When I look back, there haven’t been many times in my life when I have been alone. I moved a lot and went to a lot of different schools which had it’s own challenges, but one of the perks was that I got to meet a lot of people and fostered many deep friendships – more than I would have staying in one place.
I have had countless “other mothers” and pseudo dads and best friend’s families that supported me alongside my own. I’ve been in enough relationships, and through as many heart breaks, as well as virtually alone even though I have friends peppered all over the world.
Yet, I somehow still manage to have felt lonely. The kind of lonely where you are at a party talking to someone and not hearing a word they are saying – that anyone is saying. The loneliness that tells you the people who asked you to hang out pity you. That one that tells you not to go out even though you were the one asking what was going on tonight.
It’s hard. We’ve all been there. It makes you feel out of place, like you are unwanted or unworthy. We put the people we know on a pedestal and forget about processing our own experiences. Our own needs.
But like most things there is a lesson to be learned. Sometimes a few, and I’m here to impart some “wisdom” for those times when you are feeling like every person who understands you is on an island.
. . .
LISTEN TO THE LONELY
Loneliness is a lack of something. Often we associate it with the company of others, because that is what we have been told to associate with emotional fulfillment. In my experience, this isn’t true. Alone has been too closely linked with lonely. There are recognizable differences. One is a physical presence and one is a spiritual presence. More often than not, we are feeling this because of ourselves.
I think Rupi Kaur nailed it. Often we are so focused on what we need from others that we forget what we need from ourselves. What are you lacking? What do you need from you?
NURTURE THE LONELY
Once you figure out what you’re needing – or at least a ball park – try and put some gentle action towards that. Maybe you need a yoga practice but don’t have the head space or place, a good way to start would be some general stretching – feel your body as you move, even if it’s just to put your hands above your head. Maybe you have too many thoughts going on in your head – ideas, feelings, theories. Try to empty out the things you don’t need. Put some of your ideas in bullet point. Write down your grocery list. Set aside some time and free write to clear up some space. Connect to that need and match it to your own capacity. No step is too small and you don’t have to put in the perfect effort to start a good routine.
GROW WITH THE LONELY
Intense, long feelings do not go away over night. These things take time to grow and they will take time to chip away at too. Some days you will hit a tender spot. Some days you will be able to take out a good chunk and walk around with a weight off your shoulders. Remember that we contain ourselves, and those spaces you create will be filled with something else. Try to focus on what you want instead of what you have lost. Be easy with yourself as you nurture parts of you that maybe have not seen kindness in a while.
BE PATIENT WITH THE LONELY
As stated before, these things take time. Try to understand that the frustration you feel at a lack of immediate change is because you recognize there needs to be change. Let yourself breathe. Fill your time with things that make you feel good as you fill yourself. Have a glass of wine, sit in a bathtub for 2 hours, spend your day off reading, delete the phone numbers and photos, and don’t be afraid of the thoughts that come right after you turn off the light. It is okay to turn it back on and write them down. You are allowed to take those 5 minutes, the 5 years, the however long you need to be able to find a friend in yourself and to sink into forgiveness.
Written by Forest Greenwell