L is for LONELY

When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience.

― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love


Hi, my name is Krista

I have roughly 700 Facebook friends, and I currently reside in arguably the coolest city in the country- quite possibly even the world!  I see celebrities like the average human being sees minivans (or so it would seem), and have a husband who spoils me beyond what I could possibly deserve. I have a blog, and nearly every shade of the falls trendiest nail polishes….

And yet, the last couple weeks I have been terribly LONELY.

If you have ever used the L-word to describe yourself, then you know that it feels almost shameful. And to admit it on a public platform such as this, is somewhere between the level of humiliation in admitting you’ve killed a mouse with a meat cleaver, and admitting you puked in a mixing bowl! Good times…

Admitting you are lonely is the emotional equivalent of holding an L up to your forehead for the world to see!

It brings back memories of the kid shuffling awkwardly down the bustling halls of high school, the one you try with all your might not to make eye contact with as he spills his books across the floor! This comes to mind because so often we associate being lonely, with the other L-words…

Like being a LONER…

And even more, BEING A LOSER!

I have wrestled with this all week.

And I kid you not, that while talking with my husband one night, and feeling overwhelmingly lonely, this. exact. sentence in all of its ridiculousness – came sputtering out of my mouth…

“I feel like a princess locked up in a tower, desperately awaiting my prince to come release me!!! But he’s too busy jet setting around Manhattan; living his dream, attending important meetings, going to trendy restaurants ….and wearing red pants!”

I said this eyeing him, and the trace of barbecue sauce that my daughter so graciously smeared on my shirt, knowing full well the only things I did worthy of noting this last week, was conduct a manhunt for our daughter’s missing toothbrush, less than successfully put on fake tanning lotion, and search every store in an attempt to find mayonnaise for less than $7.00!

My husband’s response was sweet, in spite of my mellow dramatic princess analogy – and deep-rooted jealousy in his ability to wear red pants – and offered to take me out for some fro-yo.

But the next day the unsettling feeling of loneliness began stirring again. Why? I couldn’t put my finger on it. I wouldn’t say I was homesick… I love my new life! And it’s not that I don’t have friends… strangely enough I turned down multiple invitations from my friends to get together! Even more strange though, because I stood them up so I could stay home to sulk, and be lonely! Yeah, don’t be like me…

It’s interesting though, because according to a study done by the University of Chicago, I am not the only one with this dysfunctional mindset! In the study it was found that when we are most lonely, we engage in what scientists call ‘social evasion’ which is acting upon the belief that isolating ourselves from others is key to our survival- when really it could be said that the exact opposite is true!

When we are lonely, we become less concerned with interactions and more concerned with self preservation. And yet we don’t realize that while trying to protect ourselves from harm, we are actually causing more harm by refusing to connect with others!

So there I was, ‘locked away in a tower’ – or so I pathetically put it – not even realizing that I was the one who held the key! (and unfortunately for me, not even my uber-cool, red pants wearing, Manhattanite of a husband had a spare!) I was the only person capable of getting me out of this funk. with exception of course, to Justin Timberlake… or so I’d like to think! 

In the book ‘Feelings; Converting Negatives To Positives’, Dr. Gloria Willcox describes how to change the most negative feelings into positive ones.

In the case with loneliness, she outlines how in order to move from feeling lonely we have to become more sensuous.

imageShe goes on to say that “Our emotions are directly tied to that which pleases our senses, and so it is with loneliness. A lack of pleasing stimulation of the senses – sight (the beauty of a smile), hearing (the sound of a greeting), smell (a gift of flowers), taste (a shared meal), and touch (a warm hug) – can leave us feeling empty and emotionally distressed.”

Now if you are anything like me, and have trouble describing the way in which your senses were pleased as being little more than hearing Matt Lauer’s voice on the TODAY show, the taste of Kraft macaroni and cheese, and the smell of a dirty diaper – than not only could I put money down on the fact that you are a stay at home mom – but its also very likely that you are secretly yearning for more! Quite possibly even, locked away in loneliness.

The truth is, no matter how successful a person is, or how ideal their life may look on Facebook, not one of us is exempt from feeling lonely! And that loneliness is a desperate cry from senses that are longing to be ignited!

No matter what has led you to the place of loneliness that you may currently find yourself in – a heartbreak or tragedy, a big move or a new job – I would encourage you this week to step back and seek God. Inquire whether withdrawing from those around you is indeed helping you, or hindering you.

Just like me, you may find that your choice in treatment, might also be the same poison making you more sick.

imageAnd so this last weekend, I searched for avenues in which I could better activate my senses, and lull my loneliness.

I chose phone calls over texting, and took my head phones out on the bus to make small talk with a 75 year old woman that was (no joke) dressed waaaay better than me! We rolled around in the leaves and got splinters in Central Park, and instead of braving the masses of tourists and hipsters at the restaurant down the street, we opted for a much quieter Friday night, eating gyros on a park bench taking in the warmth of the air and the reflection of the sun setting over the water.

And although, I have in no way completely slain the raging beast of loneliness in my life, I did find that each time I courageously stepped out, that I did feel more fulfilled. And with each new ounce of fulfillment, there was that much less room for loneliness to reside.

… And above all else, I realized that L isn’t for Loser, its for Lonely!

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Psalm 34:8

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