Feeling lonely? So many successful single women are feeling that way during these very stressful and isolating times! Being single is a real challenge right now, for sure. And it often leads to having what I call the Nobody’s Girl blues. I know all about it, because, as a result of my own lonely childhood, I grew up a Nobody’s Girl myself!
Nobody’s Girls are everywhere, especially now. You are not alone in facing these lonely times. There are many more Nobody’s Girls than you realize.
For example, there was Joy, a 40-something high-achieving webmaster, who was brilliant and dedicated in her work. Perhaps too dedicated. Sitting alone in her apartment, with her chihuahua on her lap, she worked long hours into the night. She had gained 20 pounds and didn’t like looking at herself in the mirror. For this reason, she rarely dated.
That is, until she met Jason on Match. He was an IT guy, a nerd who understood her. Or so she thought. More on Joy and Jason later. First I want you to have an understanding of the Nobody’s Girl patterns, so that you can eventually overcome them and breakthrough to being connected, loved and feeling chosen.
Have you ever felt completely drained at the end of what was almost a relationship? After a “relationship” that existed mostly in messages or texting and in your own imagination? Have you ever thought to yourself, love is just too hard–I don’t need all this bull*. I don’t need anyone…really.
This is the inner world of the Nobody’s Girl. As Shakespeare put it:
“I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he love me.”
Love is hard for everyone, but for the Nobody’s girl, it’s the hardest of all. Expressions of love can actually hurt. They are cruel reminders of what you secretly believe in you heart of hearts you can never have. You say you want a relationship, and plans a life with a man and you mean it. But saying one thing while believing another only gets you frustrated and unhappy. Love only happens when you truly believe it’s possible for you. And deep down you don’t.
And so you are a lone ranger used to riding solo.
As a Nobody’s girl you feel different, not the same as all those well-adjusted smiling yoinks that are all over social media. They may look happy on their vacays with their hubbies and kids. But many of those women are actually Nobody’s Girls deep inside, like you. And they actually feel lonely and unhappy. And not loved for real. You will be surprised to discover, as you read on, that many Nobody’s Girls share common experiences. You may not have had them all, but you will find you’re familiar with most of them.
First of all, when a fling ends you are upset, but you’re certainly not surprised to find yourself alone. It’s all too familiar. And when we say alone, that doesn’t just mean distanced from any romantic interests, but also guarded with other people in general. It’s a habit, a knee-jerk reaction.
But if you looked underneath what you’d find is a belief: to be real about what you need or depend on someone else would make you feel vulnerable and, in your mind, put you at risk. Better to keep a stiff upper lip. Brace yourself for a fall then rely on someone to catch you. . . someone who might not be there in time or might not be strong enough. So when a friend or co-worker offers to help you move your office or lend an ear, you most likely turn them down. You appear strong; others see a competent tough woman. Meanwhile inside you feel like a scared or shy child who’s definitely on the outside looking in. The truth is your self-esteem and confidence lag far behind that strong veneer.
You probably have one or two friends that you text, call or ask to hang out. But otherwise you tend not to call people, to be proactive or reach out. Your phone book’s not overflowing because of your soldier stance. Still you’re not without regrets for having to serve this tour of duty. A pang of jealousy may strike your heart as you overhear someone talking to their mom or dad for more than sixty seconds about some upset they’re having. “My parents would never be there for me like that,” you think to yourself.
Actually, except for your few friends, it’s hard to share your upsets with anyone at all. Sometimes it’s hard to even know exactly what is bothering you. When you grow u p with no one listening to you, you get the impression that it may not even be safe to feel your feelings, to be afraid or angry, because those feelings just might take you over, swamp you. So you learn to stuff down what’s inside.
You’re nervous and uncomfortable around people, especially new acquaintances. And most especially when you like a guy. And when you do manage to share your real thoughts, your self-doubt, it feels dangerous, like you are just asking for it, i.e., courting abandonment.
Joel: Yeah Tangerine?
Clementine: Am I ugly?
Clementine: When I was a kid, I thought I was. I can’t believe I’m crying already. Sometimes I think people don’t understand how lonely it is to be a kid, like you don’t matter. So, I’m eight, and I have these toys, these dolls. My favorite is this ugly girl doll who I call Clementine, and I keep yelling at her, “You can’t be ugly! Be pretty!” It’s weird, like if I can transform her, I would magically change, too.
