It recently came to my consciousness to write a piece about Loneliness, because it is something I’ve struggled with for many years. Loneliness has shrouded me in darkness at times, presenting itself as a force that was happening to me, caging me in and weighing on my heart in the most inexplicable ways.
It is only recently that I’ve gained perspective and understanding of Loneliness and Solitude as elements of myself that I have the capacity to bring a healthy, healing energy towards. In honor of the steps I am taking towards bringing my whole self into the light, I would like to share my Story with Loneliness, as well as a few Principles and Practices I have integrated into my life thus far, which allow me to move towards Wholeness and Harmony within myself.
I am still on my journey in exploring and understanding Loneliness and how it shapes and manifests within me and my life, how it affects my mental health, and how to reclaim my power within. But since embarking on this segment of my journey, I already have much to share. I hope this helps anyone out there who has ever experienced—or is currently experiencing similar feelings. Thank you for your presence.
I’ve been a Loner ever since I can imagine.
My earliest memories of solitude date back to preschool. At 2 years old, I often played alone, while I watched other kids split up into their dynamic duos and usual friend groups.
I was painfully shy the first few years of my life, often hiding behind my Mothers legs when guests came over to greet me. I was far more likely to be found with my nose in a book, or writing in my Minnie-Mouse journal, or outdoors, trying to keep up with my big brother’s shenanigans.
Despite my reserved nature, I enjoyed a few good friendships throughout my childhood and teen years—even some unforgettable best friends. A new world of color and diversity inspired me to emerge from my shell when I began attending public school in 4th grade.
One thing that challenged me throughout my formative years–was the fact that my social environment was often shifting and changing. From pre-school to high-school, I changed schools a total of 13 times.
On a couple of occasions, it was to accommodate a family move. Other times, it was to accommodate my advanced academic needs, or to find an environment where I felt more emotionally at ease.
My family was loving and upstanding, but we weren’t perfect. Growing up, there were a lot of pieces of my coming-of-age that remained un-spoken to in the ways I needed. And perhaps I was more sensitive to toxic energy than I knew.
So, around age 14, I began to rebel, seeking out loopholes and relationships to escape reality with drugs, alcohol and sex. When my Mom discovered my pastimes, she grounded me. That didn’t deter me. So for the next year, I was perpetually grounded, going straight home to my bedroom where I spent hours alone by myself, secretly getting high, writing, drawing, unable to see friends. That Era was Painfully Isolating.
Mom did eventually place me in a cool afterschool program, which was helpful, but we still endured a very difficult relationship. Around that time, I felt so oppressed in our relationship that I didn’t speak to her for 3 months. Then, at age 15, I was forced to attend a strict boarding school in Nigeria for two years, because that’s what my parents thought was best for me.
Whatever the reason, I constantly had to uproot my life and start from square one.
I was always the new kid. This made me adaptable. More independent.
I developed myself in a way in which I made decisions in accordance to what was best for me, rather than staying attached to what felt the most socially comfortable. For much of my life, I had no conception of social comfort.
Everywhere I went, I always felt different.
And sometimes, being different meant being alone.
So I learned how to be alone.
But I also grew up having good relationships that were very transient. Friendships came and went my whole life, and perhaps because of how much I was challenging myself in different environments, I quickly outgrew them.
I never felt lonely as a child, or at least I never processed my feelings as loneliness.
Perhaps it was the support I felt within my family, and the simple, uncomplicated bond we shared before I grew into myself as an adult and painfully recognized our intergenerational trauma. Or perhaps it was the casual friendships that I enjoyed as I evolved, before cultivating a deeper relationship with myself, and thus—requiring more from my relationships with others.
But somewhere along the line, as life changed and I grew older…around my mid-twenties…
I began to feel lonely.
And it came down on me like a ton of bricks.
Loneliness was a weight that lived in my heart. A cloud that followed me everywhere.
And it was something I couldn’t shake, no matter how hard I tried. Loneliness felt like it was woven into my being. Into my soul.
I didn’t understand where it was coming from, or how to be with it, because it hurt so much.
Around the time I first began to identify my Loneliness, I was going through a major transition in my adulthood. I was living at home with my family—with people who “loved” me, but who I didn’t have a close emotional bond with. I was finding and creating myself…
But when I looked around, I didn’t have any friends around me to open up my heart and really share what I was going through—a circumstance I would find myself in at many points in the future.
