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Dr. Pacik

“Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.”
~ Jodi Picoult

We always hear that getting love begins with loving our self. Depending on others to ease our pain or erase our loneliness eventually weakens us and, therefore, proves dangerous. If our self is weak and needs other people to prop it up, it can become unable to function and can keep us from attaining emotional self-reliance. This form of weakness keeps us in toxic relationships where mutual using marks the drumbeats of the codependent dance. On the other hand, the absence of family, community and friendship can lead to isolation and depression. Lack of companionship, while seemingly the opposite of emotional dependency, withers our soul equally.

When loneliness is a constant state of being, it harkens back to a childhood wherein neglect and abandonment were the landscape of life. Without consistent, caring contact with adults, a young person will be left with emptiness, uncertainty about personal identity, and a fear of being alone. As is natural for such a child, either using other people to feel better or isolating into an inner world will be the “go to” survival options. But both these choices fail to allow them, as adults, to reach out to others for love, comfort, and companionship as a healthy way of validating and meeting their needs.

Both using people and isolating from them pale in effectiveness compared to seeking genuine human relatedness. If you had to use either of these maladaptive options and now live with loneliness, choosing to fill that void is a herculean feat requiring courage and diligence. Start now. Set the intention to change your pattern, then take one small step to connect sincerely with one other person or with a community. That’s all it takes to begin your ascent out of loneliness. When two people gather with honesty, magic can happen.

• Take a moment to think about your closest relationships. Are they a two-way street? Do they strengthen and nurture both of you, or are you taking advantage?
• Do you know the difference between loneliness and being alone? Being alone and enjoying your own company is a sign of mental health. When you are alone, do you always have the TV or music on for distraction? Can you tolerate silence or does it raise your anxiety? Challenge yourself to a silent experiment this week and turn off all distractions. Are you alone or lonely?

From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss