Embracing The Ache of Loneliness

February 13, 2014

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♦◊♦

This blog is dedicated to the lonely. Even the lonely who have partners.

Have you ever felt really lonely?

I mean that kind of loneliness where you lie awake at night and your chest pulses with soft ache and your heart slowly burns as some persistent thought insists you’re destined to go through this lifetime alone, that you’re never going to find The One – or even anyone – in whose loving arms you’ll finally experience … Home?

One late autumn many years ago, I was canoeing in the Canadian North Woods when I heard a faraway loon’s evocative cry float despondent across the still, dark surface of a vast lake. The haunting sound of its longing sank into me like winter sadness. I’ve never forgotten it.

It’s the sound my heart whispers out through my chest when I feel my aloneness severe.

Have you ever experienced this kind of loneliness?

You might have experienced it lying next to someone. Maybe even your husband or wife. That kind of loneliness can be torture. To be so close to a Bliss that refuses to let you in.

We’ve all felt such deep loneliness, regardless how or to what degree. It’s a byproduct of the human experience called “separate.” I’ve felt it plenty. Both alone and in bed with my partner. I felt it last night, alone. It visits me for various reasons.

For years I’ve distracted myself from facing whatever that ache really is by pursuing unhealthy relationships, engaging in empty flings and empty promises, desperate online dating, medicinal masturbation and eating sugar … lots and lots of sugar. I’ve made girlfriends responsible for fixing it once and for all. As mere mortals who don’t have such powers, I would blame them when it showed up again. I’ve also drowned myself with work, arrogance, porn, denial, even spiritual seeking; all so that I would have neither time nor energy to acknowledge its gnawing presence.

Since last summer, though, I’ve been cutting out most of that behavior (except a lot of that sugar). As I discover ever more what it means to honor my life as a masculine Man, I realize I must turn into and face this loneliness that stalks me like death, and that I can trace back to my earliest memories. Not to conquer it, but to embrace it and explore whatever wisdom must lie beneath its menacing mask.

To feel the pain of loneliness, is to feel death's embrace. Click to Tweet

So I have decided to get intimate with it, to invite it in and ask it questions.

I want to know it.

Not every day all the time – for I far more enjoy being my enthusiastic playful self. But when it clearly wants to come in, I allow it.

“If you want to get rid of something, you must first allow it to flourish.” ~ Byron Katie

When it shows up, as it did last night, I breathe with it. I ask what it believes. This is what it tells me: “I’m unlovable. Not good enough. Unworthy. Forever separate from everyone else, from Life, itself. Therefore no one will ever truly touch or know my true heart. I’m destined to be alone for all my days, and there’s nothing to do about it.”

Ouch.

Intellectually, I know it’s insane, this reclusive pain. Though it might be right about the last part. I might be destined to live out my days alone. How can I know?

Anyway, I just breathe with it. I give my chest freely to this ache and let it weep without trying to make it go away. I even agree with it, thinking silently, “Ok, fine, so this is basically how it’s always going to be. Me, alone in bed at night and through my days. Forever. So be it.”

And I let it cry.

I watch this passing weather. I breathe.

Within a short time, a few minutes, it dissipates like a dark storm cloud that has shed all its rain. The sun may not immediately return, but the ache settles and I feel my body whole again.

I notice I’m cozy in my warm bed, deeply grateful for the life I got to live today. I think of all the amazing friends I have and the brilliant, beautiful women I’ve been fortunate to know and experience love with in this lifetime.

At this point, even though I’m alone, my hope will often flicker as the sweet-tasting thought quickly returns that there must be a good woman on this planet right now dreaming up someone just like me.

Even through my doubting, I can feel her presence. And when she shows up, I think to myself, this ache will surely never return. Of course, I know better now, so I remind myself that it probably WILL return in a moment of sudden disconnect and fear. Such moments happen. In partnership and without.

Hopefully, facing and embracing this loneliness now will help me breathe into it then and not make it anyone’s fault. After all, it’s just weather passing. Insane weather, perhaps. Still just weather.

Then, as I lay thoughtful and alone in my bed, my awareness quickly fading, I turn excitedly towards my nighttime Dream-Team, curious to experience whatever epic adventures they’ve prepared for me this night. They never let me down.

And I sleep.

♦◊♦

p.s. I wrote this over a year before I met my beloved, Silvy – inside of this extraordinary relationship, I don’t sleep lonely anymore. If you want to learn how to create a relationship in which you never feel lonely, too, I strongly encourage you to download my audio course, “Love, Sex, Relationship Magic”  … it’s the foundation our relationship stands on.

