Friendship needs no words – it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness. ~ Dag Hammarskjold
Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty. ~ Mother Teresa
Loneliness is about the scariest thing out there. ~ Joss Whedon
There was a time when I was a single mom. At that time I had only one child. She was adorable as can be… and she also had ADD, with VERY strong impulsivity. I knew she had ADD when she was just 18 months old (yes, I am trained to notice these things by profession, so not a shock that I picked up on it right away). My daughter was cute as a button, but also loud, active, and likely to break a number of items in any home we visited. We got some dinner invitations, some real and some pity invitations…. I could usually tell the difference (but not always). I also got uninvited to some events when people realized that I would be coming with my daughter. I was trying to be a good mother, trying not to be resentful (it was not my daughter’s fault she had ADD) – it was hard.
I went to a religious service once where the community was small and there was no established nursery with volunteers. I sat down, wanting to connect with people and wanting to plug-in spiritually, as I felt so depleted. My daughter wiggled, my daughter asked questions…….. people looked at us and stared, how dare we interrupt their worship experience. Our presence was destroying the “holiness” of the service. They could not commune with God if we were there. I was in the midst of a group of people and I never felt more alone. The irony was that this was a group of people who should have embraced a single mother within their community – a group of people who should understand that a loud child in their midst and embracing a single mom just might cause their service to be holier than any prior service…. they did not understand this. After about 20 minutes an older women came up to me and pointed out that there was a toy room outside the sanctuary off the lobby. I took my daughter there… no one else was there. The toys were old and beat up, we had nicer ones at home – I did not come to seek community to be on the outskirts. I walked out and never went back.
During those years it was easier for me to get take out or delivery when I had those twice a month moments when I did not feel like cooking. Going to a restaurant with my wiggly toddler made me feel more alone than choosing to stay home. In a crowd I would see all the people who were linked together, all of the families, all of the support…… it was easier to not see it, less painful. I felt so fortunate when I was blessed enough to meet my partner and loneliness became joy, companionship, and a life journey.
I am ashamed to admit, once I was no longer lonely I did not think about loneliness very often and also did not think of the other single people around me who may be experiencing the same depth of pain and sorrow of disconnection that I once felt.
Today, 236 days ’til 40, I long to be more aware of those around me who are lonely, who need someone to reach out to them and include them, be with them, assure them that they do not have to journey through this life alone. Reaching out is a gift that changes lives.