Recently I was having a discussion with a friend regarding the nature of loneliness and how men and women react differently to it. Universally, most people feel insurmountable, devastating loneliness at some point in their lives. Collectively we feel that no one understands us, or that we are unlovable, or that we are going to die alone and loveless. It hurts, doesn’t it? Sometimes it can feel as though loneliness is sucking the marrow right from our bones, leaving a hollow version of our former buoyant selves.
To placate this pain, we go about chasing one sensation after another. Some viable ways to avoid pain are to use drugs and alcohol, to numb out to TV, to shag a whole lot of different people, or to be extremely busy so there is no time to reflect or feel. Of course that doesn’t work. Loneliness is painful and deeply human. Interestingly, so often in the quest to avoid loneliness we create circumstances with others that only seek to highlight our own pain. At some point, we have to look honestly into our shadows and muck in order to bring out more light. Oh life, you wonderful teacher.
When I was in my relationship with Dr. Douche, my desire to be with him eclipsed all rational or logical understanding. This man was not good to me, he did not cherish me, he did not treat me right. I suffered and endured, hoping and praying that one day things would change. I felt the connection and believed he did too, if he could just get past his emotional unavailability and self-imposed suffering. Initially, all I could do was blame him for the configuration of our relationship. I felt that the blame was somehow getting me somewhere (however not closer to him). It wasn’t until several months later that I was able to see that my loneliness was steering the ship straight into a perfect storm. My aloneness plus his emotional unavailability equalled almost two years of push and pull that nearly killed me but ultimately led to some of my greatest healing and growth.
I got through that experience with the help, guidance and support of some very dear friends and healers. I knew that I needed some extra help or I would have gone off the deep end. Women tend to talk things out, which is a much healthier way to navigate stormy emotional waters. Biologically, women communicate with one another as a way to stay safe. When the men were out hunting, women would talk to make sure everyone was accounted for and there were no tigers looming in the grass, looking for lunch.
Most men have difficulty fully expressing what they feel. Some think that it is unmanly or that they don’t have the language skills, or perhaps they were conditioned to grin and bear it. This communication shut down has some serious ramifications. Statistically, men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. Perhaps if they were more emotionally available and in touch with their feelings, men would be better able to navigate their own emotional waters rather than having to rely on such escape mechanisms to achieve the status quo. It can be scary to look into the abyss, but it is infinitely more painful to avoid it.
Self-love is the antidote to loneliness. Invest in your self-care to love yourself well. Self-love is essential to have any happy, nurturing relationship that you crave. You cannot put your insatiable desires for connection on another (to avoid your loneliness) and expect to have the perfect partner or perfect relationship. It just doesn’t work that way. The truth is that it all comes from within. Self-love comes from being comfortable in the dark void and not having to medicate or stimulate yourself out of it. When we are saturated with universal love, the neediness, clinging and craving for someone else diminishes.
For me, I take time in nature to heal, cook some really healthy homemade food, or perform a sacred ceremony. I have found ways to connect to and feel the universal love that penetrates all living things. It has made my crazy-making mind a bit more relaxed and peaceful. Find something that works for you so you are glistening in a love so deep it is apparent to all who see you, and then I promise, you will not feel so alone.