This evening I’m feeling lonely. Can I be friends with that feeling?
I have been delving into the depths of my loneliness this summer, feeling the intense pain it brings. The reactions in my psyke and my body have been quite awe-inspiring, but in a very unpleasant kind of way.
Two years ago I dared to separate from my partner of 11 years to be single for the first time in my adult life. I knew it was time to do some healing and developing on my own in order to be able to become the adult I wanted to be. After my partner moved out I became addicted to dating sites, I was a frenzy of conversations and dates from these sites. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t put my telephone down; why I broke my ‘home’ button because I was clicking it so much; why I couldn’t survive the evening without some interaction from someone from a dating site. ‘Breaking up’ after only a few dates sent me into a deep depression and general feeling of awfulness, but I couldn’t really figure out why.
I slowly came to the realisation that I was behaving like an addict. I had developed an addiction to dating sites. This felt ridiculous and I was ashamed to admit it and provided myself and others with plausible explanations for my behaviour. After a lot of inner work it slowly became clear that my dating site addiction was just a symptom covering what I learned was a deeper issue of codependency. (I dislike labels but they are pretty convenient to quickly communicate a symptom pattern.)
Codependency has many definitions and descriptions, often it is described by a list of behaviours and symptoms, but heres my quick description. Being so caught up in an others life and feelings that you neglect your own even don’t realise you have your own, some call it ‘relationship addiction’. Without an ‘other’ to define me I really was at a loss as to know what to do with this ‘me’ that I was now living alone with. It has taken much time, introspection and help from a therapist to come to this understanding.
So this evening, taking my baby steps into a healthy relationship with myself I recognise a feeling of loneliness. I realise that bawling my eyes out and wishing (or screaming) that it would go away isn’t going to solve anything (and at the age of 30+ is not really a viable option). I could call a friend, have a glass of wine, start swiping on tinder …… but wait …. those numbing strategies I’ve relied on so long don’t heal, they numb, they only put it off until the next time….
So time for a new strategy:
- recognise the feeling of loneliness
- feel how this feeling feels physically in my body
- accept the feeling is present and stay with it, don’t try to force it to go away
- remind myself that it is not dangerous, it is even natural and important
- go on with my small plans for the evening welcoming this part of me
- LET GO of the feeling of loneliness when it is ready to leave
This last one is really important. It is so easy to get attached to the negative feelings and let them define you. I’ve noticed after welcoming the loneliness I get somehow ‘stuck’ in it, this is attachment. This is when loneliness goes from being a feeling I have to being a feeling I am.
Every new moment is a new beginning, a new opportunity, a new sensation and a new feeling. Get curios. In the next moment the loneliness might have morphed to give a new perspective or might have completely been replaced by something else. Do not assume the loneliness will be there just because it was in the previous moment.
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