This blog is dedicated to the lonely. Even the lonely who have partners.
Have you ever felt really lonely?
I mean that kind of loneliness where you lie awake at night and your chest pulses with soft ache and your heart slowly burns as some persistent thought insists you’re destined to go through this lifetime alone, that you’re never going to find The One – or even anyone – in whose loving arms you’ll finally experience … Home?
One late autumn many years ago, I was canoeing in the Canadian North Woods when I heard a faraway loon’s evocative cry float despondent across the still, dark surface of a vast lake. The haunting sound of its longing sank into me like winter sadness. I’ve never forgotten it.
It’s the sound my heart whispers out through my chest when I feel my aloneness severe.
Have you ever experienced this kind of loneliness?
You might have experienced it lying next to someone. Maybe even your husband or wife. That kind of loneliness can be torture. To be so close to a Bliss that refuses to let you in.
We’ve all felt such deep loneliness, regardless how or to what degree. It’s a byproduct of the human experience called “separate.” I’ve felt it plenty. Both alone and in bed with my partner. I felt it last night, alone. It visits me for various reasons.
For years I’ve distracted myself from facing whatever that ache really is by pursuing unhealthy relationships, engaging in empty flings and empty promises, desperate online dating, medicinal masturbation and eating sugar … lots and lots of sugar. I’ve made girlfriends responsible for fixing it once and for all. As mere mortals who don’t have such powers, I would blame them when it showed up again. I’ve also drowned myself with work, arrogance, porn, denial, even spiritual seeking; all so that I would have neither time nor energy to acknowledge its gnawing presence.
Since last summer, though, I’ve been cutting out most of that behavior (except a lot of that sugar). As I discover ever more what it means to honor my life as a masculine Man, I realize I must turn into and face this loneliness that stalks me like death, and that I can trace back to my earliest memories. Not to conquer it, but to embrace it and explore whatever wisdom must lie beneath its menacing mask.
So I have decided to get intimate with it, to invite it in and ask it questions.
I want to know it.
Not every day all the time – for I far more enjoy being my enthusiastic playful self. But when it clearly wants to come in, I allow it.
“If you want to get rid of something, you must first allow it to flourish.” ~ Byron Katie
When it shows up, as it did last night, I breathe with it. I ask what it believes. This is what it tells me: “I’m unlovable. Not good enough. Unworthy. Forever separate from everyone else, from Life, itself. Therefore no one will ever truly touch or know my true heart. I’m destined to be alone for all my days, and there’s nothing to do about it.”
Intellectually, I know it’s insane, this reclusive pain. Though it might be right about the last part. I might be destined to live out my days alone. How can I know?
Anyway, I just breathe with it. I give my chest freely to this ache and let it weep without trying to make it go away. I even agree with it, thinking silently, “Ok, fine, so this is basically how it’s always going to be. Me, alone in bed at night and through my days. Forever. So be it.”
And I let it cry.
I watch this passing weather. I breathe.
Within a short time, a few minutes, it dissipates like a dark storm cloud that has shed all its rain. The sun may not immediately return, but the ache settles and I feel my body whole again.
I notice I’m cozy in my warm bed, deeply grateful for the life I got to live today. I think of all the amazing friends I have and the brilliant, beautiful women I’ve been fortunate to know and experience love with in this lifetime.
At this point, even though I’m alone, my hope will often flicker as the sweet-tasting thought quickly returns that there must be a good woman on this planet right now dreaming up someone just like me. Even through my doubting, I can feel her presence. And when she shows up, I think to myself, this ache will surely never return. Of course, I know better now, so I remind myself that it probably WILL return in a moment of sudden disconnect and fear. Such moments happen. In partnership and without.
Hopefully, facing and embracing this loneliness now will help me breathe into it then and not make it anyone’s fault. After all, it’s just weather passing. Insane weather, perhaps. Still just weather.
Then, as I lay thoughtful and alone in my bed, my awareness quickly fading, I turn excitedly towards my nighttime Dream-Team, curious to experience whatever epic adventures they’ve prepared for me this night. They never let me down.
And I sleep.
Happy Valentine’s Day.