I spent years battling with the feeling of emptiness. The dysfunctional love I received as a child left me with a fear of attachment and a fear of loss. My head told me that I wouldn’t miss what I didn’t have and to be prepared to let go of anything I did have. My heart of course told me otherwise.
My heart ached. I compared my existence to those around me and saw only their happiness, their success, their sparkling futures. Whilst in my life I focused only on my pain, misery and failure. I didn’t believe in myself, so how could I be good enough for anyone else?
Not liking myself naturally meant that I didn’t like being on my own. Medication and alcohol offered some relief but in they end my depression and alcoholism served only to reinforce my worthlessness and compound my loneliness.
“Loneliness is never more cruel than when it is felt in close propinquity with someone who has ceased to communicate.” ~ Germaine Greer
I had plenty of friends and work colleagues but even they were kept at an emotional distance. Whilst on the inside I yearned for a meaningful relationship, the outside accepted anyone who would give me the time of day. It would be hard to describe these encounters as relationships as that implies some sort of connection or purpose. There was none. And I regularly played the game of ‘someone’s other-half’ even though being in their company made me far more lonely than being single.
Occasionally there would be someone who sensed my vulnerability and made it their mission to rescue me from myself. But the moment they did something nice, treated me well or heaven forbid told me that they loved me I would run. I knew that if I could leave before them before they left me, then it wouldn’t be as painful. Except it always hurt like hell.
When I had a complete mental and physical breakdown my isolation was excruciating. It was something I will never forget, will never return to and would wish on no-one. But I had to face the reality that no-one could make my journey for me.The brokeness was mine. And mine alone. Only I could get sober. Only I could heal.
As faith filled the void left by alcohol so love filled the void of loneliness. Little by little I learnt how to connect with my inner soul and listen to my heart. Through forgiveness of others and of myself I was able to come to a place of peace with my past. And then I was free to live life as my authentic self.
“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” ~ Barabara de Angelis
I discovered that I as much as I appreciated being around others, I also enjoyed my own company. Instead of trying to shut myself out, I embraced who I was and what I was. And it was through this process that I learnt that being alone didn’t have to mean being lonely.
In fact the more I healed, the more I was open to relationships and the less time I spent on my own. The wonderful position I find myself in today is that I am filled with faith and surrounded by friends and family who bring me contentment and joy on many levels. Yet I am not dependent on them to fill any emptiness.
I am now in that privileged place of being able to say that I don’t feel lonely. For me, being alone means to be at ease with oneself. And for anyone who has stayed in a relationship rather than be single, they will know that this is a gift.
Amazingly, where once I would have craved company, I now seek times of solitude. Instead of a need to be in the presence of others, I look for space to be alone. A day is not complete without the experience of a few minutes of serenity.
“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” ~Wayne Dyer
Alone doesn’t have to mean you no longer care for those who have passed. Alone doesn’t have to mean that you no longer care who comes into your future. What it does mean is that today,if you love yourself, alone doesn’t have to mean lonely.
Thanks to Chris Edgar at purposepowercoaching.com for his comment on ‘What’s love got to do with it? which prompted this post. And thanks to the multi-talented Jane Hinchliffe for permission to use her artwork – http://www.etsy.com/shop/JaneHinchliffe