Loneliness & Eccentricity

I spent six years of my twenties largely bedridden. The loneliness that accompanied that lockdown led to some morose thinking and weird behavior. For example, I’d go about in my favorite red-hearts boxer shorts instead of putting on proper clothing.

In isolation, it is easy for me to forget about my appearance and develop a general disregard for the social niceties. Being polite doesn’t come naturally to me, and without the prompts of social interaction, those muscles get weak.

I get extra weird when I’m not interacting with people. It is hard to see how weird one gets, right? It is hard to notice how one is eccentric. How are you eccentric? My weirdness and eccentricity chiefly reveals itself in anti-social and unnecessarily provocative comments. I do it to get a chuckle and have a brief bond. When I am in a good place, those comments are saved for the audience that appreciates them. When I am not in a good place, I am not as discriminating with my shock jock attitude.

When I am lonely, I become more desperate for attention, and this results in attention-seeking behavior, which usually strikes people as weird, and that makes me even more lonely. What is more challenging for me when I am lonely is to get centered, to do my 12-step work, to reconnect to God and to my purpose in life, and then when I feel at ease with myself and the universe, from that place, human connection flows easily. From a desperate needy place, human connection gets frazzled.

Because of the pandemic, I am not as social as I was previously. I am spending less time around others and more time reading books. Have you lost any social skills during the pandemic? Is there a weirdness and eccentricity that has crept into your behavior and tripped you up?

Relationships are so important that when we are alone, they are the thing we often think about. I have thoughts like, Oh, I wonder how Joe would react to this? Would Sandra get a good chuckle over this? I can’t wait to share this with Chaim.

What has helped to keep me sane during this pandemic is the phone, which I use to participate in 12-step meetings, to talk to sponsees, and to keep up with friends.

For many of my friends in Orthodox Judaism, shul on Shabbos morning is the highlight of their week. But with all the restrictions and dangers, many Jews are skipping this, or if they do participate, they don’t enjoy it as much.

I had a friend who started saying a bunch of anti-social things online but he was never that way when he was talking to me. It shows how much of an effect we can have on people — it can be large when we are directly engaging with someone, and then when we leave, the effect goes to zero.

I love this concept: “Intersubjectivity, in philosophy, psychology, sociology, and anthropology, is the psychological relation between people. It is usually used in contrast to solipsistic individual experience, emphasizing the inherent sociality of humans.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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