Lately, I’ve been feeling intensely alone. Not lonely. I very seldom feel lonely.
Here’s how I distinguish between the two:
Loneliness is that desire to be with other people when you are by yourself. That feeling you get when you really want others (or one particular other) near you.
Alone is something deeper. You can be surrounded by people, even people who love you (and who you love and want to be with) and still feel alone.
It is this ache deep in the heart that questions ‘Do I belong?’.
It is this fear (that verges on undeniable knowing) that you really are all alone in the world.
And in creeps alone-ness.
The other night I was all snuggled up with my boyfriend when this feeling of alone-ness crept in. I knew he loved me. I could feel his love for me.
And yet, that lonely ache wouldn’t ease. I snuggled closer. I engaged him verbally – anything to convince myself that I wasn’t alone; that I was loved and safe. It didn’t work. The ache remained.
Everything externally was in place. I was safe, warm and loved. There was nothing external to warrant this sense of alone-ness. And yet, there it was.
It’s pretty normal, I think, to try to ease this ache.
Well, for myself, I might ask for more attention and reassurances than usual from my boyfriend.
If feeling really insecure (and simultaneously out of touch with the underlying sensation of alone-ness), I might even demand to know that I am loved and wanted – which doesn’t work by the way.
There’s nothing like desperately demanding love or attention to totally make another person want nothing to do with you!
There are other ways as well.
Perhaps through being around people even more.
Or through alcohol or eating more than usual or shopping or allowing the busy-ness of the holidays to just keep you go, go, going.
(Being super busy is a great way to distract oneself from uncomfortable feelings.)
I don’t have a quick fix for this sense of alone-ness.
It’s something that I think is, at times anyway, part of all of us – this uneasy sense that on some level we don’t belong.
Or, that we will always be alone in the world, whether or not we are partnered. Whether or not we are surrounded by a loving, connected family.
With the holidays essentially here (!), I think there’s a good chance that this alone-ness may be even more accentuated for many of us. It seems that many (myself included) experience intensified feelings of isolation and alone-ness at this time of year.
There are some things we can try to make it easier.
I find just naming what is going on to be very helpful. Here I am, surrounded by people and yet, I feel so very alone.
Also, spending intentional quiet time alone – exaggerating and allowing the alone-ness vs trying to buffer it by being around people constantly.
Going into Owl Eyes (wide-angle vision) and tuning into the physical sensations (the ache itself) of alone-ness. Allowing the ache to just be there and using Owl Eyes to help find some space around it.
Or, perhaps writing a letter to the part of you that feels so alone – using sweet words to remind that part of you that the rest of you is there wanting to listen and offering love and support.
For myself, when this sense of aloneness is particularly strong…
… and after I’ve realized that this sense of alone-ness is what is fueling an intense insecurity and a desire to control things and to know (through some external means) that I am safe and loved…
Then… I practice feeling that ache, allowing it to be there, and I whisper my fears and insecurities (in private, most often, or to a tree or something else that won’t judge me).
I say out loud how alone I feel and I ask for help:
- For help just being in the mystery that is life.
- For help trusting that it is possible for love and safety to exist for me – both within and without.
- For help in meeting the ache with compassion and kindness.
- And, for help forgiving myself… for the times when I am unable and instead demand safety and love from others a in a vain attempt to ease this ache, this alone-ness.
For you, today:
I’m offering my story in the hopes that if you experience anything similar, especially now at the holidays, you will know you are not alone.
It’s not just you feeling this ache and this sense of not belonging.
I guess what I’m saying is this:
Perhaps we all feel alone – together.
I’m so grateful this Thanksgiving week (here in the States) to be here. With you.
As always, your thoughts, comments and stories are welcome.
chicsinger simone says
wow a nice post. Thank you and thanks for the reminder to use Owl Eyes. Enjoy the holiday!
Larisa Koehn says
Ty Barbary says
This is beautiful, and rings of truth. Thank you.
You’re not the only one who feels alone. Especially come the holidays.
Larisa Koehn says
I appreciate the reassurance that it’s not just me. Thanks!
Huh. Now that I am reading this, I realize that I have felt this often. I knew it wasn’t loneliness – I’ve never felt lonely – but it was something different and deeper. This is one of the reasons why the idea of losing the pup terrifies me. Because he reminds me that I do belong somewhere – and am worthy of love and kindness – for no other reason than that I exist. Eventually I hope I can find that inside myself.
Wishing you a holiday full of all the qualities you listed.
Larisa Koehn says
I love the idea of your pup holding that reminder for you. That’s really beautiful.
Tori Deaux says
A friend used to call this the Great Alone; I experience it fairly often. Thank you for reminding me to look at it – I think it’s gotten easier over the years, as I’ve become more comfortable with being me, less fretful about wanting to belong like others.
But still, it is uncomfortable. And just being in it? Sometimes very, very hard.
Larisa Koehn says
The Great Alone! That’s great. 🙂
And, I’m happy to hear it is getting easier for you. I think you may be on to something with the whole ‘becoming more comfortable being yourself’ thing…
Oh, good gracious. I feel this quite often. I’ve been okay with it, but I’ve never really fully engaged it with various means. It’s become particularly obvious to me being in New York during the holidays several times. Inner alone-ness shows up in such stark contrast to the throngs of people and glittering lights.
Square-Peg Karen did a round-up this week of stories of finding solace in yourself, and this really fits into that idea. I love your idea of writing a letter to yourself. That’s something I hadn’t thought of in this instance, but writing myself letters always reminds me of how competent I am at providing the support I need.
Thanks so much, Larisa.
Larisa Koehn says
Thanks for the Square-Peg Karen tip, Kylie. I’ll check out her round up. And, I love hearing how effective writing letters to yourself is for you. That is awesome.
Paul Noonan says
good one! This post has a really nice quality to the words for me. I have the image of a grandparent coaxing a shy child out from a hiding place. Which, I would imagine is the quality you might want to have when addressing the part of yourself that feels alone. Gentle and reassuring.
Larisa Koehn says
Gentle and reassuring… yes, I like that. 🙂
Your posts are always spot on for me Larisa. Thank you for sharing this!
I had some of these feelings triggered recently and in such a huge way that it startled me. Wacky though it may sound I think it interacts with some very old instincts or memory. Fear of being alive on this earth, seperate and in pain and a sense of how easy and beautiful it is/could be on a soul level where we are connected to everything.
And then again I wonder if I am constructing meaning from something I can not possibly know with any certainty!
These feelings happen less and less nowadays but I think I have always had this kind of awareness (and often wished I hadn’t!)
Am curious as to whether this sounds familiar or resonates at all?
Hi Leila 🙂
So happy this post spoke to you.
And yes, absolutely, what you wrote resonates with me. When I really allow myself to tap into the ache, I feel so much grief – which to me really fits in with your comment. Knowing what is possible (the ease and beauty of connection on a soul level as you describe it) while often living a life of separation and pain – ow. Just ow.
Ow ow owwww.
A beautiful, tender, heartfelt post. I’m certain it serves many, thank you for sharing.
Judy Murdoch says
I loved this article, Larisa.
Could really relate to the “aloneness” idea. I wonder if this is when our hearts are longing for connection to the Divine ~ that desire for Unity with the a Greater Spirit?
I continue loving and learning from your deeply felt words.