When I was a young girl growing up in rural Australia, I felt alone but never lonely! We always had plenty of space where I lived even when we moved from town to town with my father's work. I especially sought out the remotest areas I could, whether it be a park, the back of the garden a paddock or a school yard. I just seemed to like being alone. I was also a good observer. I could sit for hours on end just "people watching."
This skill to observe has served me well as a therapist. It has turned me from that weird girl who stares to that woman who listens intently to your stories and can hold the space comfortably: Two qualities that are a must in the therapeutic process.
I used to talk to myself as well, not out loud, just in my head. I was very happy with my own company and I don't think I was ever a bother for my parents. As the years passed this lonesomeness turned against me, especially in my teenage years when that internal conversation I was having with myself turned quite dark. In my head the voice would say "go to the gap, just go for a look." The gap can be found in Sydney -- it was the place then to commit suicide by jumping off the cliffs. I did go, and I did contemplate the jump, but something stopped me. I sometimes reflect on this time and feel gratitude towards whoever was looking over me.
Being alone then was a torment, having no one I trusted to talk to, not many good friends, actually I don't think I had one single friend back then that I could ring and have a chat to, and that was before the days of telephone counselling and help lines. I guess my hormones had a lot to do with my negative moods, on the surface I functioned normally, but inside I think I just had a death wish.
Fast forward some many years -- I will be 50 in November -- and I am wiser and know my mind well. When I started on my personal developmental journey I read every self-help book to be read, but it wasn't until I sought out counselling four years ago that I was given an interesting concept to ponder. I was diagnosed as being a twin.
The correct term is vanishing twin syndrome. "Vanishing twin syndrome was first recognized in 1945. Vanishing twin syndrome is when one of a set of multiple fetuses disappears in the uterus during pregnancy. This is the result of a miscarriage of one twin. The fetal tissue is absorbed by the other twin/multiple, placenta or the mother. This gives the appearance of a "vanishing twin."
My therapist and I explored this reality and what it brought up for me was a great sense of grief and loss. I had always imagined as a child that I hadn't needed any friends because I felt this overwhelming sense that I was never alone. It just made so much sense to me at that moment, I was indeed lonely, yet I was never alone.
If you have a similar story of being alone and how you coped please share it with me below.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.