Below is an outline of each of the book chapters. The links connect you to discussion forums for each chapter.
Chapter 1 - Sara
Chapter 1, Sarah, is a story about growing up with bullying in school. The bullying, in part, stems from her being different with a cleft lip. She details the horrific bullying she went through, the failure of the school to properly address the bullying, and how she coped with this situation. She ends by talking about her experiences at university. In reviewing Sarah’s story, I talk about bullying and why people bully. Also I answer questions about why Sarah resorted to such extreme forms of attention getting, and how her past experiences currently influence her current thinking and behavior.
Chapter 2 - Jack
In chapter 2, Jack talks about his inescapable feelings of loneliness. He starts with his parents, who he believes also experienced chronic feelings of loneliness, and outlines how loneliness has played throughout his life. He is at a point where his life lacks meaning and he has resigned himself to feeling lonely for the rest of his life. In my discussion of Jack’s story, I ask the question, what would make someone conclude that loneliness is inescapable? Why would someone accept the fate of being lonely for the rest of his/her life? In Jack’s case, I talk about being true to ourselves and not trying to change who we are to fit in.
Chapter 3 - Megan
Chapter 3, Megan, is a story about someone who did not receive the consistent love and affection that she needed from her parents growing up. As a result, she had a deep desire for a romantic relationship as an adult. My analysis of Megan’s story talks about how the relationship with our parents can influence the types of romantic relationships we create with others. In Megan’s case, why we can get easily disappointed with the relationship if things do not turn out as planned.
Chapter 4 - Lisa
Chapter 4 is about Lisa, a person who did not receive a lot of physical affection growing up. She describes just recently leaving a relationship and experiencing strong feelings of loneliness. In the process she is having second thoughts about leaving the relationship. Lisa’s romantic relationship reflects the often misguided motivations we have for getting into a relationship. I detail two destructive motivations that initially cause people to get into relationships but which ultimately cause its demise. Understanding these erroneous motivations can spare one a lot of heartache later on.
Chapter 5 - Louise
Chapter 5 describes the story of Louise, a person who is trying to find a healthy balance between having her own independence and having a connection to a partner. Louise outlines the conflict she feels about wanting to have a partner and at the same time not wanting to give up her independence and freedom. My discussion looks at the stigma of being single and society’s expectations that adults should be married and have a family. I look at reasons why having some degree of independence and focus on oneself is important. I also try to explain some reasons behind Louise’s ambivalence towards relationships and her need for independence.
Chapter 6 - Elizabeth
In chapter 6, Elizabeth talks about the painful experience of divorce and then getting remarried. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, her second marriage was not any better than her first marriage. I try to answer questions about what went wrong in her first marriage and why her second marriage did not result in a better experience.
Chapter 7 - Laura
Chapter 7, Laura, is a story about getting and then losing a father’s love, and then going through a series of romantic relationships. Beneath it all, Laura is coping with the series of rejections she has received throughout her life, starting with her father and then through the series of unsuccessful relationships. My analysis of Laura’s story talks about how Laura was raised as a child and how that affected the kind of person she is today. I also discuss the effect of repeated rejections on one’s personality.
Chapter 8 - Susan
Chapter 8 is Susan’s story, which details coping with her parents’ divorce, abandonment by her mother, and her episodes of bulimia. She spends some time talking about how she started with bulimia and then how it progressed in her life. Eventually she talks about how she got out of her vicious cycle of destructive behaviors and is slowly making some positive changes. My discussion of Susan’s story includes the idea that Susan desired to be unnoticed or invisible. I show how this theme has played out through her life and eventually how she was able to turn her life around.
Chapter 9 - Terri
Chapter 9, Terri, is the story about betrayal and being trapped in a relationship. After Terri betrayed the trust of her boyfriend, she was later forgiven but then became locked in a relationship with a suspicious partner. Terri is confronted with difficult questions about her future and where she would like to go. I talk about trust in a relationship and the importance of trust in making relationships work. I also discuss reasons why Terri might stay in a relationship that is slowly becoming more and more toxic.
Chapter 10 - Matthew
In chapter 10, Matthew talks about being raised by an abusive mother and how being abused affected the kinds of romantic relationships he created. Specifically, how the abuse caused him to be in a loveless marriage for 38 years with an eventual divorce. One important thing I discuss about Matthew is how we are attracted to others with similar experiences. In Matthew’s case, he was attracted to someone who was also abused. I explain why being attracted to someone with similar negative experiences can be destructive.
Chapter 11 - Emily
Chapter 11, Emily, outlines the story of a divorced, single mother. After her divorce, she describes her other failed relationships and her yearning for someone to love. She also describes some of the positive changes she has made in her life since the divorce. My discussion of Emily’s story gives reasons why someone might stay in an abusive relationship instead of leaving. It is some of these same reasons that might keep other lonely people trapped instead of taking the necessary steps towards freedom.
Chapter 12 - Justin
Chapter 12, is the story of Justin. Unlike most donors, Justin grew up in a non-Western country. I am guessing it is either somewhere in North Africa or the Middle East. His story outlines a history of sexual abuse, the lack of love from his parents, and then a series of rejections in his adult life. Justin’s story shows us our basic need to belong and feel connection to others. I discuss this at some length and go on to show when this need is unfulfilled it negatively impacts our life.
Chapter 13 - Jerry
In chapter 13, Jerry discusses how he was left out of various social circles and had to cope with social anxiety. This included his family and classmates at school. Now, as an adult, Jerry finds that he is still treated as an outsider and wonders if his dreams will ever come true. Jerry feels that part of the reason for this is the fact that he is gay and has “unpopular” worldviews. I discuss social anxiety and social phobia and how those things played out in Jerry’s life. In addition, I also discuss some possible social behaviors that Jerry has that are keeping him from establishing meaningful friendships with others.
Chapter 14 - Pat
Chapter 14, Pat, is a story about understanding who you are before getting into a relationship. Pat talks about how his life eventually took a turn for the worse after his marriage. He eventually divorced and discovered something about himself that helped him make positive changes in his life. My discussion of Pat’s story outlines why it is important to understand who you are before getting involved in a relationship. In part, knowing who you are helps you avoid unnecessary outside influences.
Chapter 15 - Celeste
Chapter 15 is the story of Celeste. Celeste describes her sense of isolation from others and thus her feelings of loneliness. She feels like the rest of her family members are moving on with their relationships after the divorce of her parents and she is being left behind. However, she describes ways that she is coping with the isolation. I talk about the different ways that people cope with loneliness including both negative/destructive and positive/constructive coping strategies.
Chapter 16 - Stephanie
Chapter 16 contains two stories of isolation, one from Sandra and the other from Stephanie. Both stories talk about being married but still experiencing a sense of loneliness due to a lack of friendships. I discuss how there are different types of loneliness and just because you have a partner that you love, does not preclude the fact that you might still be lonely. I also show the different origins of their loneliness.
Chapter 17 - Kristin
Finally, chapter 17 is the story of Kristin. Kristin is 18 years old and has experienced a difficult period in her life in which her boyfriend was sexually abusive towards her. She outlines how that abuse affected her relationships with her family and friends. In addition she talks about how she managed to get out of her abusive relationship and make positive changes in her life. In my discussion of Kristin’s story, I discuss how hiding our true selves from others can lead to loneliness. Being authentic and genuine is important to establishing relationships.