Posts Tagged ‘loneliness’

The year was 1995. I was 20 years old and I found myself alone at a friend’s apartment in London. It was a cold winter day and because London was dark by 3pm, I was stuck in the apartment very early in the day. Dinner consisted of a pathetic bowl of ice-cream as I watched a dreadfully boring tv show (on a screen full of static snow) about cheese-making in Britain. This was my first Christmas spent alone. It is a day I will never forget. I had never felt so alone in my life.

The second Christmas I would spend alone was in 2007. I was now 32 years old and living in Los Angeles. I spent the day curled up in an agonizing ball of tears, grieving over the man I loved, who would be spending his first Christmas with the woman who had replaced me. There was no eating on that day. The pain was too great to allow for food. It was too much to even answer the phone. I talked to no friends or family that day. The only place I could bear to be was alone with my grief. That was the low point of my life.

The third Christmas I would spend alone is this one: 2011. I am now 36, almost 37 years old and I am living in San Francisco. It is so fascinating and thought-provoking for me to reflect on all of the Christmases between this one and that first lonely Christmas spent in London. To be honest with you, I don’t even remember where I spent all of the Christmases in between. There may have been other lonely holidays spent alone, but the ones I remember are the ones I’ve mentioned. Those are the ones that stand out as the painful and defining moments in my life.

I ponder the 16 years that have passed since I served myself that Christmas ice-cream “feast,” and it is hard to even fathom the person I was and the person I have become. A lifetime of changes, heartaches, joys, triumphs, laughter, tears and adventures have taken place over those 16 years. From Spain to Boston, to Washington, DC, Los Angeles to San Francisco, I have lived across a span of 6,000 miles. I have gone from being a student living in Spain, to planning international travel, to being a graduate school drop out, to working at the United Nations in Geneva, through my first acquisition as a manager at a start-up, to working at a minimum wage job struggling to pay my rent, back to management in a start-up, to being fired and now to being an inspirational writer. It has been a path I could never have imagined and a level of growth and transformation that is immeasurable by time or space.

As I write this post, it is Christmas Eve and I am curled up in my pajamas with my two kitties, the only two constant companions in my life over the past decade. They are the wall between me and the full grip of loneliness. I will not be with close friends or family this Christmas, not because I don’t have those, but simply because we are all in different places this year and circumstances prevent us from being together. Is it easy to be alone? I would certainly be lying if I said “yes,” but I am here to tell you that there is an indomitable strength and fortitude that has come from having to face the depths of such solitude. Walking through such loneliness over a span of so many years has forced me to walk through the fire and it has allowed me to emerge a Spiritual Warrior. And with that has come the knowledge and the wisdom that I am my own strongest ally, that with my inner strength and fire I can overcome and endure any plight or challenge that comes my way.

I am here today to reach out to all of the other lonely souls out there who feel that they are all alone and who feel that they are the only ones. I am here to tell you that you are not alone. I am here to tell you that you are one of millions, that as I write these words there are countless other people in the exact same situation, wishing that they had loved ones with whom to share the holidays. And I am here to tell you that there is strength in that. You are not alone. None of us are alone. We are all connected by heart and spirit. We are all Spiritual Warriors and if we can tap into that collective energy we can feel the love and brotherhood among us.

I am also here to tell you that there is opportunity in solitude. I could spend Christmas Day alone and depressed about how everyone else I know is with loved ones. It would be far too easy to go to that place. But I refuse to allow myself that poisonous indulgence. Instead I will begin my day with a deep meditation, allowing myself to access that profound well of inner calm and the connection to my higher self and Universal love; that place where peace washes over you. Then I have organized a Christmas dinner, a dinner of complete strangers, an opportunity for other solitary souls to come together to share a dinner in the comfort of community; an opportunity to get to know new people, to share stories, to laugh and to allow ourselves to feel the joy of simple human connection.

If you are alone this Christmas, be comforted in knowing that in fact you are not alone. Reach out and connect with strangers. Go out to the pub and strike up a conversation with your neighbor. Go volunteer at a soup kitchen and connect with others by giving of your heart. Go to a yoga class and flow with a community of like-minded souls. Remember that we are all brothers and sisters on this journey of souls and none of us are ever alone. We are all connected.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, from my heart to yours…..

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Photo by Alejandra Mavroski

What does it truly mean to be alone, and to be happy? How many of us can truly say that we have perfected that art? So many people are constantly looking for fulfillment and happiness through external forces; whether it be trying to complete themselves with a love partner, or trying to validate themselves with a career. But we all know that true happiness comes only from within.

I have witnessed so many people in my life, go from relationship to relationship, always filling the void from the last, with the next, but never taking the time to stop and realize that they themselves are the only one who can truly fill that void; never allowing themselves the freedom and the opportunity to explore what true self-fulfillment and happiness really means. I remember telling this to an ex-boyfriend years ago. It was obvious to me that he was not happy with himself, with what he had accomplished in his own life, and he was instead trying to find that happiness with me. I knew that could never work. And I was right. You cannot depend on another person for your happiness.

I have been single for the larger part of my adult life and I have lived alone for the past 8 years. Although in many moments I have not been happy about this fact (believe me, I’ve been downright bitter at times!), and it was certainly not what I would have chosen for myself, I know that I have been fortunate to have this experience. Being on my own for so long has forced me, even if reluctantly and sometimes kicking and screaming, to learn to be happy with myself. For years I have not had someone to come home to, nobody to whisper sweet nothings to, nobody to have dinner with and tell about my day. I’ve had nobody to take vacations with, nobody to cry to or hold me when I’m sad or to take care of me when I am sick.

And believe me, for a long time this was agonizing and heartbreaking. But the silver lining is that I’ve had to learn to be that support for myself, to be my own best friend, to make myself laugh. And after many tearful, lonely nights I am happy to say that I have come out the other side and I have found happiness within myself. I now have moments where I’m completely alone and laughing out loud, and I have to smile to myself. I am at peace.

So many people are terrified of their own company. The thought of being at home, by themselves, with nobody to talk to, is debilitating for them. So they do everything possible to avoid just that; they create an overactive social life so that they are always with friends, or they become workaholics so they can drown themselves in their jobs, or sadly many even become alcoholics; but all with the same goal: to avoid the pain and darkness that they feel by being alone. Much of this is self-conscious, but sadly it is self-defeating. While one may feel comforted by the presence of other friends around them or sadly by alcohol, they are not dealing with the true loneliness within, and so that comfort will only be fleeting.

So if you find yourself alone and sad about it, it’s ok. Don’t be afraid of it, instead embrace it. Face the darkness that you feel when you are completely alone and be one with it. Walk right into it, fearlessly. For it is by being one with it, that you will eventually conquer it and start to see that you can fill your own heart with light.

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