Only the lonely – sometimes you have to be reminded to count your blessings


On Tuesday night, I spent the night alone in Brighton as part of a work trip. I’ve been doing this regularly for the past couple of years, driving down for a monthly meeting and spending the night in a hotel. As first, it was a bit of a novelty, a chance to sample a restaurant and walk on the beach. After all, Brighton was one of my favourite places! But that was when I associated it with holidays with friends, of lazy days and late nights.

Frustrated with my job and wondering if I could possibly make a success of my life, spending the night alone on Tuesday wasn’t a very appealing prospect. The wind was icy, blowing damp air that danced in taxi headlights; not quite drizzle, almost snow. I wandered around the lanes and down to the seafront, but the beach was dark and desolate. I had a feeling of unease and for once, didn’t feel safe walking on my own.

I found a restaurant and enjoyed my meal. It was actually very good and vegan-friendly, which is something that Brighton is great at on the whole! It was Pho, a Vietnamese restaurant (part of a chain but very good!). The staff were very friendly. Sometimes I enjoy being the mysterious person eating alone, absorbed in a book or my Kindle, making mysterious notes and observing human life. But you always have to do the awkward thing that Jeffrey Lewis sings about – going to the loo on your own and having to take your bag with you for security, while simultaneously reassuring the waiters that you’re not going to escape through the toilet window without paying the bill. And when a party of about ten cheerful, hip twenty-somethings came to sit on the table next to me, I lost heart and decided to return to my hotel room as quickly as possible, feeling miserable and lonely.

My walk back to the hotel made me realise that I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. There were lots of people eating alone; a lady in the window of Burger King, comfort-eating her way through fries and a burger, people walking at top speed while chomping on a take-away snack. And there were lots of people walking on there own too, with weary steps and pained expressions. Then I got lost, trying to find the railway station and ended up in an area with large white Georgian houses on a hillside. There was a lady being picked up by a taxi, surrounded by bin-bags and suitcases as if she’d just been thrown out by a lover. A bit further down the hill, there was a couple having a nasty argument, each person unable to understand each other.

At the railway station, people were rushing around, bundled into coats. There was a homeless guy. He must have been homeless. Only in his twenties; ratty half-dreaded hair, clothes ragged in an almost Dickensian way, dragging a tatty sleeping bag with him as he walked around the station. He was walking in the same direction as me and I watched him warily. At first, I thought he was talking into a mobile phone; later I realised that he was talking to himself. Where was he going to spend the night? How had he ended up here, wandering around the railway station? There’s something melancholy about seaside towns. Lost people always seem drawn to them, searching for something.

Only a few minutes later, I was freshly showered, cosy under the crisp white duvet in my hotel room. That’s when it hit me. It’s easy to feel sorry for myself when I’m on my own – to focus on the negative stuff. But I was safe and warm and the next night, I was staying with my wonderful parents, before returning home to my partner and my own home (even though my duvets aren’t quite so crisp). I’ve got amazing friends and I’m healthy and able to make my own decisions in life. Tough times and lonely nights can almost make me forget these things. But I shouldn’t.

When you’re feeling low, count your blessings and don’t listen to the nasty voices in your head.

Stay positive – we only get one life, and it’s for living. Moping around or being angry and negative isn’t going to do anyone any favours, including yourself.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. snaily1981
    Mar 01, 2013 @ 19:26:09

    Here here!


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