The 7 Ways I move through Loneliness as I discover my True Calling
I haven't written a full blog post in a little while - I've been connecting over Instagram a fair bit, pouring myself into that venue (find me there! carry_on_chiara). I admit I do love Instagram because it allows me to post pictures as well as write a bit, and it's not a "how many friends do I have and will they like my post or will they even actually comment on it and does it really matter to me" site, which is how I see Facebook. You may already know that I've been asked to be a part of something truly amazing: I will be a published author as of May 2021, writing for the newest series of books that are the brainchild of YGT (You've Got This) Mama. YGT Mama supports women in ways I never knew was possible; in even the short time I've been involved with these women and this process, I have felt loved and cared for in some incredible ways. I was cooking dinner (being "helped" by my daughter) and listening to my new favorite radio station, Peggy 99.1 (the most amazing mix radio station out of Winnipeg), and Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All" came on. I was belting it out to my daughter, who at one point was so offended actually said "Stop singing, mommy!".
The song began to wind down... and the very last lyrics of the song are:
"And if, by chance, that special place
That you've been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love."
I felt like these lines stole the air out of the room. I had to catch my breath, and my daughter was visibly curious about my immediate change in demeanour. These words are exactly how I've been feeling for the last 6 months or so. It should come as no surprise to any of you that I see a therapist- my current life changes and how everything around me seems to be developing, unknown, and unstable are a big part of what she's helping me work through.
I shook off my emotional reaction to the song, wanting to maintain our happy meal-making event, and moved on. But I feel like my ambition to become a writer and to support others, along with all of my life changes have led to a pretty lonely place. Truth be told, and I'm going to get real here... I'm lonely.
I'm used to being surrounded by people, by friends, and by a lot of distraction. But one of the blessings of going through traumatic stuff in your life is that it weeds things out, and unless you work really really hard, you're going to be stuck where you were. To use a gardening metaphor: If all you do is pull out weeds and don't plant anything new, you're just left with barren land. And the point of life is growth, constant growth, and becoming... becoming the amazing person you were created to be. That person isn't the same person you were created to be 20 years ago, 10 years ago, or even 1 year ago; the person you were created to be NOW is an incredible human who will do wondrous things. I am constantly reminding myself of this, because things change, life changes, and relationships change. And I am reminding myself that just because relationships have changed doesn't mean that I'm not worthy of amazing relationships- it is as simple as outgrowing certain dynamics and knowing what I need, and that others are probably doing the same. And it's all ok and it doesn't detract from how we loved and cared for each other.
Now this loneliness... don't you for one second feel badly for me. It is all a part of the growth and some of it is a choice, and some of it is due to me following my calling and rearranging my priorities. Here's that quote from my Dad again: "You have exactly enough time for everything that is important to you." And right now, becoming who I was created to be and making it financially viable is pretty darn important. I find the older I get, the more precious time is, and really, when you talk about time, you probably mean energy (a concept my editor - and new friend - brought to me). It's not so much hours in the day that we invest, it's energy. And we should only be investing energy in whatever it is that brings us joy or fulfilment, and also avoid anything that only asks and demands. I'm not saying to only do selfish things, I'm saying that if what you are doing drains you and leaves you feeling empty, it's not a valuable investment nor is it worthy of your precious time.
In Canada, studies have found that one in five Canadians identify as being lonely. One of my causes of loneliness is that for over 7 years, I lived with another adult (my ex-husband), and we shared our lives and our stories and our time. I had a first call, a first thought, and someone whose job it was to care for me and be present with me. I know I've got my daughter, but there's only so much "giving" a 2 year old is capable of.
So what do I do when I'm feeling lonely?
Laugh. I call someone I know will make me laugh, or I put on a show that I find hilarious. Laughter is SUCH medicine when you're feeling down. I have a dance party with my daughter or tickle her, because her little giggle is the most amazing sound I've ever heard. I play with my cat because she does funny somersaults and rolls around. I do my best to make someone else laugh, because I'm friggin hilarious.
Cry. It's important to feel things, and not deny that inside you need some release of tension. Let it all out. Don't wallow there, but let it out. Allow yourself to feel and honor what you're going through.
Write. There is something so therapeutic about journaling feelings as a way to process them and move through them. I am often guilty of saying what I should have written down instead; mostly because it may fall on deaf ears or make the situation more complicated rather than moving toward a solution. Sometimes the only person who needs to know what you have to say is you, even if it is the (your) truth.
Talk. Expanding on things being therapeutic in writing, I talk to my therapist, or a friend or family member. I need to remind myself that those close to me can't be objective, but I'm a bit of a verbal processor when it comes to, well, everything (ask the girls on my soccer team how much I talk on the field!) so it helps me immensely to talk things out.
Read. I take the time to either read a book about where I am, where I want to be, or research how others have moved through how I'm feeling. This helps me see how or what they did and how it might help me (kindof like you're doing right now!).
Meditate / Pray: I do both of these. As a Christian, praying helps me immensely, because I give what I'm going through to God. I also meditate, quiet my mind, and spend time being still and listening to my heart and my breath. There are lots of apps that help me with both of these, please reach out if you'd like to know my favorites!
Open myself to something new. I am an outgoing introvert- this means I am comfortable talking to pretty much anyone, but I also need down-time to regain my energy. I recently reached out to some neighbours and invited them over to help me with my outfits for my photo shoot (oh yeah! New website pictures are coming!). I was a bit nervous that it would seem weird that I was inviting people I barely knew to attend what was essentially a super-awkward fashion show, but we had a lot of laughs, connected, and I now have 2 new friends.
If you're feeling lonely, you're not alone. There are so many going through something similar - and while nobody can or will process it the same way you will, be reassured that you're not the only one feeling that way. The internet is a bit of a curse but also is an amazing place to connect with others; I have learned that you don't need to be in the physical presence of others to feel connected and to feel loved. And heck, Covid has done wonders for connecting virtually!
Another point I didn't mention because it's a bit obscure: Say "yes". Say yes to growth, to processing whatever you're going through, to the invite to go for a walk with your 70-something neighbour (I did, and he is one of the most lovely people I've ever met). Say yes to not feeling sorry for yourself and finding your joy. Say yes to that positive yet difficult thing you've always wanted to do but were too afraid to try. Say yes to Whitney Houston and find your strength in loving yourself (which she says is the greatest love). Say heck yes to living your life the best way you know how and to becoming the amazing person you were created to be.