Photo by Jeswin Thomas
On a recent Sunday afternoon, I had time to myself. Which isn’t all that unusual, given that my husband and I are empty nesters and my better half was doing what a lot of men do on Sundays–watching sports on tv.
What was unusual was the feeling that I had. More than boredom, it was a discomfort, as well as a yearning. I felt unsettled. It wasn’t until the next day that I became aware of what I was feeling. It startled me to say, “I am lonely.”
Loneliness is an emotion that has a stigma. If I acknowledge that I’m lonely, I’m marked as a loser. Even a quick online search for the definition of loneliness speaks to this: “sadness because one has no friends or company”.
Yikes! I must really be a loser now. That’s what my Negative Ego would have me believe.
Intellectually, I know that I have many friends. Spiritually, I know that I am not alone. Emotionally, in the moment, it’s easy to have doubts. During that Sunday afternoon, I did feel isolated from others. I also felt disconnected from myself.
Here’s the rub: Experiencing loneliness does not say anything about me as a person.
The truth is that emotions are part of our humanity. They are our birthright. Who hasn’t felt lonely during their lifetime? Loneliness is not a flaw or something to hide from or be ashamed of.
This reminds me of a conversation I had several years ago, with an instructor at a personal development retreat. I was telling her about an issue in my life. She listened carefully and then she said, “Do you know what remorse is?” I looked at her and immediately replied, “Not really.” In my mind, remorse was more than the feeling that I did something wrong. It was an acknowledgment that I am wrong. And who wants that?
The conversation was a gift. Shortly after, I let myself feel remorse–sorry for something I had done–which allowed me to release guilt. My emotions flowed through me, instead of getting stuck inside of me.
Likewise, the day that I realized I was feeling lonely, I let myself feel loneliness and with that, the sadness dissolved. I returned to a sense of well-being.
I’ve been thinking a lot about loneliness. Watch for my next post on this topic soon.
Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata: