By Peter Ehrlich

How many times have we spent 45 minutes in a video store, only to walk out with nothing but a cloud over our head darker than the one we walked in with?

Lots, I bet. Write me and tell me I'm wrong.

Often, spending Saturday night alone again because our children are away from us and we are lover-less, the only thing we end up renting is a deeper depression.

On a recent weekend this single dad realized that he goes to the video store as much to be with other people as to rent a movie. How pathetic and lonely is that?

I also admit that what propels me to go food shopping is not a hunger for food but rather a hunger to be with other human beings. I'm starving for company.

The woman behind the fish counter serving me snapper must wonder why I'm so bloody friendly; to the point of complimenting her on the layout of the fish on the ice.

I don't need to see a psychiatrist for this evaluation – I'm lonely.

Loneliness is part of the single-parent journey. We have only ourselves to depend on, seldom have anyone to touch us and when our children are away we are forced to gaze upon toys and clothes that haunt us by their stillness, bedrooms that feel more like mausoleums than places of joy.

As single parents we're likely to feel like failures even though we accept that the universe unfolded as it should. But don't most of us feel that we failed our kids in some way?

Feelings of rejection and failure can fuel loneliness and create a cycle that can take over our lives and get in the way of being a good parent because we know that parenting should be practised with a smile.

Not taking steps to alleviate our loneliness can easily result in our lives resembling a German minimalist film that Dieter of SNL's "Sprockets" fame would enjoy presenting, or something the late Ingmar Bergman would have enjoyed directing, a film that would make The Seventh Seal feel like a Marx Brothers adventure.

Here are some steps we can take so our lives better resemble the ending of It's a Wonderful Life:

Get a pet. (I don't have one but because my last two girlfriends gave their pets equal space in the bed with me, there must be something special about them.)

Take a cue from your children – invite another single parent and their child(ren) for a sleepover.

Find someone who needs your kindness and offer it.

Get out your photo album. A recent scientific study showed that nothing, not chocolate, sex or booze, lifts one's spirits more than looking at happy pictures.

Go to Lush, buy a Sex Bomb and throw it in your bath. If you're not going to have sex, at least you can say you were prepared.

Put away the drugs, not because drugs are always a bad thing, but they are a bad thing when you're not feeling good about your life.

Exercise a lot. It solves so much.

Accept the path that brought you to this column.

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