Photo Courtesy of: Jamie Kathleen Haughaboo
I find it interesting the amount of effort that I have put into escaping negative emotions.
When sadness, loneliness, anger, envy or any other emotion that I equate to being on the negative end of the spectrum arises, I try to quickly find a remedy.
But I have come to find that instead of trying to convince myself that those emotions don’t deserve a place in my life that perhaps I should allow myself to sit with them and explore what they are showing me about myself.
A few years ago I experienced a high volume of loneliness. I decided to embrace it and simply sit there alone, just me, God and no one else and I came out okay.
No, I take that back I came out better than okay. I came out with a new since of understanding of who I am.
But fast forward from a few years ago to a few weeks ago in January and for some reason when loneliness came knocking I wasn’t quite prepared to exercise the knowledge I had gained from my past.
It was as if I didn’t want to try to get to know me better.
There I was trying a vain attempt to run and hide from my own self.
In that attempt, first I tried to deny the emotion.
– Yeah, well as you can imagine that didn’t work out at all.
Then I thought loneliness had shown itself because I was arriving at the one year anniversary of me not dating, so I thought perhaps I was lonely for a romantic relationship, but I knew deep down that wasn’t it.
After that, I decided it was because I was lonely for platonic companionship but, I knew I was kidding myself with that thought as well.
I have an abundance of healthy relationships.
So despite my initial hesitation I did what I knew worked before, I sat with loneliness on and off whenever she came to visit. I didn’t force the emotion to leave I simply sat with her.
I didn’t act on the feeling, I didn’t judge it as right or wrong, I just sat with it.
And while the emotion of loneliness did come back and forth to me in waves, as time marched on, the emotion left.
But she didn’t leave without showing me why she came.
In the past when I experienced loneliness I would try to find someone to hang out with or I’d phone a friend in an attempt to occupy my time and reduce the feeling of loneliness.
It never really worked all that well but it’s what I did.
I thought loneliness meant that I was lonely for attention from another human being.
I somehow equated loneliness for being alone.
But the truth is I interact with human beings daily.
There isn’t a day that I do not hear from a loved one or that my children don’t request my attention.
I thought perhaps I felt lonely because I felt misunderstood.
Because during that time, when I spoke, I felt as though no one understood me.
Then I thought perhaps it isn’t that others don’t understand me, perhaps the real problem was that I didn’t understand me.
I wasn’t confident and secure in who I was.
I wanted to find “my tribe” who understood me quirks and all.
I didn’t realize that I didn’t need a group of people to come along and totally understood me.
Instead I needed to be the majority in my life and affirm that it was okay to be uniquely me.
The loneliness I was experiencing wasn’t from an external factor at all, the loneliness came from me.
I no longer denied the feeling.
I admitted to my inner circle that I felt lonely.
Sometimes I like to deny my truth as if I think it is going to allow me to escape it, but as Carl Jung said “what we resist, persists”.
So somewhere between denial and acceptance, I called my mother and fighting back tears I explained how I was feeling lonely.
And within my explanation I lost the fight and the tears flowed nonetheless.
Thank goodness the dam broke.
There is something about tears that is healing and soothing, they are a therapeutic flow like no other.
Funny how I know deep down that my tears will eventually dry up, but for some reason I always find a way to convince myself that if I start crying that the tears won’t stop and that tears are a mark of weakness.
Thankfully, my heart knows better.
My heart knows it is far better to go with the flow than to deny it’s ability to move.
So what did loneliness teach me during the past visit?
– I learned that I was lonely for time with myself.
How odd is that?
There I was thinking that I needed to occupy my time with more people when really I was craving my own attention.
Over the past few years I really had been neglecting myself.
There were times when I was working 60 to 80 hours a week.
Sometimes I would work 16 hour days which resulted in me becoming so exhausted that I would have to vomit.
In my mind I was working to provide for my family.
And while trying to provide financially for my family is admirable, I was neglecting both them and myself of me.
I wasn’t getting an adequate amount of sleep.
And the family that I was working to provide for was hardly seeing me.
To make matters worse even when they did see me, I was too tired and/or irritable to be a positive contribution to their lives.
I was out of balance.
I wasn’t eating well because I was struggling to find the time to plan my meals and the notion of a healthy fitness schedule had most certainly fallen by the wayside.
I didn’t want to meditate, and I couldn’t even find the time to do the things I love such as reading, baking and arts and crafts.
But see January didn’t just usher in the feeling of loneliness.
January ushered in a new career opportunity that afforded me the time to do all of the things that I had been neglecting to do.
And yet I was so used to having to work two or three jobs that I was tempted to continue that pattern even though financially I no longer needed to.
I had become so accustomed to struggling that when ease came I didn’t know how to enjoy it.
To be honest, I was quite afraid to.
I had endured so many negative experiences that I was afraid to celebrate the fact that I wasn’t having to struggle any more.
The fear that something bad was going to happen was robbing me from enjoying my present sanctuary.
There I was, so afraid to be happy that I was sitting there paralyzed with fear that surely something negative was lurking around the corner waiting to weigh me down.
But while I sat there alone just me and my emotions I decided it didn’t matter if a valley low experience was lurking around the corner.
Because in the present time I was okay.
Why live in fear that I might have to struggle again when I currently wasn’t?
I was allowing myself to be a prisoner of the pain from my past.
I was so used to pain that when the pain stopped I still thought I was experiencing it.
By allowing myself to experience loneliness I realized that I wasn’t alone for human companionship, I was seeking time with myself and the ability to enjoy my life. I had been neglecting myself and the things that matter most to me and they were hungry for me.
With that said, I don’t feel lonely any more.
Because I started back investing in me.
I started eating a healthy breakfast and brought meditation back into my mix.
I found the time to read again (something I thoroughly enjoy).
I listened to and enjoyed music that soothed my soul.
I took a walk for the sake of leisure and explored nature’s beauty which filled my day.
I sunbathed with my oldest daughter and talked about things that concerned her.
I was catching up with my son who is away at college and enjoying his laugh.
I spent time with my youngest daughter tickling the bottoms of her feet and finding out about her school day.
I called my grandmother who is not in the best of health.
I started having deeper conversations with my mother.
I did things that seem simple, but that working nonstop had made much harder to accomplish.
From bath time with essential oils, to baking my favorite dish – I did it.
I experienced life.
But I also spent time alone just me and the Divine and relished in it.
I realized that feeling loneliness isn’t really as negative as I had allowed myself to believe.
I know because I allowed myself to literally be alone, just sitting there staring into space thinking of nothing and everything all at once, and I realized I was okay.
So I have decided that from here on out whenever loneliness comes to me that I don’t need to deny it. For in my life it is an alert signal that I need to make sure that I am making me a priority in my life.
A few weeks ago, I sat with loneliness and I stood up whole.
© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.