Lonely in a crowd. Seeing everyone else chat and interact and feeling like I live in a glass bubble. The feeling of being different, out of step, longing to feel included…how can I see anything good in feeling so isolated and alone?
I started my own group that included others. I did it, we had a group of about 10 bloggers that truly connected. It was awesome. Then someone came on and divided and some bloggers went off line to never blog again that I know of. I felt devastated. The place I thought I belonged was gone. I puzzled for a long time why it fell apart.
It was a loose group of connected people, a delicate balance easily pulled apart when conflict arose.
Then I realized that what I learned from aloneness is to recognize other people feeling alone too. I felt compassion for those that felt shutout, left out, outside, neglected. I knew what it was to be alone in a crowd so I can recognize someone else that is also feeling alone. I also came to understand that NO ONE and I mean NO ONE can help me feel connected without my cooperation. I needed to change to break through that glass bubble wall. I also discovered that all those people that I thought were so connected and included also felt lonely.
I practiced connectedness. I chose toddlers. Yup, I hung out in a nursery school class as a ‘volunteer.’ I brought their lunches. The children would cheer and the teachers encouraged them to thank me. I sat with them after school and read stories while they crowded all around me. I connected with all these amazing small persons. I took this practice and started applying it to bigger people. A bit scary from time to time, well actually most of the time. I worked at stepping up and stepping into situations that scared me silly but did it any way. I joined seminars and workshops that discussed how to help students feel connected. Guess what? The same skills that help a teacher connect with students help me connect with people.
Greet each person.
Notice and compliment achievements.
Encourage others when they are struggling.
I learned to connect when I allowed myself to feel vulnerable. I learned a bunch of stuff from Brene Brown on the power of vulnerability. https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability
So what good was my feeling of aloneness? That feeling encouraged me to move forward and make the effort to break down my personal barriers. I am aware and watchful for others that are feeling lonely or shut out. I step out of my bubble from time to time and make the effort to connect. I start with the people closest to me, family and friends that are already dear to me.
Yup, it was a real stunner for me to realize I was creating my own aloneness for self protection. I learned it is better to be alone than with an abuser. I learned that I am worth knowing as a person and the only was people can get to know me if I practice and work at vulnerability. I learned to love myself and love doing things alone. Sewing, photography, painting are all solitary activities.
Now I am still alone but I am not lonely. I can connect if I choose to but sometimes being alone is a lovely time to be with me.