This photo is a highlight from my summer, when two bear cubs came to visit us at Lake Chelan. They reminded me of the gentle and natural ways we take care of each other and how we connect in each other’s presence, as humans and as animals. These siblings cuddled and played (cautiously!) on this branch for over an hour—AMAZING to witness!
They also remind me of how feeling alone doesn’t actually have anything to do with being alone. I wondered, how is it loneliness takes hold? And how is it, when we are alone, we may not feel lonely at all.
In light of a significant loss in my life, here’s how this is unfolding for me…
As much as it feels true when my heart cries out in pain, I have come to know with as much certainty as I can possibly have, that I am Not Alone. Even in the face of heart-ache, heart-break, grief, loss, numbness, sorrow, despair, shame or disappointment, I am not alone. As much as we don’t want to be here, we are all here at different times throughout life. Feeling alone, disconnected, lost in the shadows—100% a human experience. Truth be told, even though I know this, IT STILL HURTS, a lot.
What I notice for myself now is a familiar pattern. When my heart has burst wide open in pain, I desperately want to be alone. Then inevitably what happens next, while I am in fact on my own, is the thinking mind, looking to join the ‘team of pain’ felt in the body and heart, pops up with, “I am alone.” This was in fact a historical truth for me, because at one time I did believe I was alone. However, after 17-years of living with this belief and it’s root, called depression, I have excavated and exterminated that belief along with the depression itself and all its related self-deprecating badness. NO MORE, NO THANK YOU!
That said, the thought “I am alone” still tries itself on with me at times, and for this thought to never turn into a belief again I must do what any good Mindfulness teaching human would do—-I squash it! Like a cockroach on my kitchen floor (not that I have cockroaches—mind you!)
It is here I must pause and gently remind myself of the vast difference between being alone, and feeling alone.
Wanting to be alone, and being alone, is part of my introverted nature, and is deeply restoring and healing for me. When I am alone I can more easily make contact with my body, soothe my nervous system and make the necessary connections I need to process what’s going on.
Feeling alone is quite a different beast. For me, it is at its source about feeling disconnected, and a loss of temporary grounding. And in ways this makes sense. In my current state of grief, I feel lonely, empty, numb and lost. As if mom took a vital part of me with her and I am without my known ground and sense of connection.
When we are in pain and feeling deeply challenged to keep ourselves upright, it’s like we have been thrown into another universe. We need time to get reconnected and to make sense of what may be happening. It turns out what has always worked for me, and what I am doing now, isn’t about reconnecting to anyone else, “out there.” It is about connecting deeply to the ground beneath me and the body, mind, heart, me that is having this experience. With every heart break and ache in life, another opportunity to learn and to grow.
If you find yourself feeling alone in a way that is isolating, overwhelming, and or causing you to believe all kinds of not so nice things about yourself, please ask for help. We are in this human experiment called life together, and if there is any part of what I have learned that may serve you, then let’s learn to reconnect, restore, and heal—together.
Read more about my new Mindfulness-Based Coaching offering.
You Are Not Alone
In This Together, Kari