Many people know all about feeling lonely, at least at some point in their lives. The lucky ones learn to convert loneliness into aloneness. The extremely lucky ones have no idea what I am talking about and have never known a moment’s loneliness.
Then there are those who would give anything to just have a little alone time away from everyone and everything, only to find that when they get it, they suddenly realize why one should be careful what one wishes for.
One of the hardest burdens to carry is the burden of loneliness. Being in a relationship, getting married, having children, or joining a support group most certainly does not miraculously make loneliness go away. Some find that they are lonelier in a crowd or in a relationship or a marriage than anywhere else in their lives. Sometimes we are just fine with our own company, until we encounter a person who teaches us the meaning of the word loneliness by shattering our confidence to such an extent that being alone somehow no longer seems wise and starts to feel very much like being lonely.
When we feel lonely, we feel that we are, on some level, not good enough. This feeling can be, and indeed is, covered up by many as a matter of course. But is it wise to put on a brave face and pretend it is all okay? Is loneliness not perhaps a sign for us to look deeper within and beyond what we believe are the reasons for our loneliness? One way of dealing with loneliness, though probably one of the more difficult ways of doing so, is to stare it in the face. Why should we allow loneliness to terrify us so much that we would do almost anything to hide from it or avoid it, like staying in a miserable relationship or tolerating the cruel words of a false friend? Of course we should not allow this, but overcoming loneliness is really much easier said than done and so sometimes we make ourselves believe that it is easier to stay and face the pain we are familiar with, than to move away from it and in the process perhaps encounter a different kind of pain that we might not know.
If we turn and face this thing so many of us fear more than almost anything, we may find that loneliness is just a mirror, reflecting back to us the reality that we do not like our own company. Perhaps it is but a helpful message, not something to fear. Loneliness and aloneness are two opposite aspects of the space we are born into; both are subject to our personal power and both must follow the natural order of things. If we find a way to be comfortable with ourselves, loneliness has no option but to fade from our reality. Being alone can be experienced as a welcome respite from the world’s madness, or it can feel like hell; a very empty one at that. Learning to like who we are can be tough for some, but ultimately, it starts with respecting ourselves, understanding ourselves and being honest with ourselves. We owe it to ourselves to find out who we are and what about ourselves we would need to either change, or accept, in order to start liking our own company.
Facing loneliness is no different from merely observing aloneness. Once we stop running from loneliness long enough to just watch what is happening, we become aware that we feel lonely because the space we are in does not have anyone else in it. This happens if we merely occupy the space we are in, leaving us with a sense of lack which we try to fill up with things and people that make no difference to the deep and terrible sense of emptiness that loneliness brings. They cannot fill the space that creates our loneliness, because they were never meant to do so. If we do more than just occupy our space, and become present in it, we fill the space we occupy with our presence. Then we discover that being present in our own space, leaves no room for anyone or anything else and there is no longer a need, a longing, or any sense of lack. Our own presence in our space becomes enough and we discover that it connects us to all life. We no longer long to be somewhere else, we no longer need anyone or anything to help us fill our space. Our presence in our space allows the natural state of aloneness to reflect in our lives, presenting no form of lack and allowing us to welcome all that life has to offer into our lives. We become able to peacefully observe the space we are present in, and breathe into it … fully alive.