pixoto


About Dana Gornall

Dana Gornall is a mom of three crazy kids and a dog. She works as a licensed massage therapist in Amherst, Ohio and is a certified sign language interpreter. She is always looking forward to even more personal growth. While not interpreting, doing massage, or being with her family she loves going to yoga. You can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.


14 Responses to “Sitting with Loneliness.”

  1. Guest says:

    I love how my daily "wake up call" from the elephant journal not only comes at the exact, right moment, but it comes with the exact, right message too! I don't know how it happens, but your message really speaks to me. Thank you!

  2. Amy says:

    Wow. can I identify with your feelings of loneliness. I am in a relationship that is going no where but into more loneliness. Why is"she", loneliness always there? I hate her. She makes me feel like a loser. This time of year is always tough for me. I am involved with a man who is married and I want him to end it with his wife. I must let go and let things happen as they will. Thank God for furry kids, he is getting me through this. I feel true love with this person, and it is hard t let go. Yoga is hard for me right now, hearing concepts of gratefulness, happiness, are hard to hear, let alone teach in class. I have had an open heart and now it hurts. I look at other and see how happy they are, I want that, too. I am tired of not having it.

  3. Cat B says:

    Dana, wow, best yet. Beautiful.

  4. Amy says:

    Thank you for sharing this. She isn't always a welcome guest, but she comes anyway……and I have learned to sit with her most times.

  5. @DanaGornall says:

    I'm so glad it spoke to you. Thank you.

  6. @DanaGornall says:

    Amy, I am so sorry you are going through this. I understand seeing happiness and feeling that way about it. Hang in there. Loneliness doesn't stay forever.

  7. @DanaGornall says:

    Thanks, Cat. 🙂

  8. @DanaGornall says:

    Thank you for reading and commenting, Amy.

  9. Hello! You have said the magic words! "I am tired of not having it." Today is the day! Tell that person you will never see him again, and he is not to contact you in any way.

    Then break free! Your freedom is priceless! And it opens the door to beautiful, warm, loving relationships that are full-time and fabulous. But they can't happen until you do what you have to do. Go for it!

  10. Carolyn says:

    Loneliness must have a twin. She visits here often too. sending you a virtual hug. Your words warmed my heart. Thank you.

  11. I.G.B. says:

    Wow. It all sounds so familiar, the three kids and everything. Only he kept the dog. I like the way you reframed Loneliness to help find the positive in it; because She/It does know me, there is nothing to hide. We've spent time together before. She's a good companion if what you're looking for is personal growth.

  12. @DanaGornall says:

    Thank you, Carolyn. Virtual hug accepted!

  13. @DanaGornall says:

    I.G.B., sometimes when I resist Loneliness, she hurts more. Allowing her presence from time to time and going with it, lets me accept her and enjoy the moments when she is gone. <3

  14. Virginia says:

    I love the creation of loneliness as an entity that is seperate from us, not an integral part but a visitor. She comes in different guises and I have to say the loneliness felt when you are alone holds so much more warmth and compassion than the one that visits when you are in a relationship that doesn’t serve you. Thank you for your beautiful and evocative words.