project of Kristina Chimbaraite

Slim

Mila

Jay

Kristina

Tisho

Zach

Viktorija

Stefan

Nash

Rodi

Salma

Claudia

Diana

Alex

Eetu

Stefan.

country. Bulgaria

I’m 30 years old. Very proud and happy with my life. I have my own business that I really like. I enjoy being in nature and trying to have as many adventures as I can. Love my life, girlfriend, and friends!

What do you feel or imagine when you hear the word ‘loneliness’?

Okay, so… when I hear the word loneliness, I’m kinda feeling and imagining myself alone in a physical way on one hand and on the other hand which maybe is the worst-case scenario – to feel alone between all of the other people. So for me, it is an intense feeling that makes me confuse what actually this can give me because in my life I was always trying to search for the good reason in bad feelings that happened to me, and I guess will happen to me. So, yes, it's confusing and hard to say what exactly every single one of us can feel, but according to me, it’s confusing. It’s scary too. And it feels kinda scary when I hear this word and… maybe it depends on the situation. 

Okay. I would like you to go back to the first moment when you recognised or you felt lonely or the most memorable experience of loneliness. Whatever feels more comfortable for you to share. 

Okay, so, maybe a couple of years ago I was in a period of my life when the things did not seem so pink and so happy and I was kinda living just day by day, and I was always trying to escape somehow from myself and from people that were surrounding me because I was actually feeling really lonely. I don’t remember the exact trigger that gave me that strength and idea to try to work for myself, and try to escape from that feeling of loneliness and maybe not to lose hope, so I started to go for really long trips alone in the mountains. 

And maybe that was the moment when I realised that being alone is not that bad as we usually see it. Being alone in the mountains and trying to put myself in a place that is not typically happening to other people. Because usually we go by pairs or in a company just to feel comfortable and safe, but from that period of my life I preferred to go by myself. To the most remote place I could find just to try to escape that loneliness and find myself. Maybe that was the period of my life I’m referring to. 

"I really felt that loneliness inside me and I was trying to get comfortable again, and I just took some stuff in my backpack, took my bike and I went to Borovets resort and had an idea to go to the peak during the night time"

Typically it was happening on foot, but from time to time I was taking my bike and maybe the most exciting moment for me was 2 years ago when I tried to go to the highest peak in Bulgaria, to Musala. It was minus 10 degrees and it was a bad day for me. I really felt that loneliness inside me and I was trying to get comfortable again, and I just took some stuff in my backpack, took my bike and I went to Borovets resort and had an idea to go to the peak during the night time. I was taking antibiotics because I was kind of ill in that period. It was really stupid. But the moment when I just parked my car, took my bike, put on my helmet and everything and just started to ride… 

It was really really really cold, getting around minus 10 and minus 15 degrees, and it was so quiet and so freezing. I was able to hear my own thoughts, my own voice inside my head. And it was really painful, because of the cold you’re sweating and you’re hot, but outside it’s really cold. And I was pretty exhausted, that pills I was taking… my body was it was kind of a complete mess, it was not working well. But after a couple of hours of crawling, screaming from time to time and crying from time to time, of course, I was finally able to reach the point I was aiming to. And the thing that I remember was that I was trying to sit on one big rock, and I was so exhausted and really wanted to go someplace warmer and I wanted to feel like home. But of course, it was not possible at that moment. But never the less when I've reached this exact rock, and it's still there, I remember it kind of felt very warm and like a nice place to be. Although it was really, like I said around minus 15, I just sat on the rock, saw my bike, saw where I was placing, it was 3 or 4 in the morning, completely dark, completely cold, wet, but the weather started to clean and all the stars were already on the horizon, on the sky. And I just felt very good. It was a moment when my feeling of loneliness just disappeared. I felt that yes I’m alone, but I’m in the most beautiful place for me in the whole world, doing the thing I love, being the thing I love. And it was really cold, but for me, at that moment on the rock I felt that something changed, and it was kind of a breaking point in me, and maybe after that I never allowed myself to feel this kind of really consuming loneliness ever again. 

"I just sat on the rock, saw my bike, saw where I was placing, it was 3 or 4 in the morning, completely dark, completely cold, wet, but the weather started to clean and all the stars were already on the horizon, on the sky. And I just felt very good"

At least I'm trying to do that because I realised that it's not necessary to put myself to all that dangerous and stupid situations anymore. Especially by myself, because after all, I have friends, I have family, I have people I love and people who love me. So it was like a crack that showed me that life is good, that loneliness is something that… Yeah, okay a lot of people are lonely, but we have to search the good. And the point of being in that situation is that it can lead you to something that actually can make you happy. So yeah…

Did you feel that loneliness that happened before was coming from the inside or, for example, for me, and I realised it only after several years I was thinking that it was happening because of external events, because of people, because of the whole world that was against me, when actually it was me against the whole world, I was isolating myself. Was it the same or was it something really happening, some events which triggered tour feelings? 

