I recently watched a short film titled Mabel and co-starring one of my favourite actors Alexander Dreymon. The film beautifully tackles the issue of loneliness. It is a wonderful little film, whose protagonist visits a cafe daily to buy a coffee for a local rough sleeper – and to get a few moments together with Alex, and who can blame her really?
One scene in particular I found very moving and it has stayed with me in the days since I watched it, it stuck in my mind and the more I thought about it the more moved I became. Mabel sits at a table in the cafe hoping to get a glimpse of her favourite barrister. She orders 2 drinks and says she is celebrating her friends birthday, but that her friend won’t be joining her, she is celebrating on her friends behalf. The lady is then approached by the manager and asked to move table since she is dining alone and in a space reserved for larger groups. Mabel becomes extremely distressed at this point. So much so the manager appeases her by saying she can stay, walking away with a look of disbelief on her face.
The inconsiderate manner in which the manager of the restaurant so publicly and heartlessly approaches Mabel is a moment that really struck me. As Mabel toasts her friend, who it is apparent by now has passed away, and has a discussion with her – speaking aloud to herself; the manager looks over, not attempting to hide the judgement she feels towards this lady in her restaurant, mourning the loss of a friend she loves so dearly that she sits alone in public toasting her on her birthday. This is a scene that so beautifully and subtly highlights one of the biggest flaws in our society. The shaming of loneliness.
Mabel herself is a source of great comfort to the person in her community who she sees needs some comfort. She regularly brings coffee to a local homeless man. She shows him that someone cares, someone has noticed he is there and Mabel does what she can to lighten the load and bring some joy to the life of this homeless person. But Mabel doesn’t receive the same treatment in return. One person alone is nice to her, the barrister who serves her the coffee. And while she sits in the restaurant alone, tears streaming down her face as she mourns the loss of her friend, no one notices, no one tries to lighten her load or show they care. They allow this person who is lost in her loneliness to remain in the dark. The manager notices, but instead of offering compassion she looks on in judgement, marking her as nothing less than bat-shit crazy. And this is the problem that this film so brilliantly highlights. The way the society in which we live can look upon another who is suffering and feel it is OK to judge them, to label them, to shame them.
Loneliness is a source of great shame in this society. Along with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, we have been conditioned to dismiss, deny, ignore or worse, judge those who face this life alone with no one to comfort them aside from the memories of happier times. The situation was bad prior to lockdown, I can only imagine the isolation that some must have been going through during the course of this pandemic. As a Mum who home educates my children, I very rarely find myself alone, but still I have the sense of isolation at times. It’s something that has been a part of my life always despite coming from a large extended family. Loneliness can happen to anyone and it is not always triggered by being physically alone. I count my blessings to have my family around me so much that solitude is something that I crave. Yet there are times that I feel I have no friends, no one who I can connect with on a spiritual level, this sense of disconnection can occur even for those who are never alone.
As a result of watching Mabel and following this train of thought this week I have started a group on Facebook. The intention behind the group is that it is a place that anyone can visit if they feel lost, lonely, isolated or in need of some support emotionally, spiritually or mentally. A group that encourages its members to speak out about the issues of loneliness, anxiety, depression, bereavement and loss. If you feel you would benefit from being part of such a group please come and find me. Together we can make sure we are all noticed in the moments we need it most, we can offer each other some care and support and help to lighten each others loads. It can help just to know that we are not alone.
On the day of writing this Not Alone is a brand new group. I haven’t invited any members to join because I feel strongly that I only want people to join the group via their own request and not through being invited by myself. If you join, you can be among those who help found and build the group! Let’s make a difference where we can. I hope to see you soon.
Mabel is available to watch now on Amazon Prime.