18 Heartbreakingly Real Confessions About Holiday Loneliness


“While everyone else is celebrating, I am by myself. Or even
worse, surrounded by couples and families.”

Posted on December 21, 2017, 14:04 GMT

The holiday season is
made out to be this warm cheery time spent surrounded by
loved ones, but when that’s not your reality, the holidays
can be lonely as fuck.

Lee Mendelson Films

So we asked people to share stories and confessions about
holiday loneliness, and also collected submissions from
the Loneliness
Project, an interactive web archive where people can
submit their honest and real experiences with loneliness.

Here are just some of the relatable confessions and
stories that will remind you you’re not alone if you’re
not feeling holiday cheer this year.


My parents are divorced, and when I was 19 I spent Christmas
alone. My mom was with her husband and his family. My dad was
with his girlfriend and her family. My older siblings were
with their significant others and I spent Christmas Eve
and Christmas Day alone. I didn’t even get a phone call.

—Mega, 42, via the Loneliness Project


I’m openly gay to my friends but closeted to my family.
Whenever I’m at home for the holidays, I usually go for a
long stretch of time without romance/sexual interaction of
any kind for fear of my family finding out. My Uber driver
from the airport asked me, “Boys or girls?” I said, “Boys.”
He said, “Top or bottom?” I said, “Top.” He said, “Wanna
fuck?” I seriously considered going to a complete
stranger’s house and having sex with him
, but eventually
my fear of being murdered led me to say no.

—Anonymous, 22


It was Christmas 1971. My family was downstairs — maybe a
dozen people — and I was getting something in my bedroom. I
remember looking out the window as the stars came out,
listening to the laughter and bubbling conversations drifting
up from downstairs, and a feeling went through me that
told me I would never ever have this — a happy family of my
own. Sadly, it proved to be true.

—Angela, 57, via the Loneliness Project

Marissa Korda / The Loneliness Project


The first time I realized I felt lonely was a few years ago.
I was at a Christmas party full of people. Some were close
friends, some just acquaintances. I was the only person there
without a significant other. That was something I was
accustomed to and typically have been okay with. But this
time I felt different. All of my friends have met and
started new lives with someone else — all except me.
was in a room full of people and I was not only alone, but
felt lonely. I couldn’t understand how that could be when I
was surrounded by many people and have so many people that
love me. But I was still lonely.

—Anonymous, 43, via the Loneliness Project


I think I’ve felt lonely throughout my life and I am truly
alone except for my dog. Christmas guts me every year. I
already accept there won’t be even a phone call for me. I
have bought a precooked meal and a slice of pie. My evening
walk with the dog takes my soul every year, for curtains are
open into living rooms full of families and friends. I can
hear them, sometimes smell their turkey dinners, but most of
all, I feel all their happiness, knowing I will never have
it. I get home and get into bed and cry and will the day away
with sleep.

—Scout, 60, via the Loneliness Project


Just like many others, my loneliness is exacerbated by the
holidays. I want to spend my holidays with the people I love,
and that does not entail my family. I want to spend time
with friends, but unfortunately, my family would never allow
So I’m forced into rooms with extended family
members, while I’m incredibly empty and void inside.

—Kimberly, 23, via the Loneliness Project

Marissa Korda / The Loneliness Project


I already have depression during the year, but then my
seasonal depression is really bad once it starts getting
darker outside. I can have a really great day, and then come
home at night and feel drained and depressed and like life
isn’t worth living, which is the scariest thing. It’s
especially hard to explain to people during the holidays when
everyone is happy. Depression doesn’t take a break just
because there’s something fun going on, and this is something
a lot of people have a hard time understanding.
They try
to say “just focus on the holidays” as if that won’t make it
worse. Sometimes even the good things during the holidays
feel overwhelming and I feel like my head is too crowded to
have the capacity to feel that joy.

—Elly, 23


My sisters and aunt have alienated my mom and me from their
lives over the past couple years. We don’t fit into their
perfect, snobby lifestyles and they think we’re losers. My
mom and I may not be as well off as they are, but we’re not
suffering either. My sisters and aunt control all family
events and we are no longer invited for birthdays, family
dinners, or holidays. Even though I think they’re pretty much
bitches, it hurts to go from big holidays with 30+ people, to
just me and my mom. I feel especially sad and lonely when
I think of what my life will be like after my mom is gone. I
will have no family left.

—N, 38, via the Loneliness Project

Marissa Korda / The Loneliness Project


I suppose perhaps I’m at my loneliest during the holiday
months because while everyone else is celebrating, I am
oftentimes by myself, or even worse, surrounded by couples
and families.
On some holidays I’m fortunate enough to
have my children come home, the others I’m not.

—T, 43, via the Loneliness Project


I felt most lonely when I moved cities for a job and two
years later realized that I had made no connections deep
enough in my new home where I could invite someone or be
invited by someone for a Christmas meal
. I am Muslim by
faith but Christmas had always been a special time for me, so
it was a crushing blow to me to realize that I was truly
alone in that city.

