Loneliness is such a universal ‘feeling’ – yet despite its universality – or because of it – it is quite a subjective thing.
I’m now in my mid forties – I celebrated my 45th birthday this Feb 6th and I couldn’t be happier in my life. I feel loved, appreciated, successful, proud, accomplished, healthy. Lots of positive things. BUT – there are some times when that ‘loneliness’ feeling creeps in. And it’s a different feeling now than what it used to be or MEAN for me.
I’ve had lots and lots of years to screw up, break up, break down, lose it all, gain it all, lose it all again, break my heart, break someone’s heart, fail, succeed, fail again. And through this time I’ve felt lonely many, many times. Some of the more obvious times were when I was a single parent and not in a supportive or loving relationship. And sometimes as a single parent in a relationship, but one that was lonelier than not being in a relationship at all. I’ve been lonely after some breakups, but felt more free than lonely after others. I’ve suffered the BIG heartbreaks where it feels like lonely will consume me whole and trap me into a pit of darkness and despair. I’ve also felt lonely when everything is just perfect and I just get this sense of ‘longing’ – and I don’t even know where that sense comes from sometimes. I’ve felt lonely when people I love have just not been able to see past themselves and hurt me badly because of it. I’ve felt lonely when my children have grown up so fast they don’t need me to tie their shoes anymore. And this list goes on an on.
Lonely as a word is pretty much understood by us all, but what does it REALLY mean?
It’s often viewed as a negative, or bad experience and it’s used to motivate you into creating relationships when perhaps you really just needed to stay in the lonely for a while. For a word that is used a lot on our culture, I find that it is vastly misunderstood.
At the age I’ve managed to get myself to now, I’ve started to realize that life, in it’s whole experience of ups and downs, yes’s and no’s, cries and laughter and good and bad is what it is all about. It is EVERYTHING to feel your humanity in both good and bad situations and feelings. I’ve learned that failure – something I used to deem as a ‘bad’ thing, is actually the best gauge of success. The more you fail means the more you have been out there doing and being and experimenting. Failure is just a leveling up, a way to become more of who you are. Become stronger, wiser, braver, smarter and more confident. Failure is the #1 teacher who will bring you to you. It will teach you who you are and if you listen, it will give you the biggest gift of all: Acceptance of you, just as you are, every day.
It’s tough for many of us to wrap our heads around that. But as I’ve realized, there is no interesting person out there that does not have a story to tell that is full of failures. The thing with these people is that they made failure their friend and they learned to lean into it, learn from it and use it as a step stool to get to the next level of experience and understanding. If you question this at all, the next time you hear an inspiring speaker, or fall in love with a person who is honest and real – take a moment to realize that what you are in awe of is this person’s journey. Parts of it will reflect to you things you have experienced, but what you are really admiring is the person’s ability to tell their story from a place of strength. And the only reason they can do that is because they have befriended it.
Now, back to loneliness – it tends to live in the same house as failure. It’s often misunderstood, avoided at all costs, discriminated against in favour of things like love and romance and friendship. But, this feeling, as with failure is a powerful ally if you allow yourself to sit down with it and have a cup of tea and listen to what it has to say.
Lonely – That big aching emptiness inside that just yearns to be filled. The place that is unsettled, yearning, reaching, and not quite getting there. It’s an ‘almost there’ feeling that just knows it’s never going to actually GET there. It’s a sometimes bitter, angry, hurt, victimized and pouty feeling. It has many faces, but it always means one thing:
I am simply not enough
I know, I know. You can probably argue that statement 50 different ways and tell me all the wrongs that have been done to you, all the sadness you have endured and all of the leavings and abandonment you have survived. But – if you go deeper, that truly is the only thought that matters.
“I am simply not enough” – if you say that sentence out loud, you will feel loneliness right there with you immediately. It doesn’t even matter what is going on around you, if you are happy or sad, in a relationship or not, rich or poor. It truly just comes down to how you feel about you.
Just like with that word FAILURE, here is where we have the opportune time to get to know ourselves and to learn about ourselves.
Lonely – are you really lonely? Or have you just convinced yourself you are not enough from whatever ‘thing’ has happened to you?
I’m going to suggest, as with failure, that you make this word your friend. If it has been tugging at you, pestering you, annoying the crap out of you lately, then why don’t you just sit down with it and listen to what it has to say.
Lonely just wants you to love you. Lonely just wants you to believe in you. Lonely wants you to know that you are just PERFECT as you are and WHERE you are. Lonely understands your fears, and understands your failures ( it lives in the same house with them after all) Lonely just wants you to know that the only one who has abandoned you is you.
Shall I give you a minute to digest that? It’s a pretty hefty concept to let in. But it’s truth is solid. Everything we experience starts with us. Everything. What we do with the things we experience are all choices, every day, every minute, every second.
So, would it be too farfetched of me to suggest that perhaps instead of pushing loneliness away, you embrace it and learn how to let yourself in to you?
I promise you, from my own experience, this does work. The magic that is real when you decide to accept yourself, love yourself and honour your self cannot be more fulfilling, intimate and ultimate. It’s what we all yearn for but don’t even know it. Once you find your way here, relationships come easier, communities start to form around you and connections come naturally. In fact, you are left with less and less reasons or excuses for why you COULD be lonely.
Funny how that works hey? When ‘they’ say it all starts with YOU, it really is true.
So, I encourage you. Make a choice to see that lonely feeling a bit differently. Take a chance on it and try it out. What do you have to lose? Well, okay – you might lose your friend lonely for a while – but lonely is quite ok with that. It will come back periodically to remind you to pay attention to YOU, but it won’t mind how long you stay away. It won’t mind, because it loves you just as you are, where you are and WHO you are.
You may just find that by hearing lonely out, and learning about you, you will find exactly what it is you have been yearning for and looking for for all these years.