Loneliness Part II
June 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’ve been thinking more about this topic, the topic of loneliness.
I realise that loneliness creeps into people’s lives through various avenues. For some people, though I can’t say for all, I believe loneliness arises from a genuine fear of connection. This fear of connection, closeness, intimacy, or whatever one wishes to call it develops because of the past experiences we’ve had. It can arrive one day that it may feel safer to stay on your lonesome. We become the lone cowboys of our lives, strong and silent; we ride through life on horseback, not stopping to unsaddle and meet others face-to-face, we refuse to put our feet to the sand.
When I look back on my life, I see pivotal moments that made me lose trust: my best friend in university who abruptly stopped contact with me, one day gliding past me in our class on Chomsky to sit elsewhere from then on; or my highschool grad date who, the night before the ceremony, changed his mind, leaving me scrambling to find another companion; or my grade 12 boyfriend who left one day for Mexico, and never contacted me again.
Those experiences and their accummulation over time can harden into a story that people are just unreliable, or that we are just plain unlikeable. And from then on, once that story has been crystallized, we’re probably not going to reach out much anymore. Our body, and our heart, tell us that we just can’t withstand another rejection, thank you very much. Loneliness is a self-protective mechanism gone wrong, and it’s maladaptive.
It is, in fact, self-abandonment. Because we have allowed our own value to be determined by others, others who, for whatever reasons they themselves carry, are simply not able to love responsibly. It isn’t our fault, but we have already been convinced that their treatment of us is who we are.
But the fun doesn’t stop here. From this point on we may spend so much time trying to keep people liking us, to avoid that hurt again, that we will forget to notice how we ourselves are feeling. This can lead to more dysfunctional relationships that we’ll try to “fix”, or into the lives of people we will try to keep happy and loving us, so as to not have to relive those original hurts. Therefore, might not even notice if these people are, for example, taking our money, or taking credit for our ideas and our work, hitching a ride on our creativity, or taking just about whatever they can get. And why shouldn’t they? We’ve offered just about everything already. We had already abandoned ourselves, so why should we not expect others to abandon us also?
We may feel so ashamed about these experiences, that we don’t react with a healthy anger, sadness, or even disappointment, but rather with fear and shame. And seriously people, that just doesn’t help us!
David Richo says: “Often the feeling of loneliness results not from a lack of people to entertain us but from the absence of an adult self to nurture our inner self who feels abandoned in some way. (loneliness is also an appropriate way to feel as we make transitions, take a stand, become more spiritually awake or find ourselves.) We may take our loneliness literally and look for company in all the wrong places. When the child within cannot depend on our inner parent, she attaches to something or someone – anything or anyone – as a surrogate. While not eliminating loneliness, this reduces its wallop. These words of writer and teacher Natalie Goldberg are helpful: ‘Use loneliness. Its ache creates urgency to reconnect with the world. Take that aching and use it to propel you deeper into your need for expression – to speak, to say who you are.'”
Loneliness makes us believe that the world is finite, and that abundance is not our birthright, or that we are somehow exceptionally apart from everything and everyone. In fact, everything, at every moment, is reaching out, imploring us to join them, if only we could answer their call.