Loneliness is a dirty word. The slightest insinuation that you’re lonely normally brings with it a slap on the back and the stereotypical, “You need to be happy with yourself before you get into a relationship” line. Which is kind of a rude assumption when you think about it. Throwing around huge over-encompassing words like happy or satisfied with qualifiers like “with” and “by” can easily lead you into a semantic graveyard. I can be happy with myself, but not be happy by myself. Viewing any single thing as the cure all for every different person’s loneliness is not a helpful idea. You might just send someone on psychological goose chase. I don’t know why, but when some things are said they come off as if they’re asking for advice even when they aren’t. Saying “I’m lonely” to some people looks like a neon lit billboard on Las Vegas boulevard with giant flashing words that read “Give Advice” with a giant arrow pointing downward. However, In all seriousness though, people just want to help and you can’t get too upset and them for caring.
I was raised it a very unusual sub culture. In fact, when I get asked about it on tinder dates I normally, throw my head back, let out a single “ha”, and then change the subject. “Yeah, so how about that Donald Trump? Colorful guy isn’t he?” When I was a teenager, there was a recurring concept thrown at me. You must be fully content in being single before you can step into a relationship. Which was and is the stupidest play on logic I’ve ever seen. Is there such a thing as full, complete happiness in isolation? And if someone has it while single, why on earth would they risk it by throwing another person into the mix? If people are only getting into relationships after they are fully happy and satisfied, doesn’t that make romantic relationships look trivial? “I’m bored, let’s go out.”
A while back, I was having a conversation about relationships with some friends and someone mentioned that they were a little lonely. The way they hesitated in saying it and the way the others responded with a palatable pity made me say the same thing here, and I’m being completely honest.
Feeling lonely is ok.
There I said it.
It’s completely natural. Nothing is wrong with someone for feeling lonely. It’s our monkey brains are sending a signal for something that we need. If you don’t feel it, that’s fine as well, but if you do, don’t bury your head in the sand and try to ignore it, because it’s not something that just goes away.
Have you ever been hungry and then decided you should just work hard on being satisfied with your meal yesterday? No, so why do we try to MacGyver our emotions to do that? I’m also not suggesting we throw out the baby with the bathwater and welcome emotional anarchy either. Self introspection is necessary as with meditation. It’s taken me a couple of months to come to terms with some things about myself both good and bad. Why i feel some things and not others and vice versa. And one of the first ones I had to admit, was that I occasionally feel lonely… and that’s ok. Loneliness has a purpose.
The Divine Dance
No matter how far I’ve thrust myself off myself headfirst off of this theological cliff of mine, I still come back to its imagery. I like these lenses, I find beauty in the meaning of them, regardless if one considers them to be true or not. One of my favorite is the concept of The Divine Dance, it’s a distinct, relational understanding for the paradoxical, enveloping hypostasis of how the Trinity exists as 3 persons in a singular divinity. Another way of perceiving it is the relational space between the 3 persons that utterly emphasizes God as a social unity. That is the constantly swirling divine dance. As a result we are in that image as social beings, human unity approaches conformity to the image of God’s unity through self-giving, empathy, adoration for one another. Now I’m not just speaking about romance, but all of our relationships require a give and take, a back and forth. A continual spinning and swirling like electrons swirling around an atom, a natural sloshing like the water in a bath tub.
I once rode the spinning swings at a theme park with a girlfriend a while back, we chose seats about 30 feet from each other. She was in front, and I was behind. As we got up to speed and were spinning around in our own chairs, I felt like I was chasing her and then after a while, I felt like maybe she was chasing me. Like there was a reciprocal, cyclical pursuit approaching infinity. That space between, as it got smaller and smaller, that’s where everything magical happens.
Perhaps we’re supposed to feel lonely sometimes, how else can we better appreciate the experience that comes from intimacy with another human being. For me, loneliness reminds me of the beauty in The Divine Dance regardless of whether it’s empirically true. We are surrounded by so many people in this world; it makes sense that we are biologically driven for relationships. When we deny that, we’re not being bravely independent, we’re being stubbornly self-limiting. I’m not even sure if emotional independence exists. There are some emotions that literally cannot exist until you force yourself to connect with someone else.
I was once quoted, that loneliness made me feel like a puzzle piece that didn’t have a place or a person to fit with. But the more I confront my emotions, I realize that loneliness is a personal signpost, a reminder of something not far off. Loneliness still makes me feel like that puzzle piece, but now I feel there is absolutely a place for me to fit. And honestly, I find that beautiful.
Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time. -Albert Camus