I finally admitted this in a quiet whisper to myself as I sat on my deck. I am so lonely. I have hardly any active friendships. Beyond one couple, if you told me to call a friend, I don’t know who I would call.
This is self-imposed, by the way.
After my first marriage ended, it was just Summer and I for about four years and she was a baby. The two of us did life together. Family and friends stood up to help take care of my Summer while I worked. This gave the illusion of still having friends because I still saw them. But perhaps as I look back, I was subconsciously keeping them at arms distance already.
I met Ted, my winner-of-a-husband now, when Summer was 5 and 2016 ended up being a whirlwind of meeting, getting engaged, moving twice and getting married, all before November had wrapped up that year. There wasn’t much time to feel anything then. No time to feel lonely.
In the year of 2017 we were building a house, from March until August and so that year my mind and heart were too occupied to look around me and see there was a distance growing.
For the years 2018 and 2019, I threw myself into marathon training. It was number one. It gave me a goal. It gave me time consuming tasks. It gave me distraction and excuses. That should have told me something since running is always referred to as a lonely sport.
In those two years, I started to crumble a bit. I knew I was hurting and depression was hammering away at my closed heart. I tried to deal with it with medication, more running and who knows what else.
Then 2020. The pandemic. This felt like a gift tied up with a bow. Now I was told I couldn’t see people – the government didn’t allow it!!!! The guilt and shame was removed when I would spend my Friday and Saturday nights at home because the option to engage with people had been removed.
2022 and the world is opening up again…returning to a normal state. Fridays and Saturdays could be occupied if I wanted them to be. But I have stayed home. I have stayed lonely. And I’ve learned I’m not the only one.
About a year after my first marriage ended, I remember a friend telling me she was having a hard time being a friend with me because I wasn’t being a friend back. This nearly killed me and I have lost that friendship to this day.
I had two girlfriends that were my ride-or-die when it was just Summer and I. When I married Ted, I assumed that I lost contact because now I had four kids and they had none so it is a natural splitting of ways.
I tried online dating but eventually, when the time came to meet in person, suddenly I couldn’t do it anymore. I started cancelling every single time. I still didn’t see a problem.
Even my one dear friend prefers phone calls to texts…I can’t take it. I avoid the call. I insist on texting. Having a simple conversation is scary to me now. I can talk to my clients non stop for the duration of their massage but as soon as they are off the table and we are looking at each other? I’m panicking inside, aching for it to end as quickly as possible.
So 2022 is here and phone lines are open, restaurants and events are back up and running, BBQs are happening…and I’m sitting at home…lonely. And to honestly finish that sentence? Hurting like crazy.
So let me say it again. I am so lonely. As someone who always wore their heart on their sleeve and trusted anyone with anything, I’m now terrified of just a simple how-ya-doing phone call. I don’t want people close. And if it starts to happen? The development of a friendship? I will push them away before they get the chance to push me away first.
In January, more out of obligation and with gritted teeth, Ted and I joined a Life Group at church. I haven’t done anything like that since my first marriage. Consistently, every Monday, the day we were to meet, I’d spend the day concocting a reason why I couldn’t make it even though I’m the leader…that’s right. THE LEADER. But all but one of those times, I forced myself to go even if my eyes are puffy and my tears aren’t dry yet. We are not the best of friends (yet?) but it has been a good thing and there is potential and I actually have fun when I go. Don’t want the night to end.
But when I leave, fear quickly jumps back into picture, holding me back. To be lonely is less painful than to be with people, or so I think. You know how Jesus said that it is better to give than to receive? (Acts 20:35) I think that is true in relationships.
When we just take things, when we only make others listen and help us but don’t return the favour, when we receive all the benefits in a relationship and offer none in return, it is empty. Just like there is never enough money to be satisfied, there are never enough me-things to satisfy the craving of more me. (A good article to read more on this… https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-do-i-need-other-people-if-i-already-have-jesus)
I can’t get enough sleep even if I have all the time in the world. No matter how long the kids or Ted are gone, it’s never enough to have me feeling rejuvenated. It’s over too soon. When I bake dozens and dozens of cookies with the intention to gift them, suddenly there is barely enough for my household…forget about giving them away.
ME is a bottomless pit…a lonely, bottomless pit.
No currency can fill it. Except God’s. His currency only fills you up the more you give yourself out to the world. His currency shrinks if you fill yourself up but only grows as you give yourself away. So long as my eyes are on me, my pain, my truth, my best life…I will never get there.
It’s better to give. Jesus knew what good came with giving. The joy of helping someone, the surprise of finding a friend when you allowed an unwanted conversation, the “full” feeling when you force yourself to call someone, maybe even meet with them, and it actually felt like the good and right thing to do. You feel happier after…loneliness takes a nap.
I’ve been reading the gospels for a couple of years now…boy did Jesus give. His time, his patience, his answers, his heart to his best friends who were his disciples. He didn’t keep anything to himself and he didn’t do his mission all alone. Never. So why should I insist on doing it differently?
In my impulsive nature, I texted the women in my life group last night and told them I was lonely and needed friendships. Regretted it immediately. But have received a loving response from each one. I’m going to dread it when they ask me to go for a walk or something…but I’ll go. I will give Jesus’ strategy a try.
To read some other thoughts I’ve had on loneliness, go to https://myunphotoshoppedlife.com/is-it-good-to-be-alone/