The word “Loneliness” hasn’t always been present in the English language. In fact, it is relatively new. “Oneliness” on the other hand had always been there, meaning one’s being alone. It’s considered obsolete now in modern English. But it could be a perfect description of the state of many; There’s a case for people who are lonely, yet not alone. And the exact opposite.

Many are familiar with that feeling, summarized as just not being surrounded by the “right” people–people who wouldn’t tolerate a talk of opening-up, or people that are not particularly interested, or people who are absolutely compassionate and supportive, but really have nothing to offer.

Many throughout history have expressed this feeling, even before the “right” words existed. And they put it like no one could ever do. Though Tomas Turner was surrounded by friends. And yet, after the passing of his wife (whom he called his “only friend”), he wrote in his diary, he felt “deserted”

“Not one, no! not one that attempts to pour that healing balm of compassion into a heart wounded and torn to pieces with trouble. Whenever it shall please the almighty to take from me the wife of my bosom, then shall I be like a beacon upon a rock, or an ensign on a hill, destitute of every sincere friend, and not a friendly companion left to comfort my afflicted mind and yield that pleasing comfort of consolation to a mind quite worn to the grave with trouble.”

The modernist English writer Virginia Woolf wrote of her own loneliness in 1928 in her diary

“I have entered into a sanctuary… of great agony once; and always some terror: so afraid one is of loneliness: of seeing to the bottom of the vessel… and got then to a consciousness of what I call ‘reality’… something abstract, but residing in the downs or sky; beside which nothing matters.”

Plath struggled for a sense of belonging that was constantly just out of reach

“God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates… despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter – they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long.”

If you have this one person that scares the loneliness out of you. Count this blessing.

Resources & References: The invention of loneliness: why being ‘unhappy alone’ is a surprisingly modern idea