There’s freedom on the other side of loneliness.

Sometimes I have this urge to say things and I don’t know who I should say them to. It can create this panic inside me, this feeling of energy in my chest that needs to escape.

I’m sitting here, a million things bouncing around in my brain and I just want to TALK about it. I pick up my phone and my mind searches for who I should reach out to… who would “get” this? Who is going to understand? Who wants to hear me talk about this?

I’ve come to realize that more often than not, no such person exists for me right now. And maybe that person will never exist and is just a false idol… because the person I really need to hear from is myself.

I’m trying to learn to sit with it. To sit with me.

It feels uncomfortable and lonely. I crave the connection of another… the support of a safe person who knows exactly what to say and can hold the space for me to figure out what is going on inside. That is absolutely necessary at times… healing does require relationships and outside support. But right now, in this season of growth, I am learning how to also hold that space for myself.

***

I have spent my life looking to others to tell me who to be. From a very young age, I gained love and approval by fulfilling the expectations of others. I was accepted because I was who they thought I was. I became who they wanted me to be.

“They” = anyone. Parents, teachers, friends, significant others…

It’s hard as hell to shed all of that in adulthood.

My default is to seek approval. To connect and find validation. I am really, really good at it. To my own detriment, really.

You see, I am pretty skilled at reading people. Their words, body language, energy… I usually know what someone wants to hear and what they don’t want to hear, and how they are most likely going to react to me. I can figure out pretty quickly & easily what I need to do or say to fulfill that person’s need from me. And I am able to adapt and adjust accordingly.

My empathic nature is a bit of a superpower.

(It also makes me a very dangerous poker player.) 😉

BUT.

My instinct of picking up my phone and reaching out to the “right” person is also an attempt at controlling the narrative around me. Knowing how others react to me means I know who is going to tell me what I want to hear.

***

So today, I sit. I put my phone down, and rather than reaching for connection with another, I connect with myself.

All that time I spent reading others and figuring out what THEY needed from me meant complete and total self-abandonment. My ONLY concern was making others happy. If they were happy, then I was “good”, and therefore worthy of their love in return.

It isn’t an uncommon story. Shout out to all my fellow people pleasers! *enthusiastic wave*

But now… I have learned too much. That wasn’t healthy. It wasn’t pious. It wasn’t sacrifice or love. It was protection and avoidance.

Avoidance of myself. Of acknowledging MY wants and MY needs.

Because avoiding admitting that I have wants and needs and desires meant avoiding the possible rejection of being told no. Or of being seen as foolish or selfish or needy, or upsetting someone…

GOD FORBID.

If I am not making everyone happy all the time, what am I even here for? What is my purpose? Am I even worthy of being seen & loved if I am not providing that value for others?

Spoiler alert: YES I AM.

***

I have developed a new skill now. One of self-awareness. I flipped my camera into selfie mode and instead of looking OUT to fulfill all the needs of those around me, I’m looking IN to make sure I’m getting my needs met first.

When I feel those pangs of loneliness and my first reaction is to scramble for someone to talk to, I now know that the person I’m most needing to connect with is myself. There’s a lot going on inside, and I need to sit and let myself sort it out. And what I DON’T need is to see how someone else thinks I should sort it out.

This goes against all of my instincts. But as it turns out, my instincts are just coping mechanisms I developed in order to survive chaotic environments. Those tried & true methods I learned to gain a sense of control, approval, and belonging in an otherwise unstable, lonely world…

My instincts need to be questioned.

At this point in my life, it seems that everything needs to be questioned.

***

This is pretty much what I do now. I question.

I fight my instincts to be affirmed, to fit in, to make sure I’m accepted. Instead, I question what *I* want. Who I want to be, how I want to show up in the world… I’m stepping fully into who I’m meant to be. While wearing my new 5 inch boss bitch heels…

This is hard, and scary, and it really is lonely sometimes. Because no one else can tell you who you are. They really can’t. It has to come from within you. Which requires a large amount of being quiet and listening to yourself.

And we hate that, don’t we?

We’d much rather drown out that internal noise with louder, more commonly accepted external noise. Social media, Netflix, friends, family, relationships, food, alcohol… even exercise can be an unhealthy distraction for some.

Anything to keep us from being alone with our thoughts! The horror!!

***

Snarkiness aside, it can be scary inside our own heads. I get it. Mine was a pretty big mess of sadness, anger, and denial for most of my life. Who wants to sit in that?

But it has been so, SO worth it. The pain, the heartbreak, the emotions… all leading to the honesty, the healing, the FREEDOM.

“Loneliness is a prerequisite for freedom. Freedom depends on the ability to reflect, and reflection can only begin when one is alone.”

Gao Xingjian

I have grown to appreciate my alone time. Covet it, even. Loneliness is no longer a problem I need to solve, it’s an opportunity for growth and expansion.

Just like any other relationship, the more time I spend with me, the better I get to know myself. I’m developing an unshakable trust in myself and who I am. It’s something that no one will ever be able to take from me.

THAT is freedom.

One thought on “There’s freedom on the other side of loneliness.”

  1. I realized a couple months ago that I have been using music to drown out my internal noise. So I have opted to turn it off during journaling and also before bed. I feel like giving my internal noise time to “be heard” has allowed my brain to process things I had struggled with before. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

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