For the most part, it was just me and myself. And it has been that way.
Joy of Solitude
Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my own company very much. As I’ve grown more into myself as a woman and cultivated a healthier lifestyle where I’m in touch with my emotions—I’ve truly grown to be my own best friend.
I regularly gift myself with beautiful spa and dinner dates to celebrate life and my accomplishments. I spend time in nature with the companionship of my own breath and a journal beside me. I set intentions at night, and make sweet love to my own body.
And I am content in these moments.
One thing that I don’t often reveal about me—is that I often talk to myself out loud in my own company. I have full-blown conversations with myself from morning to night about my dreams, major life decisions, and my emotions. When I’m sad, I talk myself through the stream of tears.
I love the freedom that comes with loving myself and marching to the beat of my own drum. I find that I’m so accustomed to being in my own element, that it’s easier for me to intuit when a person, place or circumstance is or isn’t right for me. This has helped me make powerful decisions that lead to greater Joy and Abundance in my life.
It’s been such a beautiful journey to get to a place where I truly feel like I have a real relationship with myself.
It’s a process. Living in a world that encourages distraction from one’s inner-world and innate wisdom of the body, I am still recognizing patterns and habits that lead me to disconnect from my true self. My connection with my body, mind and spirit is still something that I am cultivating each day.
Despite this, and how far I’ve come…the pang of loneliness still hits me sometimes.
The nature of life has its ebb and flow. And sometimes, the ebb of life is too much for one person to bear all alone.
When I’m flowing, I cruise right alongside my solitude—taking on my everyday challenges with grace and ease. Touching base with loved ones who cheer me on from afar.
But in my most vulnerable moments, at the times when I really feel like I need a friend…I still often find myself looking around from side to side, and realizing that there’s no one I’ve built that deep connection with—where I feel comfortable pouring my heart out.
That’s when the dark cloud returns. The weight in my heart feels heavier. And I feel so very alone in this world.
In recent times, I’ve really begun to recognize the toll this takes on my mental health, and the importance of having nurturing relationships in my life to create a sustainable life for myself.
A True Friend
I’ve also gained awareness about what true friendship means to me. Over the years, I’ve grown more drawn towards deep, lasting friendships. I enjoy a rich social life in Berlin, with many casual and friendly, and interesting conversations—but those connections feel so distinctly different from a true friendship—that they’re like apples and oranges.
To me, a true friend is like a soul mate. We share an alignment in our life paths, values, and interests. But also, we possess the healthy foundation necessary to build a proper relationship.
Cultivating a relationship is like growing a beautiful flower. It requires daily watering, sun-energy, breathing room…and generous allowance of time to flourish organically.
It is an investment which must be chosen wisely and intentionally.
I want someone with whom I can share my life and fullest self, in all of my glory and imperfections. And I want that person to share their fullest self with me. To drink them in and love them…and for us to nourish each other and grow together. I want to be able to open my heart without fear or hesitation, because our communication pathways are naturally open and trusting of one another.
This is also how I feel about romantic relationships, which also rest upon the foundation of a friendship.
I’ve experienced my fair share of friendships which have been beautiful and valuable, but which have also felt distant in some fundamental way. This distance has been amplified as I’ve moved to different cities and countries in the past few years.
I remember around this time last year, when I felt the person who had been one of my closest friends for the past 6 years–slipping away. It was a slow burn.
Earlier in the year, she had confided in me about having recently ended a toxic relationship—something that she hid from me for several months because she was afraid of being judged. This deeply concerned me and caused a rift in our relationship, but we eventually worked it out and carried on until I left California for Germany.
Months later, we planned a shared trip to Spain. After the trip was over, I was saddened to see that she hadn’t celebrated our friendship as vibrantly or openly as I had—and she also didn’t speak to me for two weeks after we parted ways. Upon reaching out and checking in, she opened up and told me that she doesn’t feel comfortable being herself around me.
I took a good look at myself, and couldn’t find what it was that she felt within me that made her feel uncomfortable being her authentic self. I chalked it up to being something that was primarily her own feeling. Again, we talked it out to the extent that she claimed to feel “More Understood’ by me, and offered for us to continue our friendship, which I gladly accepted.
Then, about a month later, it happened again. The Loneliness hit me like a strong gust of wind.
