Help! I Have No One to Talk To

Ever since my dad died last year, I have had no one to talk to. And really, I had no one to talk to for the last three years of his life, ravaged as he was by Alzheimer’s.

I don’t have any other family. I have no close friends, no husband or boyfriend, and no children. It’s just me and my constant companions: emptiness, loneliness, and my 8-year-old dog Roxie. When she goes, my life will truly be meaningless. Sometimes I hope she outlives me. If God had told me this would be my life, I would have stayed put.

I’m not kidding when I say I can go three or four days without saying a word to anyone. I write, but it’s just for me (except this letter). Writing is like talking to myself, so that’s something, I guess. And it keeps me from losing track of language altogether. Sometimes I feel like I’m starting to lose my mind the way Dad did.

So now that you know how pathetic my life is, go ahead and tell me there is “hope” if only I do this, that, and the other thing. I probably won’t believe you, but I wouldn’t be writing if I had given up completely. —In Solitary

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Dear Solitary,

Your letter inspires my curiosity, not my advice. I’m not going to tell you to do anything because I believe you already know what to do—you’re just not ready. Perhaps you’re too mad or too sad. Both, maybe? What I will say is caring for your dad for three years took a lot out of you. You’re flattened, your energy seemingly used up.

It’s time for renewal. I think that’s why you wrote this letter. I don’t know what you do to care for yourself. I don’t know what you like to do, what you’d like to learn to do, or what you’d like to do differently, but you probably know the answers. Knowing what to do can be a lot easier than doing it, of course.

I’m not sure what you mean when you write, “If God had told me this would be my life, I would have stayed put.” Stayed put where? In a different house, job, city, state, state of existence? There are hints of hopelessness in your words, but there is always hope. Sometimes it helps when someone removed from your situation points it out. Speaking of hope, I hope you will consider working with a therapist for this reason. No good therapist is going to tell you what to do, but they will walk with you through the hardest parts until you see your own way forward.

Can you use your compassion and commitment for yourself, too? If not, why not?

Had you always lived with your father? Had you always lived the same way? You cared for your dad, Alzheimer’s and all, for three years. You know plenty about commitment and devotion to others. I wonder where and how you learned. Did someone once care for you that way? Can you use your compassion and commitment for yourself, too? If not, why not?

I have a lot of questions. Maybe too many. Do you ever question yourself? You write, so I’m guessing you do.

You are clearly lonely, but you know how to reach people if you want. You’ve put yourself in solitary confinement. I wonder what you’ve done to deserve this. Or what you think you’ve done.

Is it punishment or choice? Maybe you like having time alone, too. After all, you don’t have to take care of anybody except yourself and your dog.

You think your life is “pathetic”? I don’t think so. I think you’ve got plenty going for yourself. You just need to decide to use what you have.

Take care,

Lynn Somerstein, PhD, NCPsyA, C-IAYT

Lynn Somerstein
Lynn Somerstein, PhD, NCPsyA, C-IAYT is a Manhattan-based, licensed psychotherapist with more than 30 years in private practice. She is also a yoga teacher and student of Ayuveda—the Indian science of wellness. Her main interest is in helping people find healthy ways of living, loving, and working in the particular combination that works best for them, connecting to their deepest energic source so their full range of abilities can be expressed. Lynn's specialty is understanding and alleviating anxiety and depression.

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