dramatherapy asks: How can I overcome feeling isolated?
Hi dramatherapy –
Hey I love your name! My friend Handsome studied Dramatherapy, and is a huge fan of it. For those who don’t know, that’s a form of psychotherapy where, instead of just talking about things, the therapist and clients do lots of activities. Maybe they’ll write poems, or play with puppets or musical instruments, or draw pictures, or even act out roles – all in special ways that help the clients grow through stuff. If I were a therapist, I’d definitely be a Dramatherapist – if only because I can’t stand sitting still for long!!!
So, given that you chose that Pack name, I’m kind of surprised at your question. Because, you see, I think your name IS the answer to it!
It’s terrible to actually be isolated. When I’ve had to stay at the veterinarians’ office overnight, and I’m locked in a little cage all alone, I’m just miserable. I know Handsome’s coming back to get me… but I don’t totally know it! You know? I mean… he does love me, right? And he isn’t really mad at me about that thing he yelled about yesterday, is he? The thing I couldn’t figure out? And he’s going to be okay? I mean, he’s not hurt or something and so can never get back to get me, is he??!
Now that’s real isolation. But I’m assuming that you’re not locked in a cage. So what you’re asking about is that awful feeling of isolation. Where you can be in a huge crowd, or with a bunch of friends, or even in a family, and still feel all alone. And when you’re feeling that, it doesn’t even matter if everyone you’re around is being all social and friendly and having a great time. In fact, that might even make your feelings of isolation worse.
So what can you do with that? Well, I think what you need to do is two things. First, you need to figure out what’s going on inside you that leaves you feeling that way. And second, you need to find a way to connect to others that really feels connecting.
And Dramatherapy is a fantastic way to do both at the same time! If you can find a group that does it, you can dig deep into yourself, with other people who are doing the same thing, and thereby feel very connected with them.
But what if there isn’t a group like that around? Then I suggest you work a bit on yourself alone first.
You see, there’s almost definitely a reason for you to feel this way. Maybe you’re going through a period that feels very alone (you just suffered a bad breakup, or you discovered you didn’t like something about your life. Or you’re just a teenager – which is a guarantee of feeling isolation a lot of the time!). If so, then I’d really suggest you not try to fight that feeling, but rather dig into what’s going on. Maybe you need to be alone for a few days, just to figure out what you want to do next. Maybe you need a good cry, or to paint some pictures, or to spend a day hiking in the woods, or to just be quiet and read a book. And somehow, having done this, you’ll be able to connect to others from a new place, that’ll feel lots better.
Or maybe there’s something wrong in your world – like all your friends are changing, or someone’s said some bad things about you – and you’re feeling isolated because the people you were counting as your friends just aren’t there for you. If that’s it, you really need to try to talk with someone. Who, among those people, is the one you trust the most? The one who’s really kind and considerate? The one you’re sure still likes you deep down? Go to them, ask them about what’s going on. See if there’s something you can do to help change things.
And then, either way, your next job is to connect. And that is REALLY hard when you’re feeling this way! You need to find some way to connect to someone else. Maybe it’s to create a new group of friends, maybe it’s to have a talk with a family member at a level beyond any you’ve had before, maybe it’s just to find a new buddy. But whichever it is, it means reaching outside your “comfort zone,” by asking a favor, making a phone call, even just giving a compliment. And if at first you don’t succeed, KEEPING TRYING! Maybe that first person you reach out to isn’t the best choice. That’s okay, try someone else.
And how do you know if you’re doing it wrong or right? You won’t. Just keep trying. Talk with someone you share an interest with. Wear a t-shirt with your new favorite band on it and see who walks up to you saying “Oh wow, you like them too?!” Join a club at school, or take up a new sport.
As long as you’re following your heart, and pursuing your interests, the new people you meet are very likely to be just right for you. And through that, you’re almost guaranteed to (eventually) find yourself having that great conversation with someone that makes you feel like you’re found. Like you’re connected. Like you’re not isolated anymore.
Now of course you know I’m also going to suggest something else, while you’re in this process… Get a DOG! We are the BEST friends in the entire world, dramatherapy! You CAN’T be fully isolated when you’ve got a little knucklehead sticking its cold nose into your leg, wanting to play fetch! You CAN’T feel all alone when someone is always showing you how much they love you! Someone who thinks that curling up next to you for a nap is just the best thing ever!
So in conclusion, dramatherapy, there are lots of great ways to break out of this feeling of isolation. But there’s one wrong way, and that’s to avoid the feeling. By pretending it’s not there, by covering it up with alcohol or drugs, by pushing it aside. The feeling is real, and it’s there for a reason. And if you can deal with that reason, you have the chance to move on to a new and exciting new chapter in your life (as opposed to having the same problems but also becoming an addict, which happens to millions of people!).
So look forward to the next stage, but for now, just make sure you’re able to answer that famous question, from that funny-voiced singer Handsome likes so much…
How does it feel?! How does it feel?
To be on your own
Like a complete unknown
With no direction home
Like a Rolling Stone!
Good Luck my friend,