—Luz, 59, via the Loneliness Project


Just before Christmas about 10 years ago, I was homesick but
couldn’t afford to go home (at the time I was studying
abroad). When I admitted this to my mother she simply
replied with “It will be good for you to spend some time
This literally felt like emotional betrayal. To
this day I still feel like I can’t count on her for emotional

—Emma, 34, The Loneliness Project

Marissa Korda / The Loneliness Project


My parents care deeply about bringing together as much family
as possible for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and will go to
sometimes extreme measures to drag me or my sister from
wherever we are to wherever they are. It’s not that they’re
bad people or that I hate them or anything, but they’re not
really people my sister and I would ever spend time with if
we weren’t related. Those holidays sometimes feel like the
Twilight Zone, stepping into my early teenage years, but it’s
even more work to please them now that I know there’s life
beyond that. All the while I feel ripped from places that
feel much more real, and people I’d rather share a meal with
than anyone else.

Again, my parents aren’t bad or evil, but I spent 18 years
living with them, and we know each others’ routines so well
that it feels like I’m doing stiff choreography with
mannequins, rather than sharing any kind of closeness



My parents separated during the holidays a few years ago and
finalized their divorce last New Year. I dread this season
for the feelings it brings up for me — and because no one
quite understands how it feels. The mix of grief, relief,
and fear is pretty alien to my friends and leaves me
disconnected and alone until February.

—Anonymous, 25


Back home, Christmas and New Year were big holidays. In my
home country, my city was the country‘s capital, so there
were always gigantic celebrations with families, relatives,
friends, and I was invited to go to a lot of places to
celebrate. Here in Canada, one of my parents has to work on
either Christmas or New Year. It‘s sad because now, it’s just
my parents, my younger brother and I during the holidays.
My youngest brother passed away a few years ago and we
already didn’t have a lot of people to celebrate it with in
this new country, and now it hurts even more that my youngest
brother passed away.
Usually, we just watch TV during the
holidays, and depending on whether my mom has work or not,
she prepares a big feast for like four people. If not, we
just watch TV and my dad drinks and locks himself in his room
until the next day.

—Rei, 23, via the Loneliness Project

Marissa Korda / The Loneliness Project


It‘s Christmas and we‘re opening gifts. My brother makes a
rude comment and my dad gets out of his chair and screeches,
“Why don’t you just leave! I hate you!” This ended in a
knockdown drag-out fight, my mother crying alone in the
bathroom, and me trying to hold back tears as I open a gift
under the now empty tree. I’m not sure I like Christmas so
much anymore. In practice it’s wonderful but in reality it
feels like acid to my skin

—Anonymous, 14, via the Loneliness Project


I’m a queer, nonbinary trans person and I feel very lonely
during the holidays when I have to be with my conservative,
Catholic family. The common holiday advice is “Don’t spend
time with people who don’t accept and support you!” and
that’s obviously the ideal, but for myself and plenty of
folks I know, it isn’t easy to get out of holiday commitments
with family of origin‚ and doing so can often make things
worse and more tense overall.

While I’m at my family’s place I have to put up with being
deadnamed (because they think my chosen name is silly) and
misgendered (because they don’t acknowledge that some people
— like myself — identify outside of the gender binary), and
on top of that I’m expected to keep quiet about all my
liberal snowflake views so I don’t cause a scene and ruin
Christmas. I take as much holiday survival advice as I
can, but even though I text my partner when I need support
and I live-tweet the ridiculous and upsetting comments during
the visit, I still feel incredibly lonely and isolated.
tend to feel trapped because even my siblings aren’t very
understanding of how being there has such a negative impact
on me, so I’m alone there in everything I’m feeling, just
pretending to be the person they think I am.

—JP, 24

Marissa Korda / The Loneliness Project


My mom died just after Christmas back in 2005, and ever since
my dad doesn’t celebrate the holiday. I’m an adult now but
I’m not close enough to my mom’s family to ask to spend
Christmas with them, and my dad’s family is too far away to
visit. I always end up working on Christmas to distract
myself and make some money, but it’s definitely a hard
holiday for me. It makes me feel very lonely to see people
spending time with family, but I try to keep busy and get it
over with.
I just tell people I’m a Grinch when they ask
why I don’t celebrate the holiday, but one day I do want a
tree and dinner and the whole shebang.

—Ash, 23


Around the holidays, there is enormous pressure to constantly
be participating in festive activities with friends, family,
significant others. It can be really lonely for people
struggling with mental illness, people who feel alienated
from their friends, forever-single people. As I get older, I
also find that I get more melancholy during the holidays and
as the year winds down because it’s a reminder that time is
passing and I still have no idea what I’m doing with my life.
Plus, I work in retail and holiday shoppers often make me
feel murderous. This time of year can be really wonderful,
but it can also exacerbate grief, sadness, depression, and

—Elizabeth, 24

To read more or submit your own story, visit the
Loneliness Project on Instagram or

If you can relate,
here are ways you can feel
less lonely during the holidays, according to

And by the way, if you want to talk to someone (because hey,
sometimes we all do), you can reach the National Suicide Prevention
Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and the Crisis Text Line by
texting HOME to 741741.

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