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  • So beautiful. And so relevant to all of us- married or single, in partnership or not. With a valentine or without! There is that place in all of us that cannot be filled. Like extreme joy, it visits and passed

  • When love beckons to you follow him,
    Though his ways are hard and steep.
    And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
    Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him,
    Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
    For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
    Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
    So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth. Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
    He threshes you to make you naked.
    He sifts you to free you from your husks.
    He grinds you to whiteness.
    He kneads you until you are pliant;
    And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
    All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.
    But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
    Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
    Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
    Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
    Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love. When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, I am in the heart of God.”
    And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
    Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
    But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
    To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
    To know the pain of too much tenderness.
    To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
    And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
    To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
    To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
    To return home at eventide with gratitude;
    And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
    ~ Khalil Gibran

  • Thank you for your writings. They seem to always be relevant to my life. They are vulnerable, transparent and heart centered. I really appreciate each one I receive.

  • Bryan, you write so beautifully. Any woman would be so lucky to be in a relationship with you. I love your blog!! Suzi

  • This is a great blog. I look forward to reading more posts. I’m a similar age to you, although haven’t had relationships like most people have (long story) – but this blog is making me think a bit.

  • Wow, Bryan… Your articles speak right to my very soul… Brilliant work, my friend… as always…

    Aurelio.

  • I agree. When I feel this pain I usually distract myself with something unhealthy. My unhealthy habit is that I call psychic hotlines. I don’t date, don’t have any friends (not that I’m lonely for freindship- I jusf feel most people are unstable and will throw you off your path), but I was married for 15 years and this marriage- lackluster at best- allowed me to do what I do best- give of myself completely. I was so caught up in him that I lost myself. Now that I’ve forced myself to be my own best friend, I ve learned what it is like to be your own worse enemy .

    I’ve spent the past 3 years both growing and hiding. Hiding from society, close relationships, friendships. One could say I have put up a wall. Closed myself off- but I did this for growth. I feel authenticity is the foundation of all relationships- and we all lie to ourselves and each other. Women cover themselves in cosmetics- men in thier money…and we all hide our truths. Now, I feel if I am to present myself to the world I’d better be as close to a finished work as possible because the community I attach myself to in the near future will get all of me- heart, mind, body, soul… And I am a giver… I came to this planet to give completely and like Lao Tzu said I have to “empty and be full…” Thus my hiatus.
    And as my transformation commences, and I reach new highs and new lows…and this pain in my heart occurs I just give it full control, feel it deeply, and know…like physics teaches us…that what goes up must come down and eventually I have to feel its opposite “bliss” only to return to the abyss…then back blisd.
    And three years later, still desiring…seeing the manifestation of longing I wish I could see the mystery behind this feeling because, conceptually, I know I’ve loved the one I’m waiting for for aeons.
    And then I write this post…feel better… Still aching yet accepting that fate waits for noone. I know that better than most.

  • Thank you for sharing. I can relate to this in many ways. I think it is so interesting to read. I believe these feelings come from the idea that we are not truly home yet. “That are our hearts are restless until they rest with you O’Lord” (and that is what I have experienced). When I too feel this ache, I feel Our Lord gently embrace me and say- I see you and love you for who you are. Don’t believe the lies that you are destined to feel alone for ever or this is no hope in this dark hole.

    • Beautiful. And I’d agree. Our belief in separation – from life, from God, from Love – is the greatest cause of our suffering.

  • I know everyone can get lonely, even when surrounded by people. Yet people who have it all: a partner, family, friends, job, etc., should almost be ashamed of feeling lonely. Imagine there’s none of the above, there’s just you all by yourself, only then you know what loneliness really feels like…

    • I don’t believe anyone should be ashamed of how they feel. I don’t believe that’s actually helpful in any way.

  • I love the sentiment here, and… the CTA “If you want to learn how to create a relationship in which you never feel lonely” feels overpromising and inauthentic. Particularly since the original content refers to “[making] girlfriends responsible for fixing it once and for all” but then acknowledges that people are “mere mortals who don’t have such powers.”

    I agree that a good relationship helps. Cultivating an environment of mutual seeing, understanding, respect, care, and freedom in a partnership is a rich experience. It’s 100% worth investing time and energy into resources that help you do it. But it’s not a guarantee that you’ll never feel lonely again. I bet there’s a more authentic way to invite people into your course.

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