In my lifetime I have more often felt lonely while in the presence of others, than when alone. Loneliness may have been one of the biggest issues in my second marriage. Why would I want to live with someone if the relationship left me feeling lonely?

I like my own company and I like being alone. I used to think that I love living alone, but discovered I love living alone with a cat…and maybe a dog.

I am an introvert and while I enjoy the company of others, it really is necessary for me to have time alone to recharge my batteries. I’ve moved many times to cities where I knew few to no others. And that was always okay. I eventually made friends so any loneliness I experienced didn’t last long. Usually when I felt lonely I would deny it – not necessarily consciously but now I can look back on those times and see how I felt and how I thought I was feeling.

Some spiritual traditions teach that loneliness only exist in those who are not in tune with God or Spirit and/or those who do not love themselves. I have often thought that something was clearly wrong with me if I experienced loneliness. I didn’t feel that way in a lonely marriage; I’ve only negatively self-judged when on my own…when I should rise above and love myself and be one with God and not need for anything. Yep, I’ve laid some heavy shit on myself!

I’m always surprised when people consider me brave for retiring to a city I’ve never visited. In this day and age, if we don’t like where we live we can pick up and move. We (I am) always in communication with those we love. And really, I’ve moved so many times I can’t remember. Rarely did I know someone – or know someone deeper than a casual working relationship – before I moved to a new city for a new job. And that’s the difference this time…

I’ve always considered myself extremely introverted as I could hardly wait to go home after a long day at work and be alone. When Thursday or Friday came, I would go home at the end of the work week and except to buy groceries, not leave the house until I had to be back in the office on Monday or Tuesday. My home has always been my sanctuary and the more time I could spend at home alone, the happier I was. So it’s been a little bit of a surprise to me to find myself lonely. Yes…I am admitting this…I get lonely.

Not all day. Not every day. Not most days. But on some days I get very lonely and pray for the companionship of those I love. I visualize my home filled with people who love me – whom I love – and to whom I serve. I imagine watching Christmas movies with my sister, giving a sound massage to a client, listening to music while reading with a friend,  or laughing and crying over stories of our lives while having tea with another friend.

Loneliness is a deep longing in my heart and at first I tried to deny it. I analyzed it…why do I feel lonely? I usually long for times like this – time to my Self, to do what I want to do, and to recharge. And then I realized….I don’t go to the office any more. I’m not spending most of my time with people in a big building with fake lighting and images of battlefields. I’m not pouring my energy into maintaining relationships – friendships and professional only. My batteries are adequately charged and I’m ready to give – to serve – to be with others.

It has nothing at all to do with being disconnected from Source or not loving myself. It’s not a fear of being alone and having to face myself. It’s a very human need to be and feel connected to others. It’s a desire for companionship. And it’s okay. Loneliness is O-K.

I’ve envied those of you who have lived in the same town for 20+ years and who have had children and been completely plugged into your community, church, schools. I’ve envied your family gatherings – you always know exactly what your holidays will look like. At least until the children grow up. I don’t regret my life of movement. There’s hardly a city I go to where I don’t know someone or someone who knows someone I know. I’ve had amazing experiences in cultures that are vastly different from one another. And while my 20, 30 or even 50+ year friendships aren’t in close geographical proximity, they are profoundly deep and always there. And I’m grateful.

But now I’m ready to settle down to one place – somewhere I can grow roots. And I believe Asheville is an excellent choice for this new adventure. It’s true I might move again – who knows when it comes to my life, right? But I feel like this is it. And I trust the relationships – friends and family – will form here. Holidays will become traditions and while I might experience an occasional feeling of loneliness, that feeling may feel like a visit from an old friend; a time for me to give special attention to nourishing my body, mind, and Spirit. Once Spa de la Paz is fully operational, my volunteer work is routine, and my new friendships are firmly established, my introverted self will welcome time alone to recharge and recover. I know this to be true so for now, I observe the loneliness…. I allow my self to feel it….to express it….to know it…intimately. And in so doing, I gain a greater understanding of myself.

Today my friend Ron stopped by for a visit. He was on the road and was traveling by Asheville on his way home to Atlanta. What a delightful visit! To be in conversation with a friend who knows me, who stands authentically with me, who listens to my dreams and my fears and shares his own dreams and fears with me. I feel like I just had the best dose of medicine the doctor could have ever prescribed! Our visit was a gift – a beautiful gift that filled me with joy. My life is changing and how I view the world is changing. What I give to and what I receive from the world is changing. I am experiencing so much clarity around my friendships – relationships of all kinds – and paying attention to what feeds my soul and what sucks it dry.

I feel tired after our visit but in a very good way – loving conversation, fantastic food, and the beauty of nature was all offered to me today. And to top it off, I experienced more acceptance of myself and allowed myself to feel what I feel. This inspirement is very, very good!

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3 Responses to Loneliness

  1. marcilou@aol.com says:

    Thanks, Kate. I really related to this one, and sent it on to my (introverted, but not as much as moi) brother. You’ll enjoy meeting him someday; he is one of the two best men I’ve ever known. (And I wasn’t married/involved with the other one.) love you, Marcia

  2. Jean says:

    Thank you for this blog and your honesty. I can fully relate. Being overseas for 21 years now has left me more confused than ever. I feel like I do not fit in anywhere, and crave roots and balance. I do not have a place to call home and while I still keep in touch with old friends, our lives are very different. I’m 55 now (yikes – how did that happen?) and am searching. My heart and soul ache. I am currently in El Salvador and it’s been very difficult in all respects. I have been swimming against the tide (work/overseas) for so long now and YEARN for some stability, and to be surrounded by more spiritually in tune/aware people in my life.

    • Jean thank you for your comment. I have many friends who work overseas and having spent some time in Peace Corps, I understand. Follow your heart and if stability is calling, answer the call. I am so grateful to be where I am right now and while I feel in some ways I’m starting over, I am committed to my community in a way I have never been before. I feel I am finally committed to home. Holding you in love and peace, Kate

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