By now you may feel (hopefully) that you’re getting to know a little more about me. My love for cats, leather, and all things sparkly are pretty apparent from my posts, but you may not know that my home life is a little different from most people I know. My husband, Todd, is a musician and has been a touring player for the last 11 years that I’ve known him (he currently plays guitar for Mutemath). Sometimes we have periods where the band is writing or recording and the tour schedule is a little lighter, but then we also have other seasons where he can be gone for 8-9 months out of the year. Ouch. So, for me, dealing with loneliness is a big (and ongoing) part of my life, and it took a few years for me to figure out how to deal with feeling alone.
I remember when I was in the middle of moving into and completely renovating our new house (all while Todd was out on a 3-month tour), and I hit some pretty low points during that period. I was stressed, physically exhausted, and pushed to my emotional limit. At one point, I had a full meltdown on my kitchen floor because I couldn't get the lawn mower to start, and I sat there, covered in lawn clippings, bawling my eyes out, feeling completely alone. Obviously, you don’t have to have a traveling spouse to feel lonely at times and these suggestions are just my opinion (they may not strike a chord with everyone), but these are the ways that I’ve learned to keep my chin up and face feeling lonely head-on: Keep busy: I have to admit that working on my master's degree during the height of Todd’s touring seasons was actually one of the best things for me. I was honestly too busy to be sad or lonely; I just didn’t have the time! I don’t suggest this idea as a way to completely avoid or try to stuff your emotions deep down (that’s not emotionally healthy either), but when you are involved in things that you enjoy and challenge you, your focus shifts from negative thoughts to positive ones. Set a goal or make a challenge for yourself to fulfill. You could spend more time on art projects, train to run a race, renovate a room in your house, learn to cook, volunteer, or even start blogging. Trying to combat loneliness is one reason that I started my own blog last year. I was done with my master's degree and had free time on my hands that wasn’t getting invested into anything else, so I knew I needed another project to direct my energy into. Sometimes I’ll save a big project I’m looking forward to (like a room renovation) for a time I know Todd will be gone for a bit—it gives me something to look forward to and adds some exciting thoughts to my bummed-out ones. It doesn’t always have to be the same venture, so feel free to switch up your projects every so often as the thought or opportunity presents itself.
Lean on a support network (but not too much): Unfortunately, I don’t have the physical presence of my family in town to lean on when Todd is gone (although they are great at phone support!), but I am blessed to have lots of great friends that I know I can count on if I’m feeling a little down. But as tempting as it can be to make a call and hang out with someone anytime I feel a bit blue, I don’t want to be totally dependent on my friends to cure my loneliness every time I feel alone—that’s ultimately my job to deal with those feelings, not just their job. And yes, sometimes being with people you love lifts your spirit like nothing else can, but don’t make your friends and family to be the only cure for your blues every time. What if they are busy or unavailable? They have their own lives and struggles to deal with sometimes, and it can put a lot of pressure on others if they feel that they are your sole source of strength. So make your loved ones an important part of your support network, but not the only part. Watch out for “bad habit” coping skills: This one can be a big deal depending on what your bad habit is. It’s possible that your bad habit may be a genuinely unhealthy action that’s brought out when you feel upset or stressed, but most of the time it’s a normal thing that gets taken to the extreme when you feel down (like eating tons of junk food when you feel upset). While I’m also totally guilty when it comes to lonely sessions of Taco Bell and Cheez-It eating, my personal bad habit is going shopping and spending more than I normally would just because I feel lonely (and also because I just love shopping). Most people can pinpoint their bad habits pretty quickly, so just make sure to keep an eye on that negative coping skill to keep the activities you enjoy at a healthy level.
Get a furry friend (or two!): I have to say that this suggestion is a big deal for me. Not everyone is a pet person (and I know not every pet is furry), but getting my oldest cat Charlie during one of Todd’s three-month tours was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The house felt so empty and lifeless when I was home alone, but the moment she stepped out of her carrier when I brought her home from the Humane Society, I knew that was about to change. Now your apartment or rental may not allow certain kinds of animals, but there’s just something about having another heartbeat around the house that is so comforting, so if you can, I would totally recommend an animal buddy. We have two cats now (we just adopted another rambunctious kitten named Mac), so I always have someone fuzzy that wants to cuddle when I’m alone at home, and I love it. Even when I feel lonely now, it’s not nearly as strong a feeling as it was before I had those fur babies.
