Plagued by feelings of loneliness…
When I am not understood.
When I am talking incessantly to fill the gaps of silence.
When I am amongst noisy chatter and laughter.
When I am sitting here, writing.
How many times had loneliness triggered knee-jerk compulsions to seek out people, friendships, and the right kind of tribes? Is there a persistent sense of disappointment with others for not showing up.. again? Or the disappointment with the self for failing to commit to communities or to give ‘enough’ to nurture relationships? To avoid the shame and the stress of relating, you choose to be alone, which in turn affirms your belief that you are lonely. You enjoy being with people, but you don’t hang around for too long for them to know truly who you truly are. Or you might feel like you are in a dark box and no one truly sees you. Yet there is always hope, a hope that one day this loneliness would cease? One day if I find the right partner, friends or group, life would be easier.
Or maybe happier?
Is there a way out?
But the truth is, everywhere I look, there is someone there.
Am I over-fixating on what I want and overlooking something?
I want to be understood in a certain way?
I want to be loved in a certain way?
Does the way exist?”
There is so much to learn in this universal human condition — loneliness. At some point in life, loneliness is a necessary experience. After all, relationships come and go. Children leave the home. Parents pass on. It’s not just the people around us, but we change, we leave, we start anew too. An unhealthy fixation with loneliness perpetuates an endless cycle of disappointment, either with the self or with others. Avoidance of relationships ensues and loneliness persists. A wise and healthy holding of loneliness is the embracing of impermanence, a deep understanding that people will come and go. A surrendering to imperfection and endless desires for more.
Embracing loneliness can become a practice for wisdom.
“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”
– Dr. Wayne Dyer
For many, it takes tremendous work to enjoy your own company. Even introverts who might not seek out people for pleasure could be looking to books, TV or games for companionship. A true non-judgemental companionship with the self is a privileged blessing – it means you have the right time-space and opportunities to assume this lifelong practice. If the invitation has presented itself to you, to be the best friend and companion you could be for yourself, please take it. It will not be easy, as the invitation will look like self-hatred, depression, anxiety or unbearable loneliness. Walking through will mean something. What it is I can’t say for sure. But it will be something.
And may you grow to like the person you’re alone with.
“Loneliness reminds us that we know love.”
– Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu
Ironically, even in those times when one feels deeply connected to the world and common humanity, loneliness doesn’t leave. Beneath the connection arises an intense longing for all fellow human beings to share in this experience. “How I wish everyone knows what this feels like.” Sometimes, the more one can sense the world’s richness, aliveness, sadness, and pain, the lonelier one can feel. But this sense of loneliness is somewhat more spacious and loving. A necessary bittersweetness to nourish our life experiences and to understand life; to appreciate life. Or maybe this loneliness is really the collective emotion of the world.
A deep knowing that coming together also means saying goodbye.
“We are in a universe of our own, alone.”
What does it mean to fall into loneliness? It’s about falling into the human condition of impermanence, of non-truth. To fully grasp that the reality of experience is only held by the experiencer – only can be observed by the observer. And it is never going to be true for anyone else. We are in a universe of our own, alone. And we accept the grief of this condition. It is the same grief that binds us together as human beings. We are different but the same. Compassion and love arise from this understanding which then… connects us.
We are not alone in this lonely world. There is no contradiction. It’s potential to be lived. Don’t avoid. Don’t resist. Don’t be afraid.
Walk right through.