“A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings.” ~Mandy Hale
I feel so alone right now. Like, crawling out of my skin, I’ll do anything I can do to not feel this way alone.
I haven’t felt this way in a long time. It’s a blessing that I have the tools and resources to care for myself. Let me explain.
My earliest childhood memory is my mother’s empty bed. They are untucked and dirty, with sheets that are not tucked. The cover of the duvet is loose, and hangs half-way on the ground. The room is quiet, there’s no sign of mom, and I am all alone.
That’s when I met loneliness for the first time. It was when I was three and a half years old, my mother had just died.
Before I understood what was happening, loneliness struck me. When I was vulnerable, unprotected, and without protection, it struck me deep within my soul.
As I got older, loneliness made me feel unworthy and different—as if I was the only person in the world that felt that way. I felt flawed and deficient, and it loved to take me by surprise.
It was overwhelming to be in that headspace and I wanted it to end. Yes, that’s what I admitted. I used to binge-watch television and emotionally eat. I also played video games and watched pornography.
I didn’t have the emotional tools to ride out the discomfort of feeling alone, so I made myself feel better the only way I knew how—by numbing out.
If I had a tough day at work, I’d come home and “escape” my feelings with television. If a girl I was interested in didn’t show interest in me, I’d watch porn so I didn’t have to deal with my fear of abandonment and loneliness.
At first glance, it seemed like a simple solution: be at ease in solitude. Ha! That’s like telling someone who wants to lose weight “Just eat less and move more.”
It would be so easy to let go of the patterns that have made us suffer. This is why healing and self-intimacy aren’t for the faint of heart.
It’s called inner work for a reason. I digress.
What I discovered was that my “pattern” of escaping was actually a coping mechanism. Although I tried to help myself in an unhealthy way, it was a coping mechanism.
Fear of being alone was too overwhelming for me to conquer so I turned to television, food and video games to manage my anxiety. I used television, food and video games to calm my inner anxieties.
And it wasn’t even conscious. I didn’t wake up each day thinking, “I’ll watch porn today to escape my feeling of loneliness.”
Actually, the exact opposite was true. Each night, I’d go to sleep claiming that I had stopped this behavior and then I would repeat it the next morning.
It was default programming that was running on its own—until I slowed down toBe I was able to see the truth of what was going on. My patterns changed as soon as this courageous act was done.
With the help of a mentor, I’ve developed a practice where I connect with loneliness rather than run away from it. Because loneliness is part and parcel of all the characters who live within each of us.
When I feel like this, I create a list with five to ten questions. For example, “Why are you here?” Is there anything you can teach me? Will I be okay if I just sit in the discomfort of what’s coming up for me? After that, I allow loneliness to come up to me. I also interview my most fearful thoughts. It is important to work with the relationship, not run from it.
My loneliness makes me realize that I am complete and whole just as I am. When I feel lonely, my mother is always there. I have often thought about her and returned to the place of a small boy in order to tell him that everything is fine and to remind him how much his mom loves him.
Although I shed many tears at first, after some time I felt less depressed and no longer felt the need to long. I actually began to like being alone. It’s amazing, I know!
This got me thinking—what if our patterns of binge watching TV, checking out on social media, watching pornography, etc. are well-intentioned? They are there for us.
Humans play this game constantly. Our emotions are managed by distractions, overload, busyness, overindulgence, food, alcohol and pornography. To feel better inside, we use things outside.
What I’ve realized is that management is a defense—a protector trying to help. It’s innocent and wonderful in its own way. Yet, real help only comes when we go within and meet what’s going on inside of us.
Loneliness doesn’t go away. It’s a part of who we are.
It’s a normal human emotion and can teach us a lot about ourselves. This can help us to be patient and teach us the value of self-love.
This is a process that takes time. It’s a process.
So the next time you feel the twinge of loneliness creeping in, don’t try and run from it. Instead, accept it as it is and you will see your life transform for the better.
I felt lonely and wanted to drown my feelings. I gained confidence in my ability to live alone.
It’s your choice. You can choose self-pity, or self-love.
Today, I intend to shift that relationship. Let’s take the article at its beginning.
My wife is away on a work trip for the next twelve days, and I’m feeling isolated and alone. Rather than binge watch television or escape via porn, I’m going to reconnect with loneliness by simply sitting with it and see what it has to teach me.
How are you handling your feelings and fears? What can you do to overcome your fears and feelings?
Zachary is a writer and coach. He also loves to help others. He writes about his personal experiences with holistic health, inner-child work, addiction recovery, spirituality and fatherhood. His coaching is devoted to helping people experience deep fulfillment in relationships, career, and life. His email address is zacharygoodson.com.
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