“T0 transform the emptiness of loneliness to the fullness of aloneness. Ah, that is the secret of life.” ~Sunita Khosla
We’ve all been lonely at times, but some of us live with it constantly. We cry in the night and hold back tears in the day, hiding it from others. Sometimes we try to tell someone about it, but they don’t hear our pain. They just offer empty remedies when all we want is to be heard with understanding and compassion so we don’t feel so alone. Must we live like this forever? Or is there a way out, a way to feel whole again. Yes. Yes.
Identify: The first step to healing is to identify why you’re lonely. There are some who really don’t know why. They’ve tried all the remedies, but it’s still there. Loneliness can come from many sources; loss of a loved one, divorce, illness, isolation, rejection, loss of a job, etc. Maybe you’re been lonely as far back as you can remember and it feels like a piece of your heart is missing. Perhaps your loneliness is the result of childhood experiences that left you feeling unloved and alone. But once the reason for loneliness is identified, something can be done about it.
Inner work: It’s important to stop resisting your loneliness and allow yourself to be where you are now. You must do the work from where you are. Whenever you feel lonely, it’s your inner child that’s crying, so take some quiet time each day and talk to that child about the feelings–more often when you think of it. Reassure your inner child they are never alone; that you, the adult, are always there with love and comfort. This is especially important when you’re loneliness is the result of a childhood experience from which you never fully recovered.
Creativity: While doing the inner work, use your God-given gift of creativity to help you feel more alive. There’s something uplifting in seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, or tasting something you’ve actually created and saying, “Wow. I created that.” Plant a garden, make quilts or wind chimes, write stories, make something to eat that nobody else knows how to make–anything creative. Better yet, join a group that’s doing something you like to do, or used to like to do before you got lonely. Lonely people are usually tired a lot, so begin slow until your energy picks up. Creativity will bring it back.
When I was working, I had a patient who could no longer bend or stoop due to a back injury. He felt lonely and useless until through therapy, he found a way to lie on the ground, rest his head with one hand, dig in the dirt with the other, and grow a flower garden. One day he brought me a beautiful lily plant he’d grown, and his face was alive with joy. He grinned and told me he didn’t need to cry anymore.
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~Albert Schweitzer
Let people in: You’ve heard that a lonely person just needs to find some friends, be around people. But usually lonely people don’t want to be around others. They can’t face pretending they’re okay when they’re not. But it’s important to be around someone who can listen and understand. If there’s someone like that in your life, swallow your fear and go to them. If not, find a therapist or clergy to be heard and validated. Go slow, and as you feel the loneliness lift, open your heart and reach out to others. They need you too.
You may always miss someone or something you’ve lost. But you don’t have to spend your life feeling the pain of loneliness. You have the ability to “create” a new kind of life for yourself with people you love and many happy adventures ahead of you.
I wish you peace in your heart and a smile on your face.
Marilyn Fowler, Author/Writer of “Silent Echoes”