If you read this blog with any kind of regularity, you’ve probably noticed by now that I’m a little bit…unusual? Between my magpie obsession, my lack of direction and wanting to wipe my brain like a hard drive, it’s fair to say that I err on the side of the slightly eccentric. However, I realised something about myself today that we can add to the ever-growing list of unusual pathological behaviors; I have an unusual aversion to loneliness.
Now, I appreciate than an aversion to loneliness in and of itself isn’t that unusual. As humans, we’re programmed to believe in safety in numbers and there’s been absolutely masses of research into the psychology and anthropology behind loneliness - according to Wikipedia “Loneliness has also been described as social pain — a psychological mechanism meant to alert an individual of isolation and motivate him/her to seek social connections”. Loneliness and our feeling about it are central to The Human Condition. But see, this is the thing – for me, it’s not just about humans…
Don’t get me wrong, I have a special pain in my heart and stomach that kicks in when I think about how many old people there are in the world who’ve been left on their own and feel a deep sense of loneliness, that’s all there. But this morning, whilst in the shower, I became deeply disturbed by the living arrangement of our toothbrushes. We have two glasses, mounted above the bathroom sink in which our dental care accouterments live. Today, mine and Husband’s brushes were in one glass with the toothpastes and Sausage’s was by itself in the other.
So I moved it.
I rearranged everything so that all three of our toothbrushes were in one glass, together, so that no one toothbrush got lonely. It moved me to significant enough sadness that I had to take action.
And now I sit and think about it, I do it with other things too. If I’m making beans or spaghetti on toast, I dutifully bang the bottom of the tin until every last bean or hoop falls from the tin. Not because I’m tight or greedy, simply because if that bean or hoop goes into the bin in a can by itself, it might get lonely. I genuinely have anxiety about lonely legumes.
I realise I’m probably really asking you to plumb the depths of your tolerance to sympathise with me here; the majority of you nice, sane people are probably wondering where the nearest loony bin is that I can be flung into, but I do wonder where this feeling comes from. As much as I’d never crave loneliness, I’m perfectly happy in my own company. I quite enjoy my drive to work, along the seafront, listening to BBC Radio 2, singing if I feel like it. At lunchtime, I try to get away from my desk if I can and have 5 minutes to myself. It’s not like I can’t stand to be alone.
Why do I rate the beans and hoops and toothbrushes more highly than myself, when it comes to company?
Answers on a postcard, dear readers…