I worry, sometimes, the damage that loneliness does to the spirit.
There are so many different types, so many aspects to loneliness that it is hard to quantify or qualify its effect. I would have to imagine that the majority of people don’t feel real and absolute loneliness of any kind, just as I would have to imagine that this is a good thing.
Do I feel real and absolute loneliness? No. Not anymore. I have though.
Not the kind where you are absent of any type of love in your life. I am fortunate to have parents who love me, friends who become family who send their kindness and compassion to me wherever I might be. Life has been kind enough to parade a variety of interested personages who have applied with much interest to be involved in my life to some degree.
But I do know the real and absolute loneliness of the self. That chasm that divides who you wish you were from what you believe you are. I know the terrible division between your self and the world around you. Partly from my depression and partly because I’m human.
I don’t feel that anymore, not for a long time anyway. Life has gifted me experience and children and they blow the cobwebs out of such dire circumstance.
But I also know that the damage is there. Scars, as designed, persist.
I once believed, perhaps through necessity or convenience, that love, a strong enough connection with another could heal those wounds, could make them a faded photo only to be recollected upon in nostalgic moments.
I know now that this simply isn’t true.
The love that grew in me for my children was vaster, more sublime than ever could have been explained to me. No one could have prepared me for it. Words are not capable. Before my kids I dwelt in a bathtub of feeling. That was its limit and it seemed adequate. After them, I sit in an ocean, an ever expanding, wild and alive ocean of pure and ferocious love.
And even that is not enough.
Real loneliness is trauma. It leaves you changed.
It makes you needy when you would rather not be and defensive and brittle when your soul cries different. Yet it gifts you empathy too and compassion. It creates stillness and depth of thought; texture of feeling and gentleness of touch.
It leaves you defiant, sure of yourself when alone, just as you can feel exposed and vulnerable around others.
The walking wounded. The silent sufferers. Broken armies of one.
No, not really.
Just people. Humans. Souls and spirits marching, strolling, pacing, running or crawling. Each on their own intersecting paths, spun high above us and deep below, barely aware of the other, dragging the accumulated excess of themselves behind them, pulling their coats tight in front to hide what might lay beneath, terrified of being exposed.
We are frightened and small creatures, strange inhabitants who invite winter in whilst pining for the sun.
And we’re beautiful for it.
How does one feel lonely in a world full of souls?
It takes a special kind of commitment, a unique breed.
I feel lonely at times, of course, but I no longer feel loneliness. I think the former is an awareness of an absence and the latter is a landscape. Yet we have taught ourselves to be so separated from one another, that we do not recognize that there is not a landscape on earth, real or imagined, that is devoid of life. We all walk that landscape of loneliness at one point or another, either on our own or whilst holding the hand of another through their journey.
We are never just alone. We are alone together.
All of us.