I struggle a great deal with loneliness. There are some people in my life who know this, but it’s not common knowledge. I started struggling with this on a very deep level in high school. It has caused me so much pain throughout the years. There have been many sleepless nights/mornings like this one that I could not stop thinking… that I could not shake the loneliness and feelings of not belonging or being loved.
Loneliness makes us feel alone and abandoned in our endeavors and leaves us in a spiral of consuming thoughts. Loneliness tells us that we’re worth only so much — that even those that love us can only possibly love a certain amount. Loneliness can feel infinite, it can feel impossibly overwhelming, and in moments of desolation, it can feel like it’ll never leave us. – Andre Bohrer
My birthday was five days ago (please don’t send me messages wishing me happy birthday). I hardly did anything to celebrate it. I didn’t make a big deal about it. I didn’t even respond to the “happy birthday!” posts on my Facebook wall – many of them superficial and random. I cringed inside anytime wished me a happy birthday. Why? It’s complicated to explain, but I will try.
I used to really enjoy celebrating my birthday. I used to enjoy people taking the time to plan some kind of event, receiving meaningful gifts, having a good time, and knowing (and feeling) that these people were celebrating my life because they loved me.
That changed at some point through the years.
I dread my birthday now. I can’t stand the superficial birthday wishes from people who could care less about what’s going on in my life and how I’m truly feeling. I don’t like the idea of having a whole day to celebrate my life. What is there to celebrate anyways?
This is where it gets even more personal. I read that post by Andre a long time ago where he was answering someone’s question about this same thing. I resonated so much with what he was feeling that I sent him a long message. He wrote something that day that helped me pinpoint one major reason why I don’t like celebrating my birthday.
I don’t show myself enough love, (which translates into), I don’t think I’m worth the love.
This one sentence wrecked me. The reality of this statement brought me to tears and self-reflection. Allow me to quickly expound on this. I enjoy celebrating my friends’ birthdays. I enjoy planning events for them, getting them gifts, and having a good time with them. I will go out of my way to make sure someone else knows they are loved and appreciated most of the time. I tell my close friends (probably too much) how much I truly appreciate them. I want people to know how amazing they are and that their life is truly worth celebrating!
But not mine. I don’t think people should waste their time and efforts into celebrating my life, because I don’t believe I’m worth celebrating. It’s extremely hard for me to love myself much of the time, so it is hard for me to accept other people’s love. And, most of the time, even when I do accept someone else’s love, it’s hard for me to believe it’s genuine (I’ll write on that soon enough) because of past experiences.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.” – Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
This is something that is a continual work in progress. Each year it seems to be harder, but each year I learn more about myself. It’s hard to admit these things, but I can’t truly deal with them without getting it out in the open. This is the real me.
Lord, it has been an alarming discovery. I can feel lonely in a crowd…when I have lots of friends and when I’m involved in a busy, seemingly productive life. You’ve helped me discover that loneliness is not the absence of people, but the absence of truly profound relationships in which I can talk out how I’m feeling, share my secrets, and be open about my hopes and dreams. It’s also lonely when I don’t share with vulnerability my big failures or little goofs.
At the same time, I feel lonely when there’s no one with whom I can share my vision for the future, wild and impossible though it may seem at times. I guess a true friend is one with whom I can share the pain that makes me sad and the successes that make me glad. Loneliness seems to get worse when there’s not someone who will cry with me and laugh with me, pick me up when life goes “bump,” and bring me back down to reality when my plans soar with self-aggrandizement rather than self-sacrifice. I’m talking about true honesty that doesn’t just condone, but gently confronts.
Now, Lord, here’s the big discovery I’m making: I can’t be to others the friend I need them to be to me until I have a truly satisfying relationship with You. Loneliness is the anxiety of unrelatedness. The first step out of it is to trust You as a close confidant. Then help me find people of Your choice to extend the circle, and I’ll soon be ready to help heal the multitude of lonely people around me. It’s awesome that You want a friend of the likes of me, but You do. You’ve told me that over and over again. Today, I’m going to believe You! Amen.
Loneliness is none other than homesickness for God. Our loneliness is a “homing instinct.” God has placed it within us. And intimate communion is our home. Christ is the way home to the Father.
From Lloyd John Ogilvie’s book, “Praying Through the Tough Times”