Admitting to friends we’re feeling a bit blue, or downright and unutterably depressed is difficult. Verging on impossible.
Confessing that one is lonely is also something that rarely we readily admit to.
Why? Perhaps it’s human nature to want to fit in, to have a connection and be able to communicate with others, to be liked, to be normal (whatever normal is). We don’t want to be whispered about or appear to be a social outcast. We want others to respect us, value our opinions, perhaps even look up to us. And yet that’s rather difficult when we find ourselves as a snivelling wreck clutching a box of Kleenex tissues in the office stationary cupboard.
More and more often I am meeting people here in New York, who are finally admitting that when they first arrived in this city they were lonely and/or depressed. But they didn’t admit it at the time – oh no! Probably in part because they didn’t know anyone well enough to. Even so, it can be lonely even when we’re never actually alone … indeed, even some marriages are lonely.
My funny old life here is very social and yet I still can be lonely. What I yearn for, which of course takes time, is a close friend, a friend who is a real ‘mucker’ as we say in England. Someone whom we can pop round to see at a moment’s notice and doesn’t mind that we have a snivel, a moan, a self pitying wail as we beat ourselves up and then eat them out of tea and biscuits. They listen without rolling their eyes, hand us tissues, give us a big hug and then force us to snap out of our self-flagellation whilst telling us to get a life.
“It takes time and effort,” they say and before we can utter another squeak, have enrolled us in their weekly Ethiopian basket weaving course … We leave hours later, feeling infinitely better yet wondering exactly how we can extricate ourselves from said basket weaving course. Although, it was either going to be that, or Tango lessons at the local church.
It takes courage to admit all is not well.
If we stay silent, nobody knows that we need help. Irritatingly, I’ve discovered to my detriment that telepathy doesn’t work.
What I have discovered is that honesty is as ever the best way forward. Choosing the person carefully and then opening up is half the battle.
What I love about the Americans is how they want to help. If you’re looking for work, they immediately put you in contact with others. If you’re lonely, they invite you into their homes. Their generosity is unbelievable.
I shall be sure to look out for others new to the city and offer them the same kindness I have received.
And, next week I start my french course. French, because according to my husband we have no need for any more shabby chic baskets in delicate shades of taupe and misty sky blue in our apartment, Ethiopian or otherwise.
Wish me luck!