I am an excellent house-sitter. I feed the pet and soak in the awesomeness of whatever home I’m “sitting” and get paid to do it. It’s usually an easy gig as long as the pet doesn’t get sick and security alarms don’t explode. Recently, I was in a lovely home built for comfort, hosting, and entertainment. The house was bedecked with sky lights and cushy clouds of furniture. There was a curvy pool out back and several luxurious movie rooms.
Briefly possessing such space is rare for me so I decided to invite six friends over (this is considered a 50 person party for me, the dedicated introvert). Sadly it was the weekend where everyone was either busy with other plans or traveling. Well, break out the chocolate and the dancing. Canceled plans are the best!
It was not to be so this weekend. Lately, even before this weekend, I have found myself dreading alone time. Over the last year or so, alone time has shifted into Loneliness.
I said to myself, “Silly Bekah. Bask in the palace of your inner mind. Dive into your Harry Potter book, write a fantasy story, watch a beautiful movie.” But I found myself not enjoying my usual alone time activities. Suddenly I bounced from task to task, hunting for connection and an ability to avoid Loneliness at all costs. I was reminded of that ballroom dance at college where I literally crawled beneath crowds of people to avoid a boy I didn’t want to dance with (back in the day when my verbal boundaries stunk). And I must say that it’s not easy to crawl in a flapper dress, but it can be done!
So after watching the movie 127 Hours, a beautiful film about survival and loneliness (and selfishness, a point not discussed in this blog), I decided to stop running. Like most emotions in my life, Loneliness needs attention too. The more I avoid her, the more she knocks on my door. And so for an evening I gave Loneliness permission to be with me.
Here’s what Loneliness taught me over the weekend. She is uncomfortable, desperate with longing, and she is exhausted. I also found that she is beautiful and a lens for truth.
Uncomfortable Loneliness: Honestly, for me it’s about the physical discomfort of Loneliness. She is the entrance to my paranoia. I haven’t been hugged in a long time. My gut feels fluttery. My nerves are on edge. What if no one really loves me? This is when Loneliness can reveal what’s stirring around my heart when I am quiet enough to listen to the fear.
Loneliness the Desperate: No wonder I want to run from her. She is carrying the luggage of my longings, my desires, and my dreams. Sometimes Loneliness is the bearer of my hope. When I am lonely, I can feel the dam break, and hope for change and dreams floods me up to my eyeballs. I am tempted even now to raise my fist and scream, “Back off! Don’t make me hope!” Hope is scary. Hope means that I want a dream and I may not get it.
Loneliness the Exhausted: She’s been chasing me for years and I have slammed the door in her face. I kept hoping she would be like an annoying saleswoman who would eventually take the hint that I’m not interested in her product. But holy cow patties, Loneliness is persistent. Once I finally gave in to her, I found that she wasn’t the vacuum of dark power that I first thought. She sat across from me and panted for a while, staring at me with a note in her hand, “It’s about time you felt me. Now see what I can do with your life.”
Loneliness the Beautiful: I love to create whether it is painting, writing, or imagining a world. I have found that Loneliness is a great motivator for beauty. Loneliness is not one of the beautiful emotions like joy, calm, contentment. In fact Loneliness’ appearance is raw and her red eyes ask me a question: “What beauty can you create while you feel this way?” Her beauty is her desire to create.
Loneliness the lens of truth: What else am I running from? Depression? One of Loneliness’s friends is depression. But Loneliness is not depression. Loneliness can lead to depression, but (and perhaps I’m speaking for myself) depression is that gray cloud of ilk that makes a person not want to get out of bed and try life. Loneliness, as a carrier of hope, makes me want to try life. To risk. To walk into relationship hoping that I will be known well and can know the other person well.
And perhaps on another rainy day, Loneliness will return to me in her horrid red-eyed gloom. I may make my old mistakes of door slamming and Facebooking/movie watching. Or perhaps Loneliness will come as a softer visitor next time, and I will open the door to her gentle beauty. Perhaps the only reminder I need right now, as a start to my relationship with Loneliness, is that she is not a murderer of hearts. I survived my weekend with Loneliness.
I confess it was not a perfect weekend of embracing emotions. I ate a lot of chocolate and went to therapy on Monday, but it was a start to being present with myself regarding that particular experience and emotion. And from now on I hope that Loneliness will not experience my coldness but rather my curiosity.