There has been quite a few people who have spoken to me that suffering has no meaning to them and that while they are glad that I have found meaning in it, that it is something that is not to be desired, admired, or something that has any value at all, let alone a purpose. And I can truly understand such sentiments because suffering in any form is neither pleasant nor inspirational at the time that one is suffering. And suffering comprises many things. I don’t simply speak of great loss or pain. The definition of suffering is to be subjected to anything bad or unpleasant. We all suffer with and from many things throughout our lifetimes. It is how we react to those things and the actions that we take that determine what suffering teaches us.
One thing that I am presently experiencing at this time in my life is loneliness. While I have an excellent relationship with my sister who is my best friend, I have been quite lonely for a long time, ever since my husband (who I was married to for thirteen years) disappeared from my life for almost three years now and I have no idea whether he is alive or dead. This is a particular difficult time of year for me because we used to drive around looking at the lights, going out to our favorite restaurant, and just being together. I miss that and I miss him.
But it is not simply the loss of my husband that I am feeling. It is the state of being alone, period. It is amazing to me that one can be in a crowd of people and yet feel a pervasive sense of aloneness. As if one is the only person alive on the planet and the people on it are in some kind of a parallel universe that one can neither enter nor touch.
The thing that loneliness has taught me the most, I think, is not to fear it. The feeling of loneliness, that is. I believe that it is an indication that something is going on inside me that requires my attention. Perhaps, in the busyness of life, I had been neglecting my feelings. Thus, loneliness cranked up its noise so that I could detach myself from people, activity, and things and begin listening to myself again.
As I listened to what my loneliness was telling me, I realized that certain pictures of my past had been playing in my sleep and in my thoughts and I had been attempting to silence those thoughts by filling my time and thoughts with things that were more pleasant. But the loneliness only became louder…until I was finally ready to confront those painful feelings and realize that they were just that…only feelings now…and they no longer had the power to hurt me. Once I acknowledged those feelings, the voice of loneliness grew quieter and I felt at peace with myself again.
I began to do things that nurture my spirit. I visited places online that made me happy. I put on some uplifting music and began nourishing the lonely parts of me. For, I still have feelings of loneliness because I am still, in essence, alone. But I am never alone. I have someone who will never leave me. Someone who will always be here for me. Who will always listen to me. And that is me. And I found myself enjoying me, though I long for a pair of strong arms to hold me. Until that time, I can and do hold me and I am having a blast with my own company.
In this season of loneliness for some, I encourage you to not run from your feelings of loneliness. For they are only pointing the way back to you. Nurture yourself. Do good things for yourself. Reach out to others, for I have found that one of the greatest cures for pain of any kind is to reach out and do good for others. Not simply because of the Christmas season, but every day. Do something every day for someone and you will be surprised at the great benefits that you will begin to enjoy.
If you are feeling lonely right now, I want you to know that you are not alone. There is one here (me) who is thinking of you, praying for you, and wishing that you will receive the deepest desires of your heart. Not just in this season, but in every season of your life.
Loneliness is nothing to fear. You are only missing YOU.