Loneliness. It creeps up in little moments of insecurity, maybe after a couple nights of insomnia, after drinking ill-timed wine, in crowded places or quiet living rooms.
It’s sneaky, finding ways to slip around my defensive arguments of: “But my life is so blessed; I’m so fortunate!”
When it settles in, it finds all kinds of ways to justify its presence.
Fact: I’m alone.
There must be some reason I’m alone, because I’d prefer not to be. I’d choose not to be if I could, but I cannot.
I must be alone because I deserve it.
I’m so flawed I’ve failed at two marriages and an additional tentative but genuine attempt or two in between.
Loneliness nods at me: Yup. See? I belong here.
It’s no further evolved than when primitive peoples, upon hearing thunder, deduced that the gods were angry. The fears were then justified, as was the conclusion that maybe someone should be punished before things worsened.
When I’ve begun to accept I’ve lost the latest illogical war with Loneliness, Guilt sidles up, reminding me that I should be happy. Others in “my situation” have it worse, after all. At least I’ve significantly grown through experience, built a friendly co-parenting relationship my girls’ dad and stepmom; I have a rewarding job with phenomenally amazing people. My family is supportive. I only worry a little about feeding my kids and keeping shoes on their feet. I’ve even managed to cultivate a budding relationship with endless potential but no stressed, unseasonal rush to get there. I should be happy.
I have no right to complain, and if I insist upon feeling lonely it’s my own fault.
I suppose some of this tear-spilling silliness is rooted in convoluted childhood messages of God’s judgment and grace. I accepted as fact the paradoxical and impossible dual messages of spiritual forgiveness of imperfection and church communities’ human expectations of perfection.
When bad things happened to church families, folks prayed for them… but thought there might be some hidden sin which provoked God’s punishment. Quiet head-shaking and renewed efforts to follow the code ensued. Looking over our shoulders for lurking wrath was even worse than the suspicious: “You better watch out, you better not cry…” for kids around Christmastime. Like God, Santa is all-knowing and only brings toys for good little girls and boys.
I guess it’s time for a little more growing up. There is no Santa, the gods are not angry, and Grace is the same thing as being continually, pervasively wrapped in love… a love that sees only beauty, no matter what.
Loneliness is okay sometimes. Instead of accepting it as a foreboding Eeyore-esque cloud, I can appreciate its occasional reminders that people are important. Connections to my family, friends, and strangers at the market are worth the investments of time and growth.
Reflection is essential to my well-being and ability to extend love to others. Time alone with myself is critical to best loving others.
Thanks, Loneliness, for reminding me how much I treasure my loved ones, and how best to do so. You’re not so bad when I know your tricks.
Thank you, Grace, for gently calling out my best, re-directing my assumptions about Loneliness, and for dousing Guilt’s lies with brighter truth.
Peace, gratitude, and happiness radiate from within. Take that, logical fallacies!
I’m going to bask a bit in this most nourishing, love-filled space.