Loneliness is OK; you can stop running!

New River Gorge 2007 — credit Drew Highley

Many people run from being alone like it’s a disease (I’ve done plenty of running myself). But who can blame us?— it’s what we have been taught. Movies, music, books, friends and family have all taught us the way to cope with it is through ice-cream, alcohol, cigarettes, impulsive decisions, drugs and sex. All ways to numb, ignore and run. No one tells us it is ok.

This time of stillness can be turned into purposeful intention, reflection and rebuilding that can enrich life if it is engaged the right way.

“Loneliness is a disease
That grows slowly and
Undetected. Its symptoms 
Are terrifying.
Loneliness is a dark,
Unseeing veil that covers
You with sadness, and a 
Desperate race to conquer the 
Complete spiritual and 
Emotional emptiness…
In an unmerciful world…”
-Elaine (Rebuilding: When the Relationship Ends)

Whether you are entering loneliness for the first time, reentering or permanently attached, we all know these familiar pains too well. So what distinguishes those of us completely covered by the veil from those who can see clearly when alone?

…They know loneliness for what it truly is — a liar.

This big monster that pushes you into the couch and suffocates you is a fake. The voice that tells you you are nothing and no one loves you is taunting you. The pit in your stomach that follows you all day doesn’t have to be there. You have the power to cut it loose.

So how do you scare off this big, taunting, fake monster? Just like you would in the wild, show it how much bigger you are.

First, you must internalize, contrary to popular belief, time by yourself will not kill you.

Second, you must acknowledge that this can and will be a time of introspection, growth, strength and personal development.

With these things, you can approach being alone with a leveled mind and playing field.

One small thing that has helped me greatly is to simply identify loneliness when it hits and then listen. When I feel that pit in my stomach, when the veil starts to descend, I stop what I’m doing immediately. I put down my book, I stop typing, I stop doing laundry, whatever it is, and I sit. I close my eyes and I sit with the feeling. I become aware of how much it is engulfing me. I give it time there… I say to myself, “Hello friend, I recognize you as loneliness. Why are you here? What is your true motivator right now?”

I let it run its course for a length of time depending on the importance of the current task at hand, and then I say, “That’s enough. I’m not scared of you.” and I continue with my task. Depending on how intense it is or if I could distinguish the motivation, just this pause can be enough to help lighten my heart. Other times, I have to repeat this practice and possibly at longer lengths.

Eventually, I can discern what is truly causing my body to hurt. A few examples might be I’m not spending enough time around positive people, I need fresh air or nature, I may need exercise to get out frustration, I might be needing an intention or purpose... or sometimes I’m just craving sugar! Whatever it is, once I find this truth, I take action and heal myself in healthy ways. It’s amazing how much we are taught to rely on others for happiness when it all lies within.

Loneliness does not have to be a debilitating scary monster! It can be a guide to the places of your life, heart and soul that need feeding. Start listening to your body when it is trying to speak to you and figure out what you need. You have the ability to nurture yourself, so do it! Your body will thank you!