Perhaps the deepest loneliness is the wrong relationship.
On the journey to get to know Self, I have experienced the dark night of the soul where I was alone and lonely at the same time. I have had long drawn out moments, turned into days, turned into weeks of feeling like I’m swimming in a dark hole. Groundless. Without a sentient being in sight. To me that groundless, connectionless state is loneliness.
Lonely is a hollow feeling. It’s an I’m my own planet kind of vibe. It’s a hungry ghost that can’t seem to find the company it needs — within or without — to offer it a sense of peace, connection, and relief.
When we feel heard and seen — by ourselves and by life itself, our loneliness fades into the background.
I recently went out for a drink with a married male friend. Our kids bonded at the playground a few years back and we started chatting and realized we had some common interests — and our kids were having a blast together. I gave him my yoga card and we’ve stayed in contact on and off ever since.
During our conversation, he mentioned I might like where he and his wife are living — because, “There are lots of independent single moms who just don’t give a sh*t.” While my friend gave a detailed description of the reasons Kingston, Jamaica was such a great place for a single mom to live, my mind continued to swirl that sentence around as I swirled the ice around in my drink.
Didn’t give a shi*t? Part of me said, Hell yeah, that’s right. And another part of me said, Why would you think that I don’t care what others think because I don’t have a man? His statement peeled away a mask I’d been wearing. That I’ve got this, I’m strong, I don’t need a partner — I’m all good mask. Maybe I wasn’t all good?
I suddenly felt raw. Naked. I looked down at my body and noticed my clothing. Why didn’t it feel like it was on me?
My mind spun back to 6 years ago. From coupled to alone in a heartbeat.
Yes, I was ostracized by married friends (they said it wasn’t intentional, but it was awkward for them because they didn’t know who to invite to dinners — me or my ex) when I went through a legal separation. Yes, I have intentionally made single parent friends to be around my own tribe — because it’s more comfortable and accepting. And who doesn’t want to be loved and accepted for who they are?
I love it when casual conversations swirling in all sorts of directions reveal a thought that penetrates deep.
You see, my friend had it all wrong. I actually give quite a lot of sh*t about my life and partnership.
I put conscious intention into all aspects of it. I recently left a job that paid the bills and then some because it was sucking the lifeforce energy out of me and leaving me very little energy at the end of the day to devote to my passions — and more importantly, my family. I did it for my daughter as much as I did it for myself. Her young years are going by too fast. I don’t want to waste them away with stressed nights of rushed dinners and baths and quick play times just to do it all over again the next day because I have to work a job I hate and rush her off to school where her teachers get to spend more time with her during the week than I do.
I quit my job so I could create space to date because a healthy partnership is something I believe in. And over time, my naive mind that thought the perfect lover would float down from the heavens and onto my doorstep has left me for a grounded and mindful woman who knows she has to make changes to change old patterns. I chose jobs that sucked me dry maybe because I unconsciously wanted to sabotage any chance at a good relationship.
Because I give quite a lot of sh*ts about my relationships, I want to choose connection over loneliness.
I’ve been lonely one too many times with the wrong man in the wrong relationship. I’ve been partially seen (he saw the parts that he wanted to see and ignored or criticized the rest). I’ve been treated as an afterthought (he didn’t prioritize our time together based past wounds that he openly shared — and somehow I allowed this to be okay). I’ve been objectified, often (we had good sex, but sometimes it felt like that was all he wanted me for — choosing to see his friends on nights we both had free instead of scheduling a date with me or not scheduling dates at all — just in home hangouts that ended up in sex and more sex).
I’ve been the victim of the avoidant man who shut down when I started to share my feelings (or quickly changed the subject). I’ve been there when he was with me physically but so far away emotionally (that emotional distance was there in conversations, in quiet moments cooking dinner, and even during sex. Whenever I tried to bring it up to discuss, he became even more distant).
I’ve experienced what I don’t want — on repeat. I’ve been lonely one too many times, which is why I give a whole lot of sh*ts about choosing something different.
All the men I’ve been in relationships with presented themselves as “open” and “spiritual” and started out as eager, clear, direct communicators. Slowly (and sometimes quickly) they began to drop the facade. During the facade dropping phase, I’d already grown attached to who I thought they were. It was easy for my mind to tell me what I wanted to hear and make me see what I wanted to see. I began to lie to myself and the loneliness started to creep in.
The longer I ‘ve stayed with him (the wrong guy, that is), the more lonely and forgotten I’ve felt. Over time, that hollowness turned into an inner banshee that forced me to screech my way out of the relationship. My voice was once again heard, but not in the way I had hoped.
So, my dear married friend, I do give a few thousand sh*ts, which is why I’m still single. I know myself. I continue to get to know her, and the more I know her, the more I appreciate her — and fall in love with her. And that self-love has inspired me to realize that alone is so much better than lonely.
I wonder now what would have happened if I walked away the moment the wrong men’s masks were revealed?
I no longer fear walking away. Nor do I fear walking toward. It takes time to get to know someone. We, humans, are complex. We have many layers — some of them masks.
Not all masks are worth walking away from. But I know the minute that lonely feeling settles in — I’m going to address it. And if he is not able to go into the hollow with me to process it through, then that’s my sign.
Alone I will walk — but not at all lonely.