Joel: [kisses Clementine] You’re pretty.
Clementine: Joely, don’t ever leave me.
~Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Clementine in Eternal Sunshine is the quintessential extraverted Nobody’s Girl Love Type. You can see how hard it is for her to be open. And when Joel is loving, the first thought in her mind is him leaving her.
Most Nobody’s Girls feel unlikeable and tend to seek approval by giving people what they want. If you become who they want you to be, at least you will keep a connection. Depending on your unique gifts, you may go into the super-achiever mode (using brains to get attention), or the super-sexy mode (using your body to get love).
Most importantly you stuff down any resentment or anger and forget about asking for what you want or need. Instead you tend to smile and “yes” people. At least until you can’t take it anymore. Then all Hell may break loose.
When you are in a relationship, you often find yourself holding back from sharing your feelings with boyfriends because you’re certain that they won’t care . . . or you’re convinced they won’t be around for very long anyway so why bother? Instead you may find yourself jumping through every hoop from perfectly-planned presents and Martha Stewart dinners to sexual acrobatics to keep your guy happy. . . even when you know it just won’t work…
So now back to Joy. Joy waited impatiently for the grocery doors to slide open and then rushed inside leaving a biting winter wind behind her. This was the third supermarket she’d ducked into in the past hour and she crossed her frozen fingers hoping they’d have the chocolate pudding she was searching for. It wasn’t for her, of course. It was for the cake she was going to bake for Jason for his birthday, from scratch.
Jason usually texted every few days, but it was going on almost a week. Some fresh air—she thought—would do her good. It would stop her from thinking the phone was ringing while she was in the bathroom handwashing some socks he’d forgotten at her place or sprinting down the hall to throw her garbage down the incinerator. If only they had the chocolate pudding it would solve all her problems.
Joy’s best friend Elvera had warned her against baking for a guy too soon, coming off too-eager and looking back to regret it all. But it was his birthday, after all. And she was sure the fastest way to Jason’s heart was through his stomach Besides, if she didn’t put in 150% to love him, how could she expect him to love her even half as much?
The real dynamic in over giving like Joy is a secret belief that if you are good enough, do enough, fix him enough, make him see how he can’t really live without you, he will love you. And this will be the one time that you can work magic. You’re like a little kid who believes that if she is really really good, she’ll get the special present she wants: an attentive prizing parent. Of course, you can’t ever make anyone love you. And, of course, Joy never even got to give Jason that moist yummy chocolate cake! He broke up with her and did not even want to see her for her birthday. Whereupon, Joy ate a third of the cake at one sitting to quiet her heartbreak.
Luckily, Joy realized she had to break out of this self-sabotaging pattern of not feeling good enough. She decided once and for all that she was going to learn how to love and empower herself. And this was the beginning of a true change in her life. She immediately called us for help and started doing what I call the Diamond Self work with a coach. She gave herself the nickname, Chosen Wanted Blonde-haired Girl of Love and Light.
At first Joy thought the whole nickname was too positive for her. But her coach pointed out the beautiful and quite amazing qualities Joy did have. And Joy got it! That new Diamond Self identity gave Joy the impetus she needed to change her attitudes and beliefs about herself and about relationships. We will return to Joy and what she did to change her life in Part II of this blog, Overcoming Loneliness.
You need to understand that you’re not simply stuck with your childhood script for the rest of your life. You can actually get reparented—get the loving appreciation, validation and guidance you always needed but never got. In order to do that and rewrite your lonely childhood script, you need to find mentors, people who are like fairy godmothers to you, who can right the wrongs that have happened in your past.
This is the process I went through, myself, with a loving coach. And now I am definitely not a lonely Nobody’s Girl—I am married to the great love of my life!
You may have read other self-help books talk endlessly about how you can’t rely on other people to give you what you need. Well on one level that’s true—you have to ultimately do it for yourself. But it’s an awfully long road for a Nobody’s Girl pulling herself up by her own bootstraps and we’ve already shown you how trying to be Ms. Independent has backfired in the past.
The great news is there are loving, caring people who can nurture, validate and give you the experience of love that you can then take in and use to love yourself. There are probably loving people in your network but you never gave them a chance.
I know: you are too shy. And it won’t work for you and yada, yada, yada. But overcome all that lonely Nobody’s Girl self-talk and take a chance for yourself! You so deserve it!
Originally published on Love in 90 Days.
Cover photo by Pexels