Loneliness basically, if you can use that word without downplaying isolation, is a sadness that always overwhelmed me. Why? It is all because I believed that I had no friends, no family, no one who loved me, and no one who cared for and about me. I felt this way as an adult because I lived alone having never been married and never having my own children. These things left me with a sense of emptiness and at times, feeling numb. Truth be told, while sadness is an emotion, and feeling this way has been all too real for me, as a follower of Yeshua, (Jesus) the Messiah, I learned that the emotion lied to me. I did have family and friends who cared deeply for me, and also had my best interest at heart. Yet, with them not being able to be there for me when I thought they should've been, especially during the alone times, in my mind, the loneliness set in. It was my broken mind and my fragmented soul which told me otherwise. The Word (the Bible) has taught me that my enemy, Satan does his level best to steal from me, to kill me and/or to destroy me, and sadness uncontrolled is but one of his many tools. It made me not only think that I had been rejected, but to believe in my heart that people had turned away from me as well. 1 Peter 5:8 tells me the following, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." I admit it, I had been eaten alive with being alone that led to loneliness that led to sadness that opened the door to my own demise.
I grew up in my grandmother's home with my mom, aunties, uncles, cousins, brothers, our grandfather and even pets. We were not money-rich by any stretch of the imagination, yet we never went without good meals, clothing and shoes, education, vacations, and even more important than those things, love, acceptance, laughter and good times. Yet, there were still those times when I felt totally afraid, alone and lonely. I'd isolate myself from my family and childhood friends, not having a clue as to why I was doing so. It wasn't that I consciously evaded people though. I just did. When the nighttime came around, I felt compelled to walk, and I did. My dog Brownie I always had for protection, and I'd walk about my hometown Staunton, VA feeling like the lost lamb that I actually was. Wandering through the dark streets at night was my way of attempting to clear my cluttered and confused mind. Did it work? No. Unbeknownst to be back then, my brain was missing vital chemicals to cause it to function properly. I was later to learn that mental illness was a stronghold in my family, and not just on one side, but from my mom's and my dad's family.
Loneliness has been my not-so-silent partner for decades. It is what I've struggled with on a regular basis because it has screamed volumes to make itself known. Though I understand that other people also experience loneliness, I am of the belief that what I go through is felt in a more extreme way than others due to my issues concerning Bipolar Disorder. With that being said, I already isolated myself during times of great depression, therefore, experiencing loneliness on top of and during a cycle of depression made things worse. Much worse. Now, being depressed doesn't always lead to loneliness, but the factor is still there. In keeping myself away from people when I still craved human connection, I did a big disservice to who and what I am. I was brought up in a close-knit family and that we love fiercely, stay together and fight together, no matter what, so yes, my people (which now includes those who are not blood-related to me) are very near and dear to me. During those bouts of loneliness, I stayed stressed out, and there's a reason for this. I recently learned that I need to be around people not solely for the companionship, the love, the human touch, the laughter, etc., but also because in being alone too much, a particular hormone which produces stress, known as cortisol is increased. That makes a lot of sense why I sat around eating cans of frosting, experiencing Trichotillomania (hair-pulling), cutting myself, crying jags and more!
Eventually I decided and learned to study the Word of God more. It was then my eyes were opened to the Truth that He would never leave me nor forsake me. This lasted for some time, yet, I found, after a while, that I was beginning to recognize that loneliness had once again become both my friend and my enemy. Although the Bible has taught me, and I am rooted and grounded in knowing that the Lord will never leave me nor forsake me, and that a lot of people have tried to encourage me and soothe away my loneliness with those Scriptures, it does not always help. There came a time when I would have to reply to them, "Yes, this is true, but I am a human being and I need human touch, contact and conversation from people. I need hugs and to be able to look you eye-to-eye and see you smiling back at me. Let's face it, the Lord uses people here on earth." In saying that, we must learn to stop being so high-minded, if you will, that we cease using down-to-earth common sense that causes us to see the very real needs of others. Loneliness. It can break a heart.
What I do now is to reach out to those who are part of my inner circle. I used to tell myself not to bother people because they were busy and just did not want to hear from me. Forget that noise! I call people and/or text them. Some of them call and/or text back. As for the ones who do not, I often believe that either they are either busy with their own lives or they are simply too busy to get back with me, so I keep it moving and keep learning how not to become insulted, offended and not to wear my heart on my sleeve because in doing so, I leave myself open and vulnerable. I also get out of the apartment more, and not just to appointments with my physicians. If someone asks me to a cookout, I am going and I will purpose it in my heart to have a good time. I no longer do social media because for me, it's no longer fun. Some people use that as opportunities to tell all of their business, and well, I am just not interested any longer. Besides, I have pulled myself down far too much to allow anyone else to do so. I am kinder and gentler with myself whereas I once berated and beat myself up for the least little things. I don't allow anyone else to debase me either with foolishness. Most of all, I like me and I love me. I ceased to allow loneliness to control me. Instead, now I have control on it. One love.
Written by Keena H. Smith
June 11, 2020
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