The Worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself. Mark Twain
A sense of separateness comes from feeling disconnected from community, families, friends, and our own selves. Lion’s Roar, a bimonthly magazine recently had a full section on loneliness. The introduction showed the number of research studies that are currently being done on loneliness. There are commissions on loneliness and campaigns to end loneliness. The United Kingdom has a Ministry for Loneliness. Loneliness is a hugh societal issue. We are connected to our phones, computers, and virtual relationships, but no longer look each other in the eye or have actual conversations.
One author recommended completing the sentence; Loneliness is a child…. Without consciously thinking of my own childhood I finished the sentence with the first thought that came to my mind. My sentence stated, “Loneliness is a child, in the midst of a family, feeling not seen nor heard–feeling invisible.” After writing this I realized this was my childhood. Much of my adult life has been spent yearning to be seen. I also know that I often feel more lonely in groups of people then by myself. I invite you to complete the sentence without forethought. Write what pops up for you. Write the sentence several times. An interesting exercise to give yourself insight to when you feel lonely.
Natalie Goldberg wrote a piece in this section sharing her sense of loneliness. She states, “Loneliness has followed me all my life……but no one every dared mention the dreaded word loneliness or utter its experience. Did only I feel it? That’s what loneliness is, believing you are alone in the whole world.” Loneliness is something we don’t talk about with others. We often believe we are the only one that feels lonely.
Martha Beck states, “Loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is intact.” It is when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to share our sense of loneliness with another that we begin to feel connected. Taking time to be alone helps us get to know who we are beneath the cultural norms that say we need to do more, have more, be more. Solitude gives us the silence needed to let go of what is not working for us.
May you find time in your days for quiet heartfelt conversations and the stillness silence brings so you may get below the layers of societal expectations.
photo credit, Jeswin Thomas