Loneliness is one of the most pervasive pains in our society. Yet, “I’m feeling lonely” are words shared infrequently between people. There is a certain uncomfortableness and negative connotation associated with being lonely. Loneliness is very personal.
“Have You Ever Been Lonely?”
Remember the song? Most of us have experienced various episodes of loneliness. Pause for a moment, reflect on your loneliest times. Where were you? Why were you lonely? What were the circumstances of your life at that time? What did you do about your loneliness?
You were married, unhappily, and both of you were sitting together – disconnected Christmas, your birthday, Valentines – and no special person to share it with.
The day of your divorce; you went, and felt, alone.
You came home from work, tired and frustrated, or you just got a raise, and nobody was there to share it with. Your last child went off to college; the “empty nest syndrome” was felt.
Sitting in a lounge wishing someone would say “how are you?” – and mean it.
A loved one passed on, resulting in an empty heart.
Sunday afternoon, you are alone and thinking “everyone else is with a caring someone”
“Feelings” is another song that evokes emotion. Loneliness exists, accompanied by a myriad of feelings – depression, anger, fear, hurt and isolation. Negative, hurtful feelings can lead to disastrous consequences. Oftentimes, people cope with loneliness in very self-defeating ways. They build “fences” around themselves so that they are not vulnerable to another person. They turn to the “unconditional love” of pets instead of people. They do not let anyone love them so they eat or smoke too much, turn to drugs, drown their sorrows with alcohol, do emotionless “one-nighters.” The malls and movies get their share of people killing time, hiding with the masses. Television helps dull the empty feelings of loneliness.
“Bridge Over Troubled Waters”
There is a bridge over these painful waters of loneliness. Loneliness actually can be a unique springboard to expand self-understanding, personal growth, and happiness. Enhanced self worth, personal responsibility, creativity, and spirituality all can result from loneliness – if a person will do the necessary introspection. Loneliness is not to be run away from, rather it is to be fully embraced.
Clark Moustakas, in a wonderful book entitled LONELINESS, says “ loneliness is within life itself, and all creations in some way spring forth from solitude, meditation, and isolation.” These moments “give an individual the opportunity to draw upon untouched capacities and resources and to realize oneself in an entirely unique manner.”
Loneliness is a necessary condition for developing one’s full potential of personhood.
You must be able to be alone with yourself, independent, before you can truly connect at a deep level with another. Otherwise you have a needy co-dependent relationship that will run out of gas and result in greater loneliness.
Being alone, sometimes lonely, and taking responsibility for one’s own existence and ultimate happiness is terrifying for some, freeing and challenging to others. Accept the opportunity for growth and loneliness will be a facilitating ally.
“You come into this world alone, you go out alone. Along the way you hold hands with various people,
for different periods of time, in varying degrees of intimacy,
but ultimately, you are alone”
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates