No one wants to talk about middle aged Black Women and loneliness

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Whilst I suffer from depression, I am keenly aware between a depressive episode, loneliness, and collective trauma due to the pandemic. It is my humble opinion that the pandemic has exacerbated loneliness for Black American Women and that may have pushed some people into depressive episodes. I felt compelled to highlight this and state this up front because many times when people write whilst in a depressive episode, they may not be completely objective or even lightly objective to the subject matter at hand. Today, I’m writing as objectively as I can about something that I live with daily — Loneliness. And I’m not ashamed.

lone·li·ness
/ˈlōnlēnəs/

Learn to pronounce
noun
1.
sadness because one has no friends or company.
“feelings of depression and loneliness”
Similar:
isolation
friendlessness
lack of friends/companions
forsakenness
abandonment
rejection
unpopularity
sadness
unhappiness
forlornness
despondency
lonesomeness
solitariness
solitude
lack of company
aloneness
separation
remoteness
inaccessibility
seclusion
secludedness
desertedness
2.
(of a place) the quality of being unfrequented and remote; isolation.
“the loneliness of the farm”

There is a loneliness that comes with aging as a Black American women. It’s not something that you readily notice throughout the years. It is a culmination of an invisible shift. It is the quiet shedding of friends to tighten your social circle. It is sometimes losing interest in something that kept you connected to an old social community. Sometimes it is divorce that separates you from the friends and life you thought you knew. The loneliness comes. You cannot stop it. You can acknowledge it and deal with it.

Enter COVID19. The pandemic has definitely exacerbated the loneliness that middle aged Black women feel. To be isolated from your friends and family. To have to nestle comfortably in seclusion because being out in public is sometimes taking your life into your own hands. Not being touched – and not just sexually, but platonically. The hugs, the air kisses, the high fives, the pat on the backs – they’ve all gone away. And so you are left with self, your thoughts, rebuilding connections through digital mediums, and the voices in your head are at their loudest in years.

One of the most poignant articles I read prior to the pandemic was “Why Black Women Are Aging Alone”. That article touched me deeply because I watched my Godmother / Aunt slip into a deep mental and emotional decline as she aged. It was hard to watch, because I didn’t understand it at first. I think her isolation contributed to her health issues and her less than stellar emotional decisions could have contributed dearly to her death.

For me the hardest part of the pandemic and aging has been internalizing the loss of friendships during the pandemic and trying to understanding my ongoing evolution further shaped by “getting up in age”. Losing people because I couldn’t maintain the friendship in isolation or with extreme distance has been hurtful. I mourn the friendship or the changing of the friendship. I long for things to remain the same until after the pandemic. However, the only constant thing in our lives is CHANGE. EVERYTHING MUST CHANGE. And I think the pandemic is here to stay because America has no real leadership and there is no real support for the working class. So these losses and changes in my friendships are permanent. Sometimes it is a hard pill to swallow.

The other part of the loneliness is not being able to access lovers or be involved in a romantic relationship. Many women are devoid of adoration, a subject to whom directly increases your serotonin, or someone to share your journey. For many of us, this is not necessarily a bad thing because it means we have a wonderful sense of peace and no drama in our lives. However, not being able to access a lover and then being isolated in a pandemic with no connection can give you a spinster vibe, a vibe that perhaps you weren’t into.

There are many conversations on the web about “Aunties” and from what I gather Aunties are supposed to be fun, happy, comical, enduring, loving, etc. It’s a modern take on giving an older woman an age based designation when she is no longer a Pretty Young Thang (PYT) and she hasn’t hit Big Momma level yet. What I also noticed is that Aunties are desexualized. They never refer to them as beautiful, sensual, alluring, beguiling, etc. If they do, the moniker changes from Auntie to Cougar. It is almost like you cannot be a happy, well adjusted, Black woman confident in her place in life and be a beautiful sexual being, in tandem. Well you can be, but you better be a celebrity, I guess — and not a regular smegular working class woman. And there in lies the damn problem. This is one of the ways middle aged Black Women are desexualized or their sexuality is mocked. That too contributes to loneliness as well, because if you don’t fit into these “boxes” you may feel erasure socially.

I hope in the coming months as we go into the holidays, there are more conversations about loneliness and how Black women navigate said loneliness. It is imperative to the mental and emotional health of middle aged Black Women to explore this topic and perhaps create solutions to navigate this part of their journey with healthy results.