My husband is from New Zealand, but I am from Texas. We got married at my grandparents’ house last Thanksgiving, and now we have been living in Auckland for a few months. I cannot work because we don’t have immigration consent as I am writing this post, so I have had little to do while my husband is in his last semester of nursing study.
I feel like I say that word a lot lately. Yet, somehow, even the word doesn’t carry the weight of the emotions conjoined into those three simple syllables.
We all feel lonely. And that is part of why this site exists – so that we know that we are never really alone. Thanks for that.
Part of my coping with this new time of my life – starting off in a new country with new people and foods and ways of joking and teasing – is by writing. Writing this blog, for example.
But in the last few weeks, loneliness has integrated itself into worthlessness and a lack of purpose. I had purpose when I was teaching English literature to teenagers. I had purpose when I was helping youth at my church community back home. I had purpose when I was planning a wedding. I had purpose when it was only me and I could dream of travelling and wandering and going wherever I wanted – whenever I wanted.
I’m learning something new. Life changes and sometimes purpose changes with it.
So how do I cope with this?
How do I get back to a life of purpose in the middle of so much change?
Through life, I have learned that when negativity floods in – whether it’s self-doubt, being fired from an easy job, or just someone looking at you the wrong way – immediate action is required. If not dealt with and changed to a positive, the negative thought or feeling seems to compound itself and leads to other negative thoughts and feelings.
My theory in working through loneliness is, at the present, largely based on the same skills we learn in counseling to combat depression. Both loneliness and depression can be debilitating, and one can lead into the other if the dice lands a certain way on the table of brain chemistry.
As someone who believes in Jesus, I have the ever-present peace of knowing that my faith is giving me purpose. That is more helpful than anything. I daily thank my God for the purpose and plans that he has for all of his children. That is my number one.
And so, here, I write my list of what I do (or try to do) to refocus and balance:
- Be in the light – both physically and spiritually.
- The sun not only gives us Vitamin D, it boosts serotonin, increasing mood. On cloudy days, my husband whips out this handy “lightbox” and turns it on right in front of my face. It helps me.
- The son of God is the light of the world. Without this source of light going into the deepest parts of my soul, I am empty. He fills voids created by loneliness. And I’m not even just saying that.
- Draw. Or Colour.
- Get an adult colouring book. Or a kid’s one. Create your own. Colours can be oddly therapeutic. So is colouring.
- Sometimes, I draw myself how I want to be – happy, peaceful, thinking good thoughts.
- Go to school. Any school. (Today, I’m sitting in a university library. I don’t attend here. 😉 )
- This may not be useful for many people, but I freakin’ love to learn. So I sit and I learn whatever I want to learn.
- Research your interests. I’m very interested in the subject and science of “loneliness” right now, as you can see. So I spent three months finding everything I could on the subject. I’ve also been studying pet therapy… because I want a dog. 🙂
- This is something I enjoy, partly because I learn so much myself through teaching.. So I’ve created a blog where I can do something like teaching while I’m unemployed!
- Socialize. Find the “Other” Person.
- Join a club, a church group, a gym. Be with other people. I joined a gym, and even though I don’t talk to anyone there, it’s nice just to be with people. The same goes for the library or a café!
- Our landlord has an 18 year old deaf cat at our house. I pet it when my husband is studying or at his clinicals. It’s just an animal, but being with something else that is alive and breathing is comforting. If you have an animal, cuddle it. If not, hamsters are cheap in the States. 🙂
- Be with your family, if you can. I can skype my parents. I can go to my in-laws’ house. I, personally, always “leave” feeling better.
- Tell your best friend, your husband, your wife, your kid – whoever – that you want to spend time with them. Make a plan, set a day, and enjoy every moment. One day when I was at my loneliest, Mark stayed home with me and took me to the wharf. A week later, I was still looking back to that day, feeling the good feelings over and over. Count the blessings of those days as hope during the bad days.
- Writing has always been my favourite thing to do, even though I’ve been shy and embarrassed to do it as much as I like. It’s therapeutic to write in a journal. It feels good to write a card to people I am thankful for.
What is your list? How do you deal with your lonely times? If you can’t think of anything, try to concentrate on what has always made you happy. Most of the things on my list fit into everything I wanted to be when I was a child: an author, an artist, and an adventurer. Look back at your childhood self. Where do you find joy? We all find joy in being with people on some level. How can that help you in your loneliness?
If you don’t have an answer, yet, then I hope and pray that by the end of this series, you will have one. Or two. Or many.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a series of, what I believe, will be useful articles on the problem of loneliness, solutions to help you through the loneliest times, and the hope that you can have within yourself to make it. Stay tuned for:
24 June Loneliness: It’s All of Us
27 June Loneliness: The Problem, the Paradoxical Virus, and a Cure
19 June Loneliness: Finding the “Inner” Person
1 July Loneliness: Finding the “Other” Person
4 July Loneliness: Finding Meaning in What you Do
6 July Loneliness: For the In-Between
8 July Loneliness: Understanding Loneliness in All People
11 July Loneliness: Helping Others, Helping Yourself
13 July Loneliness: Finding the “Upper” Person
15 July Final Thoughts on an Un-Final Topic
Loneliness is not something you alone feel. Everyone feels lonely. Many people feel chronically lonely. You are not alone in the fight to be with others and feel whole. It’s not just you. It’s all of us. Let’s take it head on – together.