On Being Lonely
Lonely. It’s a forlorn word. It’s not the same as being alone – which is often so delicious – and it doesn’t just happen when you are alone – you can be lonely, as it is said, in a crowd. In a city. At a party.
Lonely. It comes up often in my conversations with clients and friends. There seems to be a lot of it going around – so much change in such a short period of time has unmoored millions of us from the ties that held us to people, to place, to the real. Add the shiny fun of the on-line world where we can fill our needs without the mess or effort of fleshy human relationships – I can see why lonely is on the rise. As one woman wrote to me a few months ago, “I try to connect, I go to events, but people often come with someone and nothing seems to stick. It’s just easier sometimes to stay home with my dog and Netflix.”
I realized in the last year that I am lonely too often. Yes, I have a beloved husband-to-be, my daughter is my favorite woman on the planet, my best friend and I go back 42 years (!), and I need more community. In the flesh.
When I lived in Santa Barbara, I meet with the same women every week for 6 years. I hiked up Cold Springs with my three neighbors at 6 am. Lilly was little so play dates and kid’s classes and all that yummy melee was huge part of life.
Slowly, over the years, too much of this in the flesh community dropped away. My social network is world wide and stuns me (so many amazing people!) yet my day-to-day warp and weave of connection is too thin. My own struggles with being a 4 on the Enneagram (major belief: I don’t belong) + my work-work-work hard-hard-hard pattern contributes to my loneliness. And then there is the strange influence of the computer – I can feel connected all the time and, at the end the day, I can feel dried out and “screen burned” as my friend Chris calls it. I don’t interrupt my pattern of work-work-work – in fact, being on the computer and on social media helps me stay locked in that pattern.
Enter my oft-touted Brain Trust (Soul Posse/Mastermind/Peer group/Wisdom council, call it what you like). These beloveds have patiently helped me see my story of not belonging as the illusion it is (we all belong dammit!) and helped me break my work-work-work hard-hard-hard pattern.
Hence I write this from a friend’s beautiful kitchen in San Francisco. I’m in the Bay Area because I gifted myself a week of visiting friends – friends met on-line, friends from 25 years ago, friends I barely know but want to know more deeply.
It was hard to let myself spend the money and time to come – when I was traveling to the airport, I experienced a strange sensation of floating away and realized that I mostly travel for work or with Bob – I have a purpose or it’s something Bob and I created together. But to travel simply because I want to made me uneasy.
Which made me realize that unraveling lonely involves listening to and acting on my desire for connection. To make that desire a priority is the key to dissolving my loneliness. I know a bit of doh but that is how I learn.
So I have this trip and then another to Florida in March to see family and my best friend. I have three dates on the books for dinner at home. I’m thinking about teaching a regular writing/dance class on Bainbridge and maybe starting a woman’s group. I’m going to ask my neighbors over for dinner. I’m seeing my BrainTrust in my person in March and I’m not going to be focused much on getting work done but on being with them.
So I wonder – are you lonely? Can you tell me about that lonely? I think there is more ways I can serve here to help but I’m still (obviously) in the learning gathering stage. Has being on line made you more lonely or less? I’m so curious.
And if you have any interest in getting your own Soul Posse/Mastermind group going to help you dissolve your patterns and get your great work done, today I release my course at 50% off + you could win coaching. Invite your group and have your first meeting by March 1st and could win an hour of coaching with me – for your group or yourself personally. Plus everyone who convenes a group for by March 1st gets the famed Satisfaction Finder as a gift. So connect, get support, save money, and win more stuff. Cool beans.