How do people cope with loneliness?
In a previous section I had described some other research that suggested several ways in which individuals cope with loneliness. There is some overlap between what was said there and what will be said here. However, these give more specific examples and in some cases unique examples of how individuals cope with loneliness.
The most frequent way that people coped with feelings of loneliness, as mentioned in the poems, was by imagining having someone there. In some cases it was romanticized, having the knight in shining armor coming to rescue them from their loneliness, or having the perfect lover or friend. In other cases though, it was just something more general, just to have someone there to share our thoughts and feelings with, having someone to care. Yet in other cases, the object of affection was very specific, and in such cases the poet was imagining that particular object of affection there next to them, picturing their face, their smell or their presence. All cases required that dreaming of that special someone, fantasizing in an attempt to fill the void of loneliness.
The second most frequent activity reported was crying. Pain is usually accompanied by tears, therefore loneliness would also be accompanied by tears.
Some lonely individuals cope with loneliness through hiding their feelings. In some cases it seemed to me as if the revelation of their feelings would result in ridicule or rejection. In other cases it seemed as if it were culturally inappropriate to reveal any sign of weakness like loneliness. Poets described being an actor or a "professional faker", wearing different masks so that people will not know what is going on underneath. It was also often described their experiences as a secret, like their "secret loneliness" or their "secret tears".
Loneliness is also associated with periods of inactivity, such as lying in bed, sitting and thinking, curled up in a ball, etc. I feel that during the periods of inactivity, lonely individuals are deeply within their minds, either fantasizing about their perfect companion, or fantasizing about some other obsession (see next entry), or trying to make sense of their loneliness. In the feelings associated with loneliness section, I described that lonely individuals feel that they are lost or confused, having no direction or purpose. Very often in the poems, there would be the question of why me, why do I experience loneliness, what have I done to have this curse lain upon me. I feel that lonely individuals do spend quite a bit of time trying to make sense of their reality, trying to come to grips with this thing called loneliness. And doing this requires these periods of inactivity.
Loneliness has also been associated with daydreaming. I think that when the outside reality is too painful to live in, we can construct quite comprehensive, interior fantasy worlds. In these fantasy worlds we construct heroes and villains, we have our mythical stories to tell. We deny our outside reality, to live in an internal reality. Lonely individuals describe being able to pull into themselves, to escape from the present world, to go to a fantasy world, a dream world, an illusion. This interior world is our own little safety net in which we exist. Sometimes it becomes manifest in the books we read or the games we play, things to help fuel our interior fantasy world. At the same time both highly creative and highly destructive.
While some lonely individual may deal with the pain of loneliness by diving into a fantasy world, other individuals may think that their only way out is through death. Death is the only escape to loneliness. In my descriptions of the feelings associated with loneliness, I also described that there can be feelings of being out of control. That is, that loneliness seems to have a life of its own and can trap us into feeling lonely all the time, that it is inescapable. It is no wonder therefore that some of us can feel like the only way we can overcome loneliness is to commit suicide. I WOULD STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT ANYONE WHO IS FEELING THIS WAY, TALK TO SOMEONE ESPECIALLY A COUNSELOR OR PROFESSIONAL WHO CAN HELP THEM DEAL WITH THESE EMOTIONS. Loneliness can be overcome, even if you feel like you cannot escape it, there is a way out, others have done it before you and you can too.
Religious coping is another way of dealing with loneliness. And it is not necessarily as elaborate as you think. In some instances, poets have made simple exclamations, like "oh god", and others have just being praying for help, praying for the perfect person to come into their life, praying for a miracle. Yet others have advocated a stronger use of religion claiming that for them it has help them to overcome their loneliness.
The last notable coping strategy that I found in my analysis of the poems is sleeping. Some people use sleeping as a means of escaping their loneliness. Sometimes it was in the hopes that tomorrow or whenever they wake up again will be better that what went before.