Tag Archives: WOL

WOL – Why It Matters To Me

You may have heard me mention the “WOL,” or Web of Loneliness.  It’s a site I belong to.  A site I found several months ago that has given me the push to take my writing farther than I thought I could.  Lemme share a bit about what brought me there.

In a nutshell – I lost my dad when I was young, 12.  At the same time I lost my mom to grief as well as my older brother.  I grew up in a situation where no one really cared what I did, so I did a lot.  And though I was dealing with the beginnings of depression and anxiety, I had a fuck of a lot of fun.

For years I had fun with my friends.  Drinking, doing drugs, sleeping around a bit.  But I rarely shared the inner pain I was experiencing.  My depression grew, and my anxiety grew.  And though I had occasionally reached out to therapists and counselors, I always felt disconnected and gave up.

Which is what I eventually did with my group of friends.  No one understood why I couldn’t always be happy.  The more they tried to make me, the less I wanted to be with them.  And so I just gave up on them.

Several years went by, populated by a few romantic entanglements that didn’t pan out.  I’d tried to find a connection, that one person who would understand me and bring solace and meaning to my life.  I think it was always a matter of too much pressure.  Counting on one person to alleviate my loneliness.

And then there was the relationship that finally broke this camel’s back.  I wound up with someone who I let treat me badly, because I thought that’s how I should be treated.  But somewhere along the way, I realized that a man I loved should love me.  And this man didn’t.  So I got out.

Afterward, I went through a low.  So low.  I was realizing that though that man hadn’t loved me, he had been the only person in my life even slightly willing to know me, hear me.  And I found myself desperately lonely.  Not for the first time – but for the first time I was aware of what I was doing.  I wanted someone to know me, really know me and listen to me.

So one night, feeling that aching gap in my heart, I searched the web.  My keywords were something along the lines of “Fucking Lonely Chat.”  And I found the WOL.  And it damned near saved my life.  I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I’d continued to feel so alone and disconnected.  The thought scares me, frankly.  And I am so grateful, so very very grateful, to have found the community I did.

For the first time in my life, I could say exactly what I felt and feel truly validated.  I could share my weaknesses, my fears, my personal trials – and feel not only supported, but encouraged!  It was an amazing and overwhelming feeling.  To be surrounded by people who had felt the same, who had been where I was, felt what I felt – it was a revolutionary idea!

I started blogging there – you can read those old posts below, though I can assure you they are wild ramblings – and began to get positive feedback about my writing.  People enjoyed what I had to say – they connected with it somehow.  And that floored me.  That my words might mean something to someone else.  That I could express something that mattered.

That’s why I’m here today, writing in this blog.  I really can’t stress enough the impact the WOL has had on me.  I still feel lonely, at times so painfully so.  And I have yet to come to terms with some of the hurts that I have experienced.  But it’s due to those amazing, welcoming and supportive people that I write anything here.  I owe them so much.  And I will say so, over and over and over again.

If I ever make anything of myself in writing from this point on, in is in large, great, entire part to the WOL.  For giving one lonely person a place to feel she belongs.  I cannot express my gratitude and love – there really are no words.

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Everyday People, Every Day Kindness

I ride the bus. A lot. I walk. A lot. And in my riding and walking, I meet and see a tremendous amount of people. And I always wonder about their lives. About the young couple in the car driving past, what their lives are like and if they’re talking about having children. About the older lady in the thrift-store, what she’s experienced, lived through. About the man behind the counter of Walgreens, I wonder if he’s single.

Point being, I interact on some level with a hundred strangers per day in my little travels. Bus drivers, patrons and cashiers, random people doing their random chores in their random lives. I’m curious about each one. And as I smile my smile, exchange a few pleasantries, hold a door or chase down runaway oranges (doesn’t just happen in the movies), I wonder what impact I have.

If, for a moment, my smile, words, or actions make a difference.

This world is filled with lonely people. From every nation, every religion, every walk of life. It’s a fact that among the hundreds, if not thousands of people you see each day, there are far too many who are lonely. Who are longing for even the slightest, briefest connection.

Who’s to know who is lonely? We are the best at keeping that particular secret. I’ve talked with several people from the Web Of Loneliness site who say that they will admit to most anything before loneliness. It is a shame we hide deep, deep within. A secret that would cause unmentionable embarrassment if we were found out. But every day we are hoping that someone will see us, hear us, notice us. I know I do.

For in my small courtesies, do I not also seek that acknowledgement? A returned smile in answer to my own? A laugh at a simple joke? Even a “thank you” grudgingly given. These are things that intrude upon my own loneliness. That make my heart swell slightly, my cheeks redden with a blushing grin.

So, like me, many of us toil and travel on. Delighting in those brief interactions. Perhaps quietly going about our daily chores with a lowered gaze, avoiding all contact – yet desperate, so desperate, for a single genuine smile sent our way. What does it hurt? How hard is that to give? What does it cost one to do a single kindness, that could make another person’s day? That could make that one day worth living?

I traveled in Finland briefly, years ago. At the time I wasn’t so lonely, as I was with a man I was sure would be mine for life. But something he told me stuck me so oddly, and to this day echoes loneliness to me. He warned me that I should not smile to strangers on the street, as I normally do at home in the Midwest. Candidly, he told me that in so doing, the Finns would think me “simple.” Perhaps even “crazy.” Again, this sentiment has haunted me for years. How horribly lonely I would feel there, to not be able to share a smile and nod to a passerby. Not laugh with a stranger in the shops. It was heartbreaking to me then, as now.

For what better way can we show our love and support for each other, as humans, than to give of ourselves? The smallest token – a smile, a shared commiseration at the high price of lettuce that season, a door opened and held.

These are the things that matter, to me. To one person who feels alone and disconnected from the world. And who can’t help but wonder how many others in my small sphere of strangers, feels the same.

So I smile when the couple glances over. I ask questions of the older lady in the thrift-store. And yes, I joke with the man behind the Walgreen’s counter (and hope he’ll ask me out) – because I know what these small acts mean to me, and I hope in doing them, they’ll give a bit of ease to any loneliness those others are feeling. It is the least, and the most, I can do.


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