What do you think of when somebody mentions the word lonely?

Do you think of an old woman sat in a retirement home by the window, waiting for a visitor who never shows up?

Or perhaps a guy in his 40s living with his mother who lies in bed everynight wishing he could ever have a girlfriend by his side?

It was the other morning I realised the true meaning of being lonely. I had known I was lonely for a while, but I never realised what that truly meant. I was doing my hair, took a deep breath and started to apply my make-up. Uusually, when doing my makeup, I looked at the area in the mirror, not my whole face. It hurt me to look usually at my face for longer than a minute or two. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror; I never have. But suddenly I felt my chest fall heavy and tears in my eyes, and I made myself look.

What I saw shocked me to the core, because I didn’t see staring back what I told myself I was. I was a strong, confident and happy young lady with two businesses, the best friends, an amazing thriving daughter and a positive future. But what I saw was something lost. I saw a little girl who’s eyes were blank and bagged, with a slumped posture and a lost and helpless look. I realised then how lonely I really was.

Lonely isn’t just needing somebody, it’s needing yourself. You’re lonely in your own body because you don’t even know who you are anymore. You spend so long trying to find yourself, trying to make things okay, trying to please other people, that you forget who you really are.

Lonely is being sat in the same room as the love of your life and seeing him be distant and panicking that you’ll be left alone. Lonely is waking up in the middle of the night to your 4 year old crying over yet another nightmare and wishing there was some way, any other way, to deal with it better than crying yourself. Lonely is needing someone there to help, someone to help take the overwhelming weight off the mundane task of learning to love yourself.

Because that’s why we need someone else. We don’t need someone else because it makes us happy. We need someone else to make us feel loved, to make us feel wanted, to tell us we’re amazing and pretty and perfect. We need someone else so we have somebody to tell all of our feelings to, someone who will reassure us. The thing is; we don’t need this person. We can do this for ourselves. But when you’ve had such a hard relationship with yourself for all of your life, it’s hard…really hard. And trying to love yourself everyday is tiring and like fighting an endless battle. Because yourself does not like you. Yourself is all you’ve got. And so you feel…alone.