- How has loneliness been a part of your life?
- What thoughts or self-talk do you have that make you feel lonely (e.g. nobody likes me, no one understands me)?
- How do you isolate yourself from others?
- What do you do when you are feeling lonely?
- Have you ever felt like you belong? List some people, groups, or communities to which you belong?
December 14, 2011
Loneliness - Part 1
When I was twelve years old, I went to one of the many slumber parties that would sprinkle my childhood days. I was super excited to be going to this particular slumber party, though, because my best friend was the hostess. She lived next door (so there was the added comfort that I could just go home if things went wrong), and we had spent lots of time together playing in the wide open fields behind our houses. I was at ease about going to the party knowing that there was at least one person there who I could have fun with.
This definitely wasn’t always the case. After the abuse, I remember days when it felt like all of the color had been drained out the world. I would watch my peers play with their dolls and even beginning to gossip about which boy they thought was the cutest in the class. In those moments, I felt like a complete outsider. I wanted to scream at them, “How can you be so silly! Don’t you know really bad things happen in this world!?” I felt alone and like I just didn’t belong with these girls. This feeling has stayed with me through the years, even as the topics have gone from cute boys to, well, cute men.
Abuse changes how we see the world. It strips away our innocence and we grow up well before we should. It’s as though I was walking along a similar path with these other girls and then we reached a fork in the road. I continued on my journey that included the experience of abuse and they continued on theirs – minus abuse. My path was a bit thornier, bleaker but there were sometimes clearings where I could see the other path and the sun and laughter that was there. I’d try to soak up as much of it as I could – if even from a distance – but could never seem to break away from the path I was on.
This experience – of being forced to see the world too soon and, as a result, feeling like we just don’t belong – is one that stays with us for a long time. It is one of our stories – “I don’t belong.” As adults, we often find it hard to relate to others who haven’t shared our same path. We long for the look of recognition and ability to think deeply about things that matter and are turned off by relationships and conversations that remain shallow.
The trouble is that we are constantly out to prove that we don’t belong. So, regardless of the situation, we stand on the outside and judge, evaluate the situation rather than engage and bring an attitude of openness. We need to understand that the story of “I don’t belong” is greatly impacting how connected we are to others. We also need to accept and appreciate that not everyone is our cup of tea! You may find it harder to connect with others, but you only exacerbate the problem when you continue to have the attitude that you are somehow an outsider, flawed, damaged, or never fit in.
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