Living with the feeling that your life and existence mean very little to anyone at all can create a dangerous state of mind, only worsened by the idea that the reason for your loneliness is shameful. Those who are estranged are too often reminded of the isolating family myth - that everyone else in society is enjoying a functional and close family experience.
"Hey you. If you've got a problem, do something about it. Don't talk about it. Nobody cares." As a man, I've heard this before. All the time actually, and in several different ways. After a girlfriend cheated on me, when I was shattered and expressed a need to discuss it, a friend told me: "You need to stop talking and thinking about it right now. Nobody cares."
Lonely. The word hit me like a dull blow down the phone line. For a man of his years to admit to loneliness to someone he had not met and hardly spoken to before seemed beyond belief. I know elderly men: my grandfathers and their peers don't 'do' emotion, and would balk at sharing them - even with their nearest and dearest, let alone a stranger.
I had a conversation the other night with a gentleman in his 50's, who also admitted something similar. That he suffers from "loneliness". I was so sad upon hearing this. Vulnerability always does that to me. Moves me in inexplicable ways. A lot of us get lonely at times, yet we are often too afraid, or too embarrassed to admit it.
My sessions of talk therapy back at university helped my story telling. Every week, I'd walk through one of the colleges, past the restaurant where students were sitting and laughing with each other, past the duck pond where the college cat was watching hungrily from behind the bushes, to a door tucked away behind a wall -- Counselling.