Sitting beside Lonely

As social and outgoing as I can be, I have often carried with me an acute sense of being alone. Some years it has felt stronger than others, some days it feels stronger than others. Whether in a relationship or not, whether in a large group or spending time with another person. No matter how many family members, friends or acquaintances I have around me, there is this feeling so close and intimate that it almost feels like a second skin. It’s always just there. Just outside of my peripheral vision. My shadow’s shadow.

Sometimes I wear it like an invisibility cloak…or like Fierce Independence….particularly when I’m out in large crowds by myself. It is both a shield against anyone who would try to get too close and a big neon sign attracting curious glances (at least that’s what my self-conscious nature tells me).

Walking along the Magnificent Mile in Chicago.

Walking along the Magnificent Mile in Chicago.

This feeling of isolation from the world hasn’t stopped me from living or being or achieving. It hasn’t stopped me from getting into relationships or from starting a family. In fact, it has motivated me to reach further and extend myself – sometimes more than comfortable – in order to find….what? I’m not yet sure.

I have traveled the world and gone on mini solo trips – most recently to Chicago – in an effort to challenge myself. To overcome being alone by taking it on with heaps of Bravery and Strength, all without really knowing what it was that I was looking for – what I was looking or not looking at.

My first breakfast in Chicago at Pierrot Gourmet on Rush St.

My first breakfast in Chicago at Pierrot Gourmet on Rush St.

My first walk down to the beach, north of the Magnificent Mile in Chicago.

My first walk down to the beach, north of the Magnificent Mile in Chicago.

When I was in Chicago, I walked, shopped and ate out by myself. I chatted with store employees, bartenders, hotel staff – all very friendly people. I felt people look at me, gauge my alone-ness and offer me smiles, conversation and thoughts on what I should go see next. I called my kids and messaged with friends from home, sharing some of my adventures to keep a feeling of connectedness with Real Life. It made me feel less lonely in those moments, but the moment I carried on, I was back under the invisibility cloak.

It wasn’t until my flight home from Chicago, half asleep on the plane from O’Hare to Breslau, that a small thought whispered in my inner ear, “Get to know Lonely.”

Because I’m a word geek, the sentence structure and personification caught my attention at first. As I rolled the thought around, turned it over