We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness yet, but if we did, I would say that’s what I want in my life!

There really are only two profound tragedies of the human condition: Impermanence is one and Loneliness is the other. Impermanence is a tragedy of time, loneliness is a tragedy of space. Today I’m going to concentrate on Loneliness, and attempt to find its “opposite”.

We really must define the word “loneliness” before we can attempt to find the opposite. Loneliness is commonly articulated as the sensational byproduct of been physically, emotionally or mentally alone, or a mix of the above. So let’s take an example….you start a new job, you know nobody, you feel like a curious interloper from another planet thrown into a foreign culture. That’s close to Loneliness but still not quite right. You see real loneliness runs a lot deeper than that. It’s when you feel alone even when you aren’t actually alone. Let me explain.

Loneliness is about feeling like you don’t know anybody but more of a feeling like nobody knows you. So how does this manifest itself?

Do you describe your relationship with the world as a car in second gear? Loneliness is an unfulfilled desire for a connection with other humans. A loathing and resignation that directed inward…… kinda like an electrical voltage that sparks a connection but reversed and turned upon itself , paralyzing you the way a taser would.

Everyone loves wit, a compliment or good news. Bring enough of it to enough people and you’ll make them feel warm and fuzzy all over. (Its a great feeling) These are nearly a bullet proof way to be likable. Humans love to be made feel good. It’s a natural thing. Have you done this? Iv done this often…. in fact it is my default setting making people smile and laugh and then vanish into the ether.

I suspect you will believe me that this makes me a hit at parties and social gatherings, and also surprisingly awkward. Here’s the thing….A lot of likable people are completely lonely.

Now let’s talk social media. We craft these social networks and (supposedly) gleefully overshare in the hopes that somebody, anybody will relate to us. We need the connection. Your network could be one, two or three thousand people that you consider friends, or sought out an avalanche of hearts and likes on a professionally candid photo, or a status that doubles as an epic description of your success. Occasionally you will receive the validation and it momentarily makes you feel less lonely. But when all reaction is current, and all reaction is superficial , self loathing and self doubt and the other two horse men of the self- apocalypse ride into our virtual town. Is this a precursor for becoming less lonely?

Your so vulnerable and brave my friends say to me. It takes a lot of courage to bleed onto the keyboard for all to see.

Ahh….. but the masses have been dubbed. What I choose to share with people isn’t an expression of any sort of emotional vulnerability. I am broadcasting, a far less emotional or risky endeavor than conversation. Broadcasting things probably makes you worth listing to, but only a conversation can confirm to people that your worth knowing. So to become someone worth knowing this requires reciprocity and vulnerability. It also requires actual investment of emotional capital into people you wish to know. And there’s only a fixed amount allotted for distribution, in a deeper way than taking 15 seconds to “like” and comment .

To keep up actual friendship it requires resources. To be someone worth knowing requires “real” human interaction. You have to have conversations beyond social media. Expressing your differences, changing peoples minds, passionately defending the points that defend our character. Asking for and offering favors. This is what makes this life worth living. Agree?

When we’re lonely what are we craving ? We are craving more connecting NOT more connections!

The opposite of loneliness is intimacy

the act of revealing your whole true self to someone else and having them reciprocate It is something you can only do one-on-one, face-to-face, soul-to-soul. Intimacy is lots of things, an act of love, an act of self-love, an act of defiance all in one. It’s gritty, emotional, raw, unfiltered, unabashed, unpretentious and even unguarded. It’s like talking about things together. It’s also about being and about becoming things together.

What are we in this world if not connectable interlocking parts? What is-the point in having joy, suffering, talent and wisdom if not to be shared and imparted? A sole is not a silo, a mind is not a mine. We worship, learn, aid, sing, dance, watch, call, visit, fuck, create, talk, run, love, try, read, write to bring ourselves closer. To make whole what we lack in the emptiness of loneliness. I believe a heart unbroken is a life unwatered, and I believe a dream undashed is a life unlived. I also believe….To play safe,to play solo is to play a fools game. We may very well find success in rising above the rest, but we can only win by lifting up others. That requires intimacy. Intimacy requires the courage to make enemies, equally as easily as we make friends.

And this is how we beat back the gray twilight of loneliness and we find ourselves in the company of those we’ve challenged to truly see and accept us for who we are. Its like a game of emotional and intellectual catch where neither drops the ball. It is transcendent, and it is the momentary defeat of our uniquely human tragedy.

Embracing Your Physical Self

It was only in my mid 30’s when I first realised how much my sexuality influences my sense of self. Sex it turns out, was a form of expression I was rather interested in. Oddly enough, that’s when my then partner accused me: “all you care about is sex” He said this because he did not want a sexual component in our relationship at all. A perfectly fine thing, if partners agree. However not an option for me.

The confusion he had over his own feelings about sex in relationships unfortunately triggered a lot of confusion for me. The shame I felt over this was immense- I internalised his words about how valuing sex as highly as an emotion or mental connection was primitive, stupid. I began to deny that I was physical person at all, and a part of me was squared away in a box with a label attached to it saying “do not touch” A far cry from liberation!

Only more recently have I admitted the truth to myself: I am not an idiot for been a physical, sexual human-being. My physicality is an active part of my identity. Now I am rediscovering my body in all new ways. It’s exciting. I am finally paying attention to it, rather than dismissing it out of hand for the “superiority” of my mind. The mind is a powerful thing but living entirely in ones own head is also dangerous. Our true self is something that I think can only really be understood and explored if we are balanced in mind, body and spirit.

It is in this vein that I began to reflect on what “liberation” really means. Its something that gets bandied about quite a lot. We all know someone who after a few beers think they are super woke and sexually free and “get it”. But what does liberation really mean? I guess it might mean so many different things for so many people but here is what I think it means.

Its about Openness

Been open Minded doesn’t come naturally to everyone and fear around the physical realm (the vulnerability required and pressure of “performing” to exceptions) can be daunting. I have friends who can not even say the word “sex” when its not a word we should have a fear of. If you are afraid of the word then how can you be open in the act? People are contradictions, in the end. There are many factors that overlap with sex- culture, sexual orientation, religion, media, just to name a few. We absorb all these things, alongside information about gender roles, along side ageism and ableism and everything else that aims to hold some bodies above others for particular kinds of pleasure. Untangling these things to figure where true desire and pleasure starts and finishes is really rather tricky. However not impossible. But without a sense of been open and ready to explore, real pleasure is very hard to achieve. Almost impossible.

I have done my best to eliminate assumptions about what my body is here to do on this earth. However its here to do many things, not all to do with my sexuality, nor all to do with my thoughts.

Liberation requires openness to begin down the road of discovery.

Its about self awareness

Self-awareness is a challenge in a lot of aspects of life. Let alone in the sexual sphere, where internalised shame can do so much damage. Its not news, that women understand even less about their own pleasure than men often do, what with masturbation being something utterly undiscussed. Shame! And at the same time there is an unreasonable expectation that men are meant to understand it all perfectly (when of course they don’t) which makes it hard for them to ask questions as well. Its the blind leading the blind. Or rather, nobody leading anyone- everyone pretending everything/anything is fine ( and I know all about pretending, but thats another blog) a system that benefits no-one.

We have to explore, we have to ask questions, we have to experiment. A sense of trust is important, (this can be difficult for some people) and becomes very important if others are involved.

Its about communication

A straight friend of mine told me that he considered sex to be worthwhile even without helping his partner achieve an orgasm. Now I don’t think sex is about orgasm-but orgasm is a fairly important part of it for a lot of people. It is for me. It speaks to the age-old assumptions that female pleasure isn’t quite so important. The partner he imagines as sufficiently pleased by a lack of orgasm is a partner who hasn’t ever spoken for herself. I’d love to know her point of view on this matter. In essence it felt as though there was an assumption about male versus female “needs”. But the reality is what ever gender you are, the needs of your partner are something you must discuss together. And given the huge assumption that exists about male orgasm (that it is “final”-it signals the end point of a heterosexual sexual encounters) its even more important that this is discussed. Orgasm is important, and female orgasm is not so much mysterious as it is undervalued, but the emphasis on male ejacualion is problematic also. The pressure for one partner to dole out pleasure, take pleasure, initiate and finalise the encounter, is far too great a task. However much of this is been dismantled with time. Again, it comes back to peoples expectations and the pressure applied to achieve absolutes that are grounded in stereotype and assumptions, in an arena where absolutes does not exist.

Sensuality is often fluid. The things we like will probably change. Our bodies are not machines, and they don’t always act as we expect them to. We have to learn how to communicate our needs to our partner and give our partner an opportunity to express theirs, in order to experience liberation- completely, and to ensure we don’t suppress our partners, either.

Its about choice

In an excellent episode of the Sexually Liberate Woman podcast, Ev’Yan Whitney Jaliessa Sipress, who at one point in her podcast says:

If you are been fulfilled by vanilla sex, then you should do that. You know what I mean? just because you are a sex educator does not mean that you have to try every flavour in the ice cream shop…..

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”
Orson Welles

 

I know I go on and on about lunches in Ryans Bar Navan. But it simply is the best lunch in town. Simple honest food that tastes great. The added bonus is the service is fast and efficient. The coffee is great too. Of course a little sing song from Mick Ryan when he passes your table is generally welcome.

Dining by myself or with clients, friends or family Ryans is where I go.

 

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In August I was in Mayo and done a couple of the local Loop walks. I really love a good loop walk especially when the views are great. Where better than the Wild Atlantic Way?

The first one was the Erris Loop Walk. Its only 5km but the views were impressive. Its not a hard walk. I done this with my mom so we took it nice and easy and enjoyed each others company and the Wild Atlantic views.

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The next walk was the burrishoole walk. There are a few choices to choose from but I took the longest one, only 10km. Took just over 2hours to complete, some heavy hill climbing in places but the views are worth it.

Its bog tracks, country lanes and stone surfaced tracts. Great views of clew bay and Croagh Patrick as backdrop to the south and Nephew Big mountain range to the north

If you find yourself in Mayo with a few hours to yourself I would definitely recommend these walks. The peace and quite is simply so good for your mind soul and body.

There’s no place like home. I love when I plan a trip to Mayo. Apart from seeing my beautiful family, I really enjoy the scenery, the beaches, the peace and quite and the wildness of the Wild Atlantic.

This trip wasn’t unlike any other with the exception that we were planning to cycle some the Green Way. Unfortunately it was too windy. So instead we done Claggan Mountain Coastal Trail followed by the Ballycroy National Park walk. Both are very easy and quick walks but the Wind from the Wild Atlantic definitely make it more fun.

The views are amazing but on the dull day that we got, you can’t really see how beautiful it is.

Onto the Ballycroy National Park. We were advised not to climb up to the top, as it was to windy and dangerous but the rebel inside me wouldn’t listen. This walk is only about 20-30mins, very easy to do. The views are incredible. For me there is no better feeling than enjoying complete quietness. I love having time to dream, enjoying peace and the wonders of the sea, the mountains and fresh air.

Mayo is a beautiful county, it’s my home and there is no where in the world that is this special to me.