Loneliness by Brianna Valenzuela

The realization that we are alone in life can often be scary, depressing, and frankly, overwhelming if we consider the existential aspect of it all.  In this month of love, in which Valentine’s day can feel as though this realization is essentially thrown in your face, it’s common for feelings of loneliness to spring forward.

There are many ways in which we can feel alone.  One way could be the lack of connection to others through relationship, in which we are simply not in real touch with other humans. Then, there is the loneliness in which  there’s an estrangement from oneself. This inability to connect to one’s innermost self in a deep way is often what can lead one to reach out for connection to another human -- whether that be through family, friends, a romantic partner, a therapist, or a cozy animal friend.

I wish to speak today to the aspect of aloneness from ourselves.  How is it that we can feel so deeply alone, and not stop to consider if we are seeking companionship in our own self?  Our relationship to ourselves is often a work in progress, and the ability to be with oneself through deep emotions can be difficult, making it that much more challenging to allow ourselves or even find the capacity within to be alone with us and only us.  

Yet, when no one else is around, it is only us.  So how do we find companionship in ourselves?

One practice is the process of getting to know oneself - and by this, I mean to truly know oneself.  How do we look to our own heart, and find a way to understand why our heart beats the way it does, or cries and laughs and loves and rejects and fears and all the other crazy beautiful emotions that come with the human experience?  We can begin listening to what the inner child in us is expressing and needing. We get to decide that we choose not to abandon ourselves. Essentially, when we consider our individual experience in the world, how do we let ourselves know that we see who we are, and that we’re here to hold and be with ourselves through all the pain and joy?  

Another practice is self-love.  Self-love is radical because it’s choosing to see through the inevitable flaws we all come with, and choosing to love instead of hate. This practice can look vastly different for many people.  It can look like bubble baths and chocolate for one person, and learning how to say no and set boundaries for another. And, it can include all of the above and more. It can look like drinking water, establishing a regular sleep schedule, eating regularly throughout the day, maintain daily hygiene, getting medical/dental care when needed, replacing the word “should” with “could,” exercising/letting your body move however it pleases, going to therapy, talking to a friend, taking a break from social media, laying in the grass, reading a favorite children’s book out loud, drawing/painting, and much, much more. In this arena, it’s important to find what works for you. An important reminder that self-love is not selfish  - self-love creates an internal atmosphere of nurturance that allows us to heal and continue growing. We all deserve respect, love, and healing.

As we develop a deeper relationship to ourselves, we get to find what’s nourishing for us and the practices that allow us to flourish. We can begin to feel our soul, our spirit, is with us all along and see that we are never truly alone when we know ourselves. In the end, we get to become a companion to ourselves, and eventually, we find that we can be alone without being lonely.

I am not I.

I am this one

walking beside me whom I do not see,

whom at times I manage to visit,

and whom at other times I forget;

who remains calm and silent while I talk,

and forgives, gently, when I hate,

who walks where I am not,

who will remain standing when I die.

-Juan Ramón Jiménez, “I Am Not I”

Melissa Utz