Alone versus lonely

Are you lonely?

Alone versus lonely – what is the difference? When I tell people that I spent 3 years living by the sea in an attic flat in a seaside town where I knew no one, people always ask me ‘Were you lonely?’ The answer is – yes. At first. But then I learnt how to be alone. And that is something entirely different, my friend.

Sleep alone

When I was performing all over the world (but don’t get excited – mostly in Wolverhampton) my catchphrase was ‘Sleep alone.’ I may have told the audience to ‘sleep alone’ for laughs but I wrote this line for myself secretly because I knew I could not do it.

I would do anything rather than sleep alone.

Lonely in front of crowds for money


I was scared to be alone in an empty house – and with PTSD the silence was actually triggering. Weird, right? I have no idea if this is ‘normal’ but when it was silent my heart rate rose and I had this feeling as if a bomb was going to go off at any second. I hated being alone. And in the rare times that I was, I felt lonely.


How would you describe loneliness? I felt such a lack. A deep lack of something when I was on my own. I would get on watsapp with a bottle of wine in the bath and communicate with strangers. But this made me feel more lonely. Can I get a hell yeah? I hope it was not just me….. I felt that I lacked something. When I had someone in my bed I still felt that lack if I am honest. It was a horrible feeling – like and ache in my guts.

Drunk in love

Me and…me!

Fast forward 3 years….. after 3 years of sitting alone on park benches, beaches, in cafes and on the seafront, in my flat with an ocean view (don’t get too excited – it was only the Bristol channel) in hotels, planes, trains, cars, buses, boats, theatres and cinemas, I feel great. I feel connected to something. That something was me. I love being alone.

I never feel lonely.

I miss the bottle because I think drink had become my imaginary friend. And I know I am not the only woman who has done that. Just one look at instagram to see photographs of drinks as if they were mates tells me otherwise. ‘Here is my cocktail on holiday.’ ‘Here is Gin ny.’

But I never feel lonely. And I love sleeping alone.


That’s not the end of the blog. I know that those 3 years were a huge struggle for me. It is definitely easy. Loneliness had been with me since I was a girl. I sort of missed feeling sorry for myself. How did I do it? I sat with the pain – and at first it was scary. But over time the emotional pain was not as great.

What do you fear?

I realised that part of the fear was fear of feeling anything. I think this was a greater fear than being alone.

The 361 recovery programme was developed over those 3 windswept and solitary years. It is designed to help you get comfortable with sitting alone. This does not mean that you have to be single with no family friends. It does mean that you can become comfortable enough with being alone that you can pause before making decisions about who you allow into your life – and into your bed. The 361 helps you to take a slow 360 of your life and decide who goes and stays – what is working and what is not. What you fear. Where the loneliness comes from. Facing your fears. In your own time. The 361 helps you to find that ‘something’ that I thought was in someone else. It was in me. Find the one. Find you. The 361.

Alice Smith 2019

Published by 361one

when I write I am a king. Listen to more at 361 live podcast

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