Loneliness has a way of being sobering, cleansing, and purifying. Many times, we fashion our lives around trying to escape loneliness or avoiding it. We will build elaborate plans, stay in unhealthy situations, and keep coming back to the same toxic tap in order to alleviate the potential for loneliness. It seems, perhaps more than anything else in our lives, this is what we tend to fear the most: aloneness. It makes sense in many ways. Distraction is an aphrodisiac and serves as the perfect counterpoint to what we truly do fear: what lies beneath the veneer of our minds. If there is one thing we will exert an unimaginable amount of energy toward, it’s avoidance of our own darkness, what lurks in the untouched corners of our minds.
There is nothing more sobering than the silence of loneliness. It’s a kind of clarity that many of us spend our time, energy, and money hoping to avoid. We will deconstruct our lives before we allow ourselves a moment alone. At the end of the day, we trust the predictability of self-destruction and distraction more than we trust ourselves. Because, what we truly crave is to be known by others in a clear and pure way, yet we do not know how to know ourselves in that same way. There is not a lot we are willing to expose to others that we will not expose to ourselves first. We are, in many ways, limited by what we allow ourselves to know when we’re faced with the harsh world of our own loneliness. If we will not see ourselves, how do we expect to be seen by anyone else? If the darkness that loiters in all of us is too shameful for our alone, then there will always be parts of us concealed from others. Not ‘others’ in the sense of a romantic love, but anyone, everyone. When we do not allow a true connection with ourselves within that aloneness, then we disrupt the potential for connection with other people. It starts with us, always.
Most of us are likely frightened of our aloneness. This is why we reach out for romantic love so desperately. Another person can serve as a subtle distraction. Anything which we use in order to stave off the sobering clarity of being isolated is a distraction. This doesn’t mean we cannot invite others into our lives. It simply means that if we are inviting others into our world out of a need to avoid ourselves, we are doing nothing but a disservice to them and to us. People can share in their aloneness, but it first starts with the ability to confront ourselves fully and completely and nakedly without compulsively reaching for the nearest thing to distract ourselves from that moment. If the sole reason to bring something into our lives is born from our need to stave off loneliness, we are simply surviving. We are curbing a need, a compulsion. We are throwing a band-aid over the tiny scratch which conceals a much larger wound beneath the surface.
It is quite a different experience to be in a room of people for the joy of it, rather than out of a need to not be alone. The former allows us to fully immerse into the experience. The latter is anxiety-ridden. It’s full of grasping and needing and forcing, feelings that are not synonymous with a sense of inner peace, this same sense we crave. If forced, many of us would say that we do crave peace in our aloneness. We would welcome our isolation if the stipulation to our loneliness wasn’t that we’d be pressed to face our demons. Because, that’s what we’re afraid of: what will rear its ugly head when we’re forced to sit with ourselves. It’s the fear in that darkness without realizing that there’s nothing to be afraid of once we shine the light. There is nothing in our loneliness that is worth forcibly removing from our lives. There is truly nothing to fear from our alone except the belief that there is something to fear.
It doesn’t take much to imagine how our lives could transform if we were not afraid of loneliness. We would invite people into our lives which enrich us. If our solitude is not something to escape and perhaps something we relish in, then we can experience the joy of what will come into our lives when we do not need whoever or whatever to stave off our loneliness. It is obvious that the people or things or activities that we will fill our lives with would be to our benefit and would bring us more love and more joy. We only grasp desperately for whoever or whatever will take us when we fear ourselves, that sobering silence of solitude.
So, embrace the lonely. Do not fear it. Immerse yourself fully in it. Be alone. Be fully and completely alone. Face yourself and, when your solitude no longer feels like a prison sentence, begin to invite more into your life. Add to your life not out of a grasping need, but out of a true desire. This is how you face your loneliness. This is how you stare down the barrel of the gun and come out brave.