Embrace being alone: Okay, I know I just suggested getting a pet so you don’t have to be alone all the time, but let’s face it: As great as pets are, it’s not always quite the same as being with another human being (especially if you are missing a specific human being). Even with my projects and goals, friends and family, and kitties, I still feel lonely at times when Todd is gone. But you know what? That’s okay! Loneliness creeps in when we want to feel connected to others (but don’t at that moment), and with our Internet and social-media-obsessed culture, it can be an especially uncomfortable feeling to realize you’re disconnected. But that feeling doesn’t have to be a negative if you can take it as a time to breathe and reconnect with yourself. Being an introvert, I draw my strength from times of being quiet and alone, and I can use that alone time to unpack my worries and breathe a bit. And if you feel really bummed and just can’t move past the feeling, it’s okay to let that out too! Sometimes I just need to allow myself to feel sad for a moment, have a good cry to release the emotional build-up, and then wipe my eyes and move onto something I enjoy. Overall, if loneliness is something that you deal with a lot, learning how to deal with those feelings when they come up can really improve your overall quality of life and keep you on a positive path. What are your tips for dealing with loneliness? xo. Laura
Credits// Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Stella from the Signature Collection.
My name is James and I am the founder of The Recovery Letters Project and the co-editor of the same titled book on depression. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Recovery-Letters-James-Withey/dp/1785921835 which has been selected as a World Book Night title 2108.
I am working on a follow up book about loneliness using the same format of letters written by people who have experienced a particular issue, addressed to those struggling now.
Would you be interested in submitting a letter for the book? I love this blog!
Do send me an e-mail if this something you’d like to do and can tell you more.
Very best wishes,
I love my spouse .hes awesome!
i just have noone that calls me or anything, its not an exaggeration. Noone! I feel like sleeping all the time . And i do, literally sleep my life away. I wait for Saturday each week, then hes off of work with me.
Im tired of lonely. For real!!!
Ive tried here;people are so different than where im from. Im from warm welcoming friendly. Here folks are not the same. Its more standoffish cold here. Like, “stranger alert” is blinking over my head .
I dont know what to do, i miss having friends, family, church friends. Again, ive been trying.
Any suggestions? Any help would be appreciated!!! Thanks so much for listening!
And thanks for blogging !!
Im 600 miles from my home state, been here for 6+ months.
Ive been alone since 2013.
Nearly completely. I did get married 10 mos ago. But, he works from morning til midnight. Everyday. Just got out of army 4 mos. ago. His family lives far away.
My son went to live with his dad: his choice ofcoarse. But doesnt even say hello to me anymore, its been months, he wont respond to texts or calls.
My family all went away after mother deceased. No communication at all. Anyways, here i am , isolated. No support system. Some days loneliness is unbearable.
Such a beautiful piece! I can relate to it myself as I have started working from home and have to deal with periods that I have to entertain myself on my own. While sometimes loneliness gets to me, other times, I just keep myself busy. If nothing helps, watching a series is my best way out.
These are great tips! I think you completely covered it. Today’s culture is so fast-paced & distracted; it seems that if I have any time alone when out in public, I instantly go to my phone or something to distract me. Solitude is something we really should look at differently. It’s hard to get into the mindset, but so worthwhile.
Thanks so much for this post, as I find myself thinking about it often and re-reading to remind myself that I’m not alone! There are so many of us “band wives” out there. My man of 3 years has been touring for almost 10 years now, and he’s not slowing down anytime soon. Not many people understand how different our relationships are, due to their constant touring and then an overnight shift to them being home 24/7. I find myself feeling very lonely and hopeless more often than I like, so I cope with regular ladies nights, gardening, binge watching Parenthood and re-arranging the house. Oh and I can’t forget my pup, Cooper! He’s my little angel.
Anyway, thanks again! You’re an inspiring woman, Laura!
Just found your blog, you have some great projects!!
My husband travels every week for work, leaving Sun/Mon and coming back Fri/Sat. I have learned to embrace the lonliness, and learned to like just hanging out with myself (I am also an introvert, so our home/sanctuary is where I look forward to recharging). Our culture is so go-go-go and moving from HS to college to jobs doesn’t allow our young adults to adjust to being alone, to learn to like yourself. The pets part is important (they are counting on you, so you can’t flake out when you’re sad). The keeping busy part is huge: gym, crafts, home projects, etc. We have learned so much about ourselves since he and I started this journey 10yrs ago, esp communication. I think it has made us so much stronger.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!!
I was in the same boat. Husband gone on tour for most of the year with his band, The Dear Hunter. I had the same bad habits, spending too much because i was lonely, and crying on the kitchen floor sounds extremely familiar… Unfortunately, though we loved each other, his career won out. Even when he was home he was never “there” anymore, always working on another musical venture outside of his main band. Either producing, writing music with other people, just constant projects. I was okay with him being physically away, I learned to deal with the loneliness, we had two dogs and I had projects of my own, but there was no time left in his life for us. I left him this past fall, and even though it’s been really hard, and I miss that part of my life, supporting him at his shows, touring and traveling with him, I’m excited to finally be able to have some sort of “normal” life. I’m really happy that you’ve found a good balance, I know how difficult it can be in a relationship like that.
These tips are amazing!!
Thank you for your sincerity on this post, it is quite helpful. But in my opinion it is not the same to deal with being alone knowing that you have someone to wait for than being alone on your own, specially when everyone else arround you are on a couple.
Although I still think your tips are still good in any case. Learn to be alone is an important lesson to learn in life.
So thank you very much again.
PS: I love your cats!!
I recently started working on my photography business full time. Thanks for the tips, these are wonderful!
Great post with incredibly mature insights! Best of luck to you and your hubby during those lonely seasons. Without a doubt it will strengthen you and your marriage!
Very helpful tips! My boyfriend and I live a few hours apart, and being in school and working makes it difficult to see each other more than every three weeks or so. I’ve always been an introvert and it’s comforting to hear that I can reconnect with myself during those times of loneliness!
YUP, I am in the lonely gal category. My man is a Marine, and deploys frequently. I feel frustrated, sad, angry…and then I work myself slowly through the steps above. I would also have to say finding an outlet to DEAL with the emotions is positive too. Write. Paint. Take yoga. Instead of pushing for every new idea, I also sit with my feelings and acknowledge them, and then remind myself that I have a choice to have a great day or a sad one. I choose positive and great more than sad and lonely;) This post struck a chord with me as we are marching toward another one here soon, and counting down the days for separation, but I’m also counting down days to get the focus all on ME for awhile, and that will be nice too.
Thank you for putting this out there. It’s difficult for me to talk about being lonely because I feel like it exposes my vulnerability, but knowing that others go through the same thing is really reassuring. My boyfriend of almost 5 years and I have had a long distance relationship for most of our time together. I/we’ve had our ups and downs, and it’s difficult sometimes to get past those emotional humps. I agree that it’s important to stay busy and allow yourself to feel sad, but also push yourself to move on from those feelings. Recently, I started a Master’s program and it’s been very fulfilling, and has helped our relationship in a positive way. I guess the end lesson is that loneliness is only temporary and it’s important to understand how to cope with it. Thank you for bringing it up.
SO good. It’s so true, you need to learn to be okay with being alone but allow yourself those moments where you need a good cry. Thank you for sharing.
p.s. LOVE MUTEMATH!! Who would have known.
Brilliant. I’m a military spouse, and this is precisely the way I handle things. Thanks for writing everything so succinctly and sharing!
I have a few books/shows/movies that I know always will make me feel better (even if it’s only a little bit); some of them are things that both me and my guy are into (like Game of Thrones and the Song of Ice and Fire books), but a lot of them are just silly or fun (Harry Potter, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and The Emperor’s New Groove are a few favourite ones of mine 🙂
Your husband plays guitar for Mutemath? That’s really cool. I saw them in concert back in 2011. The lead singer lost his voice so they had to improvise and do only instrumental. It was still pretty sweet. 🙂