Don’t surrender your loneliness
So quickly.
Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,

My need of God


I write a gratitude list every day.  It’s online through email, and there are several participants. I love it for many reasons. One is, of course, how it helps me to see each day what I can be grateful for. It also gives me insight into the others on the list, what is going on in their lives. Sometimes it’s just a list of stuff, other times they, and I, get more specific, breaking down what the gratitude is.

Tonight I wrote this on my list (among other things):

“That when i went into the bakery today the guys who worked there were so friendly, and one of them told me that as i walked up the other guy said..”oh I like her, yeah!”. I told them I thought I might have liked it better if he had said “hey she’s hot”, but..wtf
The truth is not that I go there very often…but that when i do go I am friendly and nice and I chat and engage them. This is very new behaviour for me. I do it all the time now. One part of me thinks it’s awesome and the negative part of me finds it sad….like i’m so lonely i have to talk to strangers.”
Maybe a little too much info, going a little out of the gratitude box there? It’s exactly what I was feeling, am feeling.
I have been congratulating myself lately on how I have been engaging people, being more responsive in ever day life. It’s new for me. I used to be the person who would ignore the greeting from a store clerk, or barista..you know, give me my coffee and zip it buddy, you could care less if I am having a nice day, and I certainly don’t care if you are. REALLY obnoxious behavior, I know. Not proud of it. I have worked on this though, and, like I said, have been proud of the changes I am seeing.  People in stores I frequent actually remember me, like in the above mentioned bakery.
So where did that feeling come from, that it’s sad and pathetic? I don’t really think it’s sad and pathetic in the immediate sense, but in the bigger picture, what I said, what I feel, is true. I am lonely.
I am really lonely.
I think living in the apartment is a big part of that. Down-sizing my life. No more son living with me. Just here with my stuff, just here with me. It has been an adjustment, and, please, not all bad. I love living smaller. The place is great, I clean up my messes quickly, I answer to no one, not even just the constant constraints of home ownership. I’m in a great area where I’m a minute away from most places I need or want to go. I can go on and on about the good things…I am truly grateful.
But all of those things also point up just exactly how alone I am.
And, who am I kidding, this time of year….jesus. I am bombarded by happy families and lights and things that point up my alone-ness. It has been bad since Tom died, but I had the kid. I keep thinking about waking up xmas morning with no one.  AND then I just shoe that thought from my mind before I go crazy, right?
I don’t want this post to be a pitiful thing. Its really not. I think it’s more of an acknowledgment of something that I haven’t been willing to look at in a deep way. A call to lean into that sword of loneliness and learn from it.
“Don’t surrender you loneliness so quickly. Let it cut more deep”. Right, lean in. Feel it, allow it to do it’s work on me. Be aware of it. There are lessons in everything.
“Something missing in my heart tonite has made my eyes so soft, my heart so tender,….” my responses to strangers and friends alike more honest and open. I am kinder, or trying to be. More compassionate. Everyone is lonely in their own way.  Ram Dass says “we are all just walking each other home”, and that’s the truth. My loneliness causes me to reach out more, look for ways to be helpful, and that is a good thing.
My loneliness does make my need of god absolutely clear, Hafiz has it right. That sacred space, that deep hole, that yearning that calls out to be filled. Loneliness, like everything else, is an illusion. Feelings are just feelings, not facts. I look around at the amazing group of friends that I have somehow cultivated, that I am so lucky to have, and the illusion of loneliness is shattered.
If I am feeling lonely there is action to be taken, calls to make, yoga,  baristas to chat up, solution. Always a solution.
I am not finished exploring this, there are different kinds of lonely, and more work to be done. I no longer think it’s sad to talk to strangers though. It’s awesome, and I am going to continue to do it.  I am very grateful that I am able to talk to strangers, to feel comfortable enough to do that without the crutch of a couple of drinks in me to ease the way. That is new behavior too.  That ease in talking to strangers should help with the big lonely, the I am alone lonely. So might some action, some effort in meeting new people…(let’s get real, new men).
Lean into THAT sword a bit.  OY!




Add yours →

  1. I’m rarely alone but not immune to loneliness. I think it has to do with feeling invisible. I love the Hafiz poem! Connection is the cure.

  2. This made me think of what I think about a lot: how we are all practicing at life. How you are a beginner at living by yourself in your very own place. How it will take practice to feel good at it, to feel OK with it. *hugs* This is a rough time of year, I send you love and support. xoxoxo

  3. Love this, as I too can still be surrounded by loved ones and such and still feel lonely. I get waves of it at times and I take it for what it is. Like you, it’s not so much pitiful stuff like I had in my active days, but just acknowledgement. It stings way less than it did, and then I start to ask myself things like “what have *you* done to connect with people in the last week or so?”, “how many times have *you* picked up the phone and just dialed someone?” and then it backs off a bit. I am often alone because I choose to be alone, frankly. And that’s ok with me at this point in my recovered life. I have my family and a small group of friends. I have people I know in meetings and I have my online posse here. I have folks at work I get along with. But in the end, I have to be fine with myself, by myself, in those moments where it’s just me and the Creator. At least that way, I am never alone.

    Thank you for this – love your writing 🙂


  4. This post is beautiful. It speaks volumes to me that you were able to articulate this. For me, I find me when I read you. I am grounded again in my moments of lonely. You remind me it is okay to lean into the sword. The feeling, has a place to take me, that can heal me if I let it.

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