I was thinking of Valentine's Days past this morning. And how, at the height of feeling trapped in a toxic relationship and looking around at a life I'd cultivated where I was Caretaker Supreme, secretly, poisonously resentful of my dependents, no clue what healthy love or boundaries looked like, I wrote in my journal: God, I'd love to feel lonely right now.
photo by Irina Vorotyntseva
After my divorce I got my wish. And as the saying goes: be careful what you wish for! I quickly learned that feeling lonely was much harder for me than feeling smothered. Mainly because even in my most suffocated moments, I believed I could slip out the backdoor and set myself free. I felt, on some level, in control of the decision to stay or go.
Loneliness, on the other hand, felt like a kind of brokenness that was completely out of my control to fix.
One of the reasons loneliness can feel daunting and hard to heal is because we often make an unconscious link in our minds between loneliness and relationship status. If I want to remedy my loneliness, I have to find someone to fall in love with.
If we’re struggling to heal, it’s usually because we haven’t chiseled down to the true root of the issue; we haven't found the precise name for what we’re dealing with. The concept of loneliness is sweeping and overwhelming. If we tether the solution for our loneliness to another person, it will also feel inherently out of our control to attain.
When our problems feel solutionless our despair increases.
Many of us are not just dealing with loneliness. We are dealing with despair because our loneliness feels too vast to understand or heal and the solution feels out of our hands.
If we reframe the sentiment: “I’m lonely”, to: “I feel disconnected”, suddenly we’re dealing with a more precise pain point that has a clear opposite. If we’re feeling disconnected, we can ask ourselves: What can I do in my life to feel more connected?
When we ask the right questions, everything has the chance to shift from impossible to possible. We begin to realize how scarce our old definition was.
We don’t just experience connection through being with other people!
We feel connection anytime we give the fullness of our attention and our love to the experience at hand and allow ourselves to be immersed without distraction. Connection is about the quality of attention and wholeheartedness we bring to any situation. It’s not about what we get or don’t get from the other person.
We can connect with so many other aspects of life beyond other people. We can connect with a pet, a good book, an inspiring piece of music, a nature walk, a creative project we love.
Most important of all: we can connect with our own Souls through creating a daily meditation practice.
Eckhart Tolle once wrote: “Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding from the world.” So many of us are dying on the desert island of our perceived loneliness while the treasure chest of our own Souls lies at our feet.
When we take our relationships with ourselves as sacredly as the value we place on the concept of a relationship with someone else, life comes alive for us. We shift from needing someone else in a vague, disempowered way to feeling our oneness with all of life and the limitless possibility therein.
We don’t need to fear our loneliness or overcome it. We just need to transform our limited understanding of it and step into deeper connection with the experience of life unfolding all around us, at all times.
Your healing is my healing and my healing is your healing.
Rooting for you always! Mary
PS: follow along and share more insights together throughout the week :) on my IG: @marywelchofficial