Christopher Hoult

Software engineer, actor, speaker, print designer

On Loneliness

I started this blog hoping to be a lot more profilic than I actually have been. I have quite a few topics to cover. But my lack of motivation has stymied that, although I take some slight comfort in this blog fulfilling the fate of numerous others. My piece of writing On Hills has been quite important to me, so here's another very personal piece.

I have had, for me, a rough couple of years. I've been through redundancy, death, breakup and more. All have taken their toll on me enough that, at the beginning of last year, I started counselling.

This was not easy for me. I am quite a closed person, emotionally; I rarely share and I always concentrate on how the listener will receive my words rather than on the expressing of them. As such, I hold things in. And they eat away at me.

Counselling has forced me to think about myself, to spend 50 minutes per week on me, and not avoiding me. I'm so very good at defeating myself that I've had to setup this obligation to ensure I take some self care. Or at least enough to start thinking about myself.

When I give a talk at a conference, I'm up there with all of the confidence in the world, owning the stage and - flattering myself - coming across as utterly self-assured. But I step off that stage and I shrink, back within my body. Waiting to be talked to, never doing the talking to.

I like to act in my spare time, and most of the time that skill is on show - I put across an image of a self-confident, personable individual who has everything in life sorted.

The thing is, I don't. I am profoundly lonely.

There, I've said it.

I am an awful friend; I'll do anything for you if you ask, but I will never reach out to you. I'll never ask you for help. You drop me a line and I'll reply happily but I'll never contact you out of the blue.

In truth, I'm scared. I don't know how to have friends. I don't know how to relate to individuals, even though I am one of the most empathetic and understanding people around. I'm always there, and never there.

When I access a group via a partner, or via a need, then when that partner or need goes away, I leave the group. I disappear, fade into the night. I struggle to understand that their friends can become my friends. That I'm actually liked or loved by individuals.

It's not that I want to disappear - it's just what I do. I don't reach out, and have this urge to be forgotten.

I have this unmet need - the need to be wanted, to be needed. I find myself desperately wanting attention, and never asking for it. Intellectually, I know that people like me, and that people want me. But emotionally, I struggle to accept and internalize this.

I am afraid of looking weak, of looking needy, of needing help. I want to be strong, to be the one who's protecting you, to be the one who can help you. But when things get too tough, and I find myself alone, I cry.

My fear stops me from going to events, from asking for help, and so I end up looking like I'm too busy to go to that thing, or to come to the pub.

So this is it: I need help.