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  • Writer's pictureErika Nichols-Frazer

Lonely While Not Alone

Olive the dog, star of one of Corrine Yonce's beautiful paintings

"I'm not alone, but I'm still lonely."

-"Live in the Moment," Portugal the Man

Last night I went to my friend Corrine's Open Studio, where she had on display some gorgeous new wall-sized paintings (see above), all of women with an imposing male figure co-opting their space, women talking or lounging or painting their nails, in groups, but seemingly in their own worlds. "It feels like a study of loneliness in the company of others," I told her, and she seemed to think that was fitting. These pieces are about female relationships, she told me, having come from an all-female family. They're about sisters and girlfriends and the kind of comfort that exists between them, that special relationship where you can sit with someone without talking, be alone together.

This feels like a familiar theme to me, the concept of being lonely while with others. It's something I've experienced a lot in my life, sometimes feeling the most lonely when I'm around other people, people I care about and who care about me, but I feel like I'm on another planet. The greatest loneliness, I think, is the kind you feel deep inside, this place of feeling stuck, unseen, invisible. For me, it largely has to do with feeling present in your own body, in this moment and space, feeling there and heard, that combats the loneliness I so often feel.

As a kid, I spent a lot of time alone, reading, walking in the woods with my dog, creating. This didn't necessarily mean I was lonely; I generally like my own company. In fact, the times I felt loneliest were when I was with others but didn't feel really there, on the same page, was stuck in my own head. Then I would feel like I was always going to be lonely, that there would never be relief, someone who understood. I'm glad to say that that isn't the case, that I have good people in my life I enjoy just being around, and even when I dissociate or feel out of my body, that I can still be there, lonely but not alone.

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