Well, it’s kind of the same. And I said kind of because at those parts and moments of my life I was actually living by myself, the business was all by myself. In the morning I was alone at work, during the evening I was alone at home, I did not have free time to go to hang out with my friends and just have some fun. And maybe that kind of routine started to consume me. And I was having like an armour to protect myself from the world, that was actually trying to reach me, but maybe I was not realising that I was denying all the offers and all the friends that were trying to reach me, because I preferred to be by myself and to get to the bottom of that lonely feeling. And I was not feeling so good, but I realised that after maybe a couple of months. And I’m happy I’ve realised this feeling and this type of life is not good for me or for anyone around me. It was just growing inside me. 

"I was having like an armour to protect myself from the world, that was actually trying to reach me, but maybe I was not realising that I was denying all the offers and all the friends that were trying to reach me, because I preferred to be by myself and to get to the bottom of that lonely feeling"

Was it just one continuous situation or did it happen again? Did this feeling come back? 

This situation was maybe the peak, but yes, of course, it was feeling that was growing not for a week or two, it was one year period or something like that. And I was having good and bad moments, but this feeling of loneliness always managed to return. And it started to take a bigger time of my day and to grow stronger and to consume my calmness. But yeah that was the peak and I’m happy that took that adventure of mine just to face my fears and to see what it’s actually going on with me, with my body, with my feelings, etc. 

Did you… I asked about continuation because most of the people notice that there is a pattern and for me it definitely was. And now I can notice it in the very beginning and change it. Do you have something like that?

 

Yes, maybe the thing with me was, for example, some guy called me and he said ‘hey, what’s up with you? Let’s have a beer! Let’s do some work or let’s just do something’. And I was telling to myself ‘Oh, I hate this guy! What’s the purpose to give him my time?’ and I was just ‘Okay, no man, I don't feel okay right now, just maybe some other day’. And after a week or two, or a month that guy would call me again, and he said ‘Hey man what’s up with you again? Let’s go for a beer, for a walk or something!’ and I again declined him. And that was happening for a lot of people, maybe just for no reason, I was just ignoring everything that was offered to me by anyone. And it was patterning something that I was not exactly realising that I’m hurting people and myself by isolating myself or something. 

And did you… like obviously this big moment was when you went alone to the mountain, but did you discover some little things to do in your daily life that helps you not to go back to this state? 

I was trying, for example, to take my favourite book and re-read it, but it was not helping me. Because for example I was reading this book, but my thoughts were somewhere else. I played a movie, but again my thoughts were somewhere else. I went for a drink and realised that during a conversation with my friends, my thoughts were somewhere else. And maybe after a big amount of such situations, I started to realise that the only thing that makes me feel that something actually is happening and there is bigger power is nature. Nature gave me that feeling that it’s bigger than me. And it was happening when I was alone somewhere in the forest or on the road trip, driving and just thinking or hiking somewhere, but always alone. Just in order to clear up my thoughts and ignore everything that was surrounding me by that time. 

So it’s like, probably I have already told you, this differentiation between loneliness and solitude. I guess solitude is the right word to describe quality time with yourself at home or anywhere and reconnection with yourself. For me that was the problem, I lost this connection with myself. And maybe only a year and a half ago I’ve started finally to hear myself again…

Maybe at the beginning spending my time at home was really comfortable, it was okay. But after a while, I started to recognise that usually the things that I do in my place and the things that make me happy and make me just feel comfortable and okay with myself, were not doing their job. For example, I was doing them and they were happening to me, but I was feeling… empty. I was watching a movie but what for? I did not catch the plot. I did hear the music of the songs, but it did not make sense to me. So, yeah, from the beginning it was okay, but after a while, I started to escape even from my own place. I was trying to feel home by running from my actual home. 

Is there something else you would like other people to know about loneliness? 

Well, I think that loneliness and that confusing set of feelings that this word contains, it’s like a quest for every single one of us. And maybe my advice, if I might say that, is to experiment with ourselves. And to get people to know that we're not feeling as good as usual, and let them know that they can experiment with us too. They can try something new, to go to a new place, or maybe to start a new hobby… try to get ourselves together again. At least for a while. At least give it a try. We’re not losing anything just for a shot. 

"I think that loneliness and that confusing set of feelings that this word contains, it’s like a quest for every single one of us"

Do you believe that speaking about your feelings is beneficial or is it better to do it by yourself and figure it out on your own? How important for you it was to let people around you to know what you’re going through? 

Actually, there were just a couple of people at those moments that actually were aware of what was happening to me. And I would not change that if I could go back. Maybe the thing is that I would like to change is to share my emotions after that, tell the people that I’m back, that I’m again full of energy and ready to be productive again, to be happy again, to go out again and to feel like sitting on a strong ground, to feel strong. That’s the thing with me. 

Is there something else you would like to share? 

Maybe the only thing that occurs to me is to try not to forget those moments. After all those parts of our lives, this loneliness that maybe every single one of us has already felt or will experience and face it, it's okay after a while to remember those moments, to re-share with somebody who can understand you of course, with somebody that you love. This is experience after all. And as someone once said ‘when you go to a competition you’re either the winner or you just get the experience, you cannot lose’. So just go forward and that’s it.

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©  A-LONEliness project, Kristina Chimbaraite and Evgeniia Tarasova, 2019-2020.

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