Confession: Like Janet Jackson, I Get So Lonely
It comes and it goes like the sun in this unpredictable weather in Atlanta. Or you wake up with it, and it’s still waiting under your covers when you lie down at night. It doesn’t care if the next day it keeps you locked in your room, neglecting your responsibilities. Nor does it have any respect for the Summer and all the fun others will have once it arrives. Even amidst your Brand New season of life it can show up on the scene and promptly rain on your parade. In a room full of people, its presence can be just as real. And regardless of how many virtual friends you have retweeting and liking you, this can bring you to tears.
It is the feeling of loneliness.
It crept right up on me recently. The lonely feeling always comes first, but I tend to miss it focusing on the byproducts — like being bothered that my friend didn’t respond to my text last night, which isn’t normally a big deal. Or cuing up my R&B playlist on Spotify and putting my headphones on as my friends and I made our way back from a long road trip. Like why I couldn’t imagine getting a job in another state even if it was my dream job. Or stressing out over whether a friend is going to forgive me after the argument we just had. Or like looking to someone, (in my case) a female friend, to keep me feeling happy and loved and wondering why my emotions were skydiving every day.
All those thoughts, feelings and fears ran through me because I was lonely then and sometimes I am now. Talking to a good friend the other day, I realized I wasn’t alone in that. She could recall clinging to a best friend back in high school and how much it had crushed her when that friend made a new friend and abandoned her. Sure she was hurt and her friend had done her wrong, but I realized that if she only focused on her friend’s behavior, she’d miss something telling about her own. Why had she put so much stock in that one friend? I didn’t have to ask. I’ve done it with three different friends in the last eight years. And where did it start?
My feeling of loneliness.
Why do we sometimes get mad at our girlfriends for not being the besties we want them to be or feel like they’re using us? Because we want more. (We probably want a man.) Why though? Because we feel lonely. Why does being single feel like the end of the world and being in a relationship seems like the best life has to offer? Because we feel lonely. Why can’t you go pursue a job or some new adventure in another state? Because you feel lonely in the one you’re in, but at least you have a few good friends and a family nearby—too risky to lose that safety net. Why do women begin reconsidering (lowering) their standards for men after a while?
Because we feel lonely.
Sometimes we think we’re being strong by telling ourselves the opposite…”I don’t feel lonely.” But denial is always a disservice. While our state of being may not be real, the feelings are; so, we need to acknowledge that truth. Otherwise it will manifest itself in other forms. For example, I finally discovered why I love films based around love stories so much. I’d told myself that I was content in my singleness, when in reality, my movie and TV show preferences were telling me otherwise! Seems harmless, but I’m using fiction to compensate for my real loneliness! If unchecked, that could spiral into something darker. So, yes that feeling of loneliness is a real feeling. No need to front.
But there is another truth about our real state of being. You are not actually alone. Look around. (Speaking to myself.) There are tons of people around you, whether you know them or not. They are there. And, if you’re like me, you know many of them, but you’re trapped in your own feelings of loneliness. “Loneliness has become your defense against loneliness.” As if that makes any sense. Or you’re scared to talk to strangers, because you bypassed the memo that that’s only a rule for kids and girls out late at night. So what one of your friends can’t hang tonight? Call another one! So what you’re single? Grab a Redbox movie for you and your girls to watch Friday night. Go volunteer somewhere. Take the focus off of you and your feelings, and care for someone else. Then again, even get comfortable with just you, yourself, and you.
While surrounding yourself with other people, entering into a relationship, picking up a hobby, or doing something else more active with others can effectively calm those lonely feelings and thoughts, we also must not become codependent on other people and things for our happiness. That’s why we feel lonely in the first place! We must establish a solid foundation within our own selves. As C.S. Lewis said, ”Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose, only upon [that which] will never pass away.” So, next time those feelings rise up, acknowledge them, so you can take them captive. And tell yourself a truth deeper than you may even realize–“I am never alone.”