After being emotionally knocked off my feet, I looked around from left to right. And I realized that I hadn’t spoken to my ‘friend’ in several weeks. It seemed that, despite our reconciliation, she wasn’t very interested in speaking on a regular basis. And thus, I didn’t feel comfortable reaching out for her support. After much deliberation, I gathered my courage and decided to reach out and share my feelings. I sent her a message, sharing in some detail– that I haven’t been feeling very well, and that I would like a friend to speak to—but due to our emotional distance, it doesn’t feel like I have one.
She saw my message that same day, and waited a whole week before responding. Several days later, I received a rather long response, with her telling me that she’s not sure what I want from her, but if I am asking for support, this is a really inefficient way of asking. She also went into detail about how I am living inside a self-fulfilling prophecy of loneliness, and that very little of what I’ve written is about her—it’s rather, all about me and the way I think and approach life.
She went on to say that I am pushing people away by buying into the idea that I am lonely, and the Universe will continue to validate my feelings of Aloneness, the more that I validate them within myself. Somewhere in there, she also included a note on how she herself feels loved, cared for, and has many friends in her life, despite having “Loner tendencies”. And that she prioritizes in-person relationships over long-distance ones, because she wants to spend less time in front of the screen—hence, why she doesn’t prioritize ours.
“If this isn’t working, then let’s both let go of it!” she finally said.
After receiving our exchange via Facebook messenger, I called her on the phone and left a voicemail, clarifying my original intention of sharing my feelings with her to open up honest discussion, and nothing else. She never phoned back. But I did receive a text message thanking me for the kind voicemail, and stating that she was about ready to move on.
On the inside, I felt shattered, broken and weak. It felt like being kicked when I was already down. I understood her intentions, how she said that she loved and cared about me. I even felt that some of the thoughts she shared with me about loneliness were right!
But I didn’t feel loved or empathized with. It felt like I was actually out in the rain, and someone with an umbrella who claimed to love me was standing in front of me, telling me that they’re so sorry I feel cold and wet, but I really need to go and find an umbrella. And then they went inside their warm, dry house, leaving me to find my way home.
And then, there was the context of how we ended. I was addressing how we claimed to be friends without being in what felt like a fully-fledged friendship, and how it was affecting me. But if I hadn’t approached her to share my own feelings, how long would we have “hung out” in no-man’s-land under the guise of friendship, when for her, our relationship had already reached a point of disposability?
I could accept us parting ways. I could also understand how my state of mind may not have felt healthy for her to be around, as she had claimed.
But it was the way we ended our friendship that hurt and evoked shame.
Somehow, I mustered enough strength inside my fingers to graciously thank her for sharing. And then, I promptly un-friended her from every social media account I had, repeatedly asking Instagram not to show me her content anymore. Seeing her was too painful.
For a while, I was recovering from the intensity of the blow (and the pain I was feeling before the blow!) to fully process what had happened. I listened to what she had said about me living in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Despite how brutally the message came into my life, I was beginning to examine that idea more closely.
It took a while for me to digest and understand. And, it took a few more relationships which reflected my woundedness back to me—for me to realize that this was an ongoing pattern in my life that I needed to figure out.
This year, I experienced a romantic partnership with someone who thought I had found authentic friendship with. Someone whom I felt my long-time prayers for a true friend had been answered. But this person also shared The Lonely Wound…and a few other wounds of her own that snatched my wig off! It wasn’t long before I found myself deeply reflected through a toxic relationship.
What primarily drew me in was—what felt like our profound connection.
At the time we had rekindled our relationship, Loneliness had unexpectedly driven me to a state of depression, and I was operating in Emotional Survival Mode. My partner was the one person who I felt had seen, heard, and connected with me in intricate ways that I felt deeply deprived of. For a brief moment in time, our connection felt like drinking an ice cold glass of water after walking alone in the desert for days. It was very emotional for me. We were tightly bound, and couldn’t get enough of each other.
Although we always expressed how much we deeply loved and cared for one another, the truth is that we didn’t know how to activate the love we claimed to feel because we were not operating from a healthy space within ourselves.
Our love was just a sentiment.
In choosing that relationship, I was merely getting my head above water from a deep, dark place. But once I could see where I was coming from and what laid ahead, sh*t got real clear for me…real fast.
With a clear mind and broken heart, I ended that relationship and continued to look within.
That’s when I saw in great detail–the rawness of my pain and anguish. I knew I needed to make a change from the inside out. Thus, I deepened my healing journey.