She doesn’t burst in, nor does she prance in… she slips in unaware,… unannounced. It is not that she is a stranger. She has made her presence known before. And no matter how often she visits, and no matter how long she stays, her presence casts a dark shadow across the soul that dampens even the most crowded room.
I am surprised when some say they have never met her. Yet you know they are telling the truth, when they finally describe their first encounter with her.
Others have known her since childhood, usually meeting her through a detached or chaotic family. She can interrupt the most interactive of conversations or the most toxic of conflict. It is here that she seeps under the slammed door to introduce herself in an intimate way.
Her presence is painful! Her silence is deafening. She can suck one’s breath right out from your chest.
She is as cold as a hollow echo that returns from the call of a lost soul crying for help. The only reverberation that is heard is the echo that reflects off the surface of the lonely heart.
Loneliness is her name! Disconnection is her game!
She is found in countless marriages, within large families, within grueling work environment, in emotionally stagnant relationships and within congregations and synagogues alike. She visits the widow the orphan the wealthy and the famous.
She usually stands in the distant shadows and refuses to make direct eye contact. But you know she is there.
Her very presence at times mocks you with taunting whispers, “no one cares about you, and no one knows that you hurt”, or “they only say they care, because that is their job, or what they are hired to do”.
Loneliness is a frequent flyer. She visits your life and she visits mine. For many the challenge is not just loneliness but feeling ashamed for feeling lonely. Expressing loneliness exposes the vacuum in one’s life. Since none are perfect we all have some empty spaces.
It is sad, but we commonly confuse loneliness with a defected heart or a defected person. To feel lonely can wrongly suggests that something is wrong with you. To be lonely says you have nothing to offer, you need a life. It might suggests you are selfish, or uncaring, uninteresting or have nothing to offer others.
Why do few ever admit they are lonely? Some people drug themselves in order not to feel this callous lady. They would rather work twelve-hour days in order not to encounter her coming and goings. They distract themselves with food, television; computers just so they will not have to eye ball her icy stare.
Are you lonely? Have you ever felt loneliness? Do you ever feel ashamed of admitting it? Do you think you are unique? Shame always hides! Are you hiding? Do you have the courage to admit it without shame?
Loneliness is a state characterized by a depressing feeling of being alone. Thomas Wolfe in his The Anatomy of Loneliness, that appeared in the Oct 1941 issue of American Mercury wrote, “The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness far from being a rare and curious phenomenon peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.”
Knowing that loneliness is so universal is a rather minor consolation during periods of loneliness. Often the feelings of loneliness become so powerful that nothing else matters over your day and your feelings.