Lonely shepherd found dead ‘after having sex with a scarecrow’. She read this news about this guy in Argentina. At the news, many laughed, many joked, many unleashed their best witty comments, but at least the man did not assault any fresh and blood woman to satisfy his basic instinct. Maybe he still had some sanity in his madness, or in the cruel loneliness of his life…
She then closed her eyes, lying in her bed wrapped up in the sticky cocoon of her own ugly loneliness, bracing herself to keep warm, or could it be to feel safe?
There’s again this feeling she’s going to wander about in that thick unknown smog all day, invisible to the others. The ceiling seems to be crashing down onto her, the walls, those familiar walls designed in her imagination as a giant size coffin, o so familiar claustrophobic feeling, but nonetheless scary.
The humming of the cars outside, the song of the birds, the sound of her snoring neighbour, a door that shuts, sum up her vibrant interaction with the living world.
Loneliness is soundproof, because people cannot hear it. Loneliness is waterproof, because it doesn’t let the source of life in, it dries you up. Loneliness is nothingness. It’s the emptiness of an empty nest, perched up on top of a giant tree. The canopy is her green line of separation from the living world. She hangs on there where the oxygen is rare. Just one faux-pas and the fall could be deadly. Immensely terrifying, but not so as her life. There’s nothing up there; it’s lonely here; it burns during the day and it freezes at night.There is no in between. Maybe she would have liked to have a scarecrow up there, just to have someone to talk to. The illusion of connecting with a human figure, imagining it’s alive. When she dies, how many will attend her funeral? Ten people maybe?
Loneliness is a creeper. It’s tenacious, like weeds you can’t get rid of. First time she has had a taste of it, was a few years ago. She had made a decision. She had left. She had flown to an unknown place. She had everything ready for a new life to start afresh.Though exciting at the beginning, all of a sudden, the enchanting unknown place became a very lonely place. She remembered having being let down by the only person she knew. It was like being suddenly forced into retreating inside the cell of a cold monastery with nothing to hang on to but her lost soul. She remembered she had cried everyday, spending hours engulfed in her solitude for almost three months. Missing her children, her family, often thinking aloud like somebody who has just killed someone they loved: ‘What have I done? What have I done?”… Inside, she was consumed with a deep sadness.
She is not at all a bible reader, but she randomly stumbled upon this psalm, a psalm that nailed her loneliness, that very feeling that was crucifying her love for life and connecting with people:
My life is consumed with sadness;
my years are consumed with groaning.
Strength fails me because of my suffering;
my bones dry up.
I’m a joke to all my enemies,
still worse to my neighbors.
I scare my friends,
and whoever sees me in the street runs away!
I am forgotten, like I’m dead,
completely out of mind;
I am like a piece of pottery, destroyed.
Psalm 31: 10-12
The lonely version of herself was not pretty, but she would cope, she would smile to the cashier at the till – in fact it was the only person she would speak to or at least say a couple of words for nearly three months: ”Hi”… and ”Thank you”… This was it. To her far away family and friends she would speak on the phone to she said everything was great and fine here, simply fantastic! Truth is, she was on the verge of breaking down, feeling miserable. All she wanted was to hibernate in her cave for a few months, hoping when she would be coming out, the outside world would be much warmer and more welcoming.
At that time, she had money. She could have gone regularly to nice restaurants or pubs and talked to random strangers. She tried once. It was awfully worse as her loneliness was made more obvious by looking at couples having dinner, groups of friends laughing together or loud people having a ball. The truth is, in this city, no-one talks to a random stranger, she was invisible. People go out with their own people. They’ve known each other from university or even from nursery school and their circle is unbreakable. She felt like an unsettled and unwanted alien or a demon wanting to penetrate their sacred circle. She could have rejoiced herself and thought that at least she was free in a majestic city when there was no curfew, no bombing. Except that her life in the city was being bombarded with fiery loneliness attacks.
Countless times she repeated to herself ”be strong, this shall pass, be strong…”. Easier said than done. Try to imagine being from a small African village, living in a community like any other and then suddenly you decide to parachute yourself over to the North Pole. Conscious decision-making. The air is pure, it’s beautiful up there. Thrilling! But…the community of penguins is far from being welcoming, and so is the icy deep sea world. She ended up wandering about like a headless chicken on the ice-floe. The feeling of isolation was throat-cutting, her head wanted to be somewhere she could belong to but her body wouldn’t know where to go, so best was to cultivate her invisibility.
She gradually slipped into a place of a very quiet world, not asking much about life, just food, books to read and a job to meet new people. The job didn’t come but thanks to her boy who came over to brighten her life, she eventually joined a group of fun people and she smiled to life again. She felt good after her more than 100 days of complete solitude, eclipsed from the Big World, that very world that was there at her door, but that she wasn’t part of. Not only after tying new bonds of friendship she learned to laugh again, but she also decided, following some friends’ advice that she might want to sign up on a dating site. So she did. At first it was exciting to see she could stir up attention and meet new persons of interest. Little did she know she was clinging on to dead branches. The guys she met were as alone as she was. Still, she tried hard to create or made up the love that was desperately absent from her life. In all honesty, she put herself in a place where she was the scarecrow herself, although nobody died during the experiment. Only her hope faded and faded. Until she met him. He was the one. She was sure. It was like something she had always imagined was eventually coming true. She felt fulfilled having met that someone who didn’t complete her but complement her. It had been long due. Loneliness was just a story of the past, happiness was hers now. It was real and she could almost grasp it during every second she breathed. A magic and fated encounter, one of a lifetime. She even asked herself if she did deserve such an amount of happiness. That was unreal but so real at the same time. He was there, loving and adoring her, promising her the world and eternal happiness. She, in return, would pour joy, fun and love into his life. Alas, the beautiful world crumbled down a few months after, leaving her with a deadly void. Loneliness was hammering again at her door like an hideous ghostly figure from the past. She decided she would fill in the void not to let herself eaten alive by loneliness again. Treacherous suffering. Dark days. Mental earthquake. Some voracious men came to occupy her thoughts, eat in her kitchen, drink in her glass, sleep in her bed but she wouldn’t let one of them sink into her heart. She wouldn’t let them, she just hated them. They were just mere instruments in the orchestra in which she was the conductor of her own disharmonious, shapeless, ill-rounded life.
But loneliness was not only brought to her by the lack of love. Sadly, the lack of money has also been a determining factor in her lonely life. When she had money she could go out with friends, meet up for a drink, invite them over for a fun party or dinner. Now that she has been on a very tight budget for years, in survival mode, loneliness has taken its toll again. She would have thought that people she knew would have come and visit her. At least she could have offered a coffee and some biscuits. But people keep up with their busy life, their keep going out and having fun. It’s just it did happen, but without her. Not that she was unwanted but she wasn’t able to partake in anything.
One day she decided to attend a free event, a walk in the hills with a group of unknown people. First, she realised she had no decent trainers or shoes to go walking and that she couldn’t afford to buy a new pair, even a used one in a charity shop. Still, she decided to go with what she had. The majority of the people who were there were over 60, either couples or small groups of friends. They talked to each other and plainly ignored her in what turned out to be a painful experience of a two long hour walk of solitude.
She rarely sees people. It has happened 4 or 5 times over the 8 last months. Loneliness is a scary thing and maybe the scarecrow this man dolled-up is just a reflection of her own life when she gets that fleeting thought she would do anything to have it again, to create an imaginary friend just to feel alive.
Now she has the strange feeling that her loneliness is her faithful and fated companion, one that sticks to her like a familiar shadow. The shadow side of her, the one she has learned to live with, the one she has tamed despite all odds. She didn’t deserved it, but she earned it. She doesn’t blame the others who are either too busy getting on with their own life or either they don’t know this shadow is as heavy as a burden weighing one ton. She doesn’t blame the others for her loneliness. So maybe next time one of them will ask her out she may well reply: ”I’m sorry, I can’t. I’m too busy f*****g with my solitude…”