the loneliness and the scream.

I have a tendency to over-listen to songs. It drives my husband nuts. He is a one-and-done kind of guy, whereas I can hit repeat on the same song for hours. Hours. Words sometimes just hit me, and when the feels are all stirred up by a song I kind of like to sit in it for a bit.

This one got to me the other day. It’s been running through my mind ever since. Particularly the lyric that says,

In the loneliness
oh, the loneliness
and the scream to prove to everyone that I exist

I’ve been working as a counsellor here in Winnipeg for 5 and a half years, and in that time I’ve encountered a fair amount of lonely individuals. And that feels kind of like an understatement. A lack of community, even in a small city like the ‘Peg, is a significant concern – as many people really struggle to find a place to root. I think that the longstanding deep connections that many people have here also can make it hard for new folks to break in and find community – lots of people still run with their friends from grade school, and there’s not always room for new relationships to be built.

What do we do when we’re lonely? How do folks cope? The song talks of the scream to prove to everyone that I exist. And all I could think about as I listened to this (over and over) were the ways in which we try and make ourselves known. Some people seek out negative attention. Others may be cranky or angry or play hard to get. Some folks self-harm. Loneliness can mean our needs to be seen and known aren’t being met. When we aren’t being seen and known in meaningful ways we may engage in behaviours that seem destructive or unhelpful on the surface – but these behaviours may be our best way to solve the lonely problem.

I think of some shenanigans that go on in my first graders classroom at school. She’s in a tricky class, with many kids who struggle to keep themselves together throughout the course of any given day. As the year has gone on some kiddos have inevitably gotten missed in the fray – and now, 7 months in, disruptive behaviours for some are kicking up a notch. On the surface it may look like someone who is just not paying attention, or a kid being nasty to others – but if we look underneath, perhaps this is “the scream” intended to combat loneliness that has been experienced as the rowdy kids have siphoned a lot of the attention this year.

Perhaps, armed with the knowledge that what seems destructive on the surface may be about a deeper issue, we can work at being more compassionate with those around us. The lyrics continue to say:

Am I here? of course I am, yes
All I need is your hand to drag me out again

All we need is to know we’re not alone, and a little bit of help.

Hands out, folks. Let’s look out for each other well, and work to combat loneliness by really seeing and knowing those we encounter throughout the day. Maybe we can make it so that screaming is no longer necessary.

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