Are you big on definitions? Because I am, and here we go.
Lonely as described by dictionary.com means, among a couple other things, destitute of companionship and support, and isolated.
Isolation I like, because I am an introvert, and I frequently choose a sort of solitary confinement at home, where I’m really comfortable. And can be solitary. But it’s also in my home that I am destitute of (adult) companionship and support, because it’s just me and my daughters. What an unfortunate contradiction, right?
Loneliness is a fact of life, though. We all feel it now or later, because it’s a natural occurrence of the human condition. And so I allow myself to go through the emotional dip. I don’t let it shame me. I embrace it, even. Mostly.
“Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better.” — Henry Rollins
I think Henry’s right, it lends some significant moments untouched by others. Too, it’s from out of loneliness that comes a strength dependent on no one else. It’s when you surprise yourself, I’ve learned. Get things done, make yourself proud. Figure out what it means to make your own self happy, and just be you.
But there’s the downside, too. Loneliness breeds a longing for companionship, romantic or otherwise, and for interdependence. That’s something we all need, another fact of life, another part of the human condition—we are not meant to be without it. That’s the kind of loneliness that comes on so strong for me at times, especially during the holidays, and especially when my girls are with their dad.
I do make the most of my “me time.” That’s when I do my best “introverting.” I get stuff done that I can’t give focus to when I have my girls. I watch movies they won’t appreciate, and read a lot. I (sometimes) get sociable (just nothing too crazy). And sure, sometimes I mope.
It’s an interesting awareness, not wanting to be lonely, and having to admit that you are, that you’re in want or need of someone else…
“I’ve got everything I need except a man. And I’m not one of those women who thinks a man is the answer to everything, but I’m tired of being alone.” — anonymous
I had a romantic companion through part of 2014, but timing was off, circumstances were not as I’d hoped. So for now I am without. Though this contributes to my loneliness, it’s okay. I’m okay. I have the utmost faith that it won’t always be this way. (And it’s smart to point out, I think, that I’d rather be alone and a bit lonely than in the wrong relationship, one that’s forced, or unhealthy, or just flat not meant to be for whatever reasons. And I’m glad to feel this way, I can’t tell you how much.) But I do get tired of being alone.
I also know that no one—no one with the fullest house, not with the most “perfect” significant other, not even one who chooses, willingly and happily, to be single or be around no one—will ever live without loneliness.
And so I take it for what it is. Loneliness is an emotion. It’s an experience.
It’s an occasional visitor I both welcome and despise, because of the rounded out perspective it allows during this silly little thing called life.
I’ve been thinking about this quote from John C. Maxwell (I confess I had to look up John C. Maxwell when I first saw this image) as it relates to my life. I’m happily married with two wonderful children who keep me on my toes and fill my life with unspeakable joy. I’m also a writer and as those of you who also pursue this rewarding/frustrating business can concur, it’s often a lonely way to make a living.
Dictionary.com defines lonely as solitary; without company; companionless. Yep, that pretty much sums up my writing life. I have other writing friends and I commiserate with them either online, on the phone, or in person. Those friendships keep me going, but in order for me to get words on the page, I have to spend hours alone. Some days when the words are flowing and I get an email from a reader, the loneliness subsides and gratefulness takes its place. I’m blessed to have the ability to work at home with a supportive family and flexible hours. But sometimes it feels like solitary confinement.
My current situation reminds me of when I quit work when my son was born. My husband and I made the decision to have me stay home and I was overjoyed to be with him all day, every day. It wasn’t long before all day, every day felt like a prison sentence. I went days without speaking to another adult. A grand outing was a trip to the grocery store. I’d phone my husband repeatedly asking,”When are you coming home?”
Just as I sought companionship as a new mother, I can now walk away from the computer and engage with others. I’ve spent the winter in three bible studies (two of which involve homework). I try to volunteer at school (sparingly). And I never miss one of my kids’ activities because I can’t get these years back. Could I pump out more books faster if I ignored my pangs of loneliness and chugged away at the computer? Absolutely. Would I be happy? No. Would the work suffer? Yes.
My point is that no matter your situation, don’t be afraid to join a group or take up a new hobby or step out of your comfort zone. Meet people. Learn something. Be open to new experiences. Life’s about the journey, and the journey always makes for a good story. If you have the time, I’d love to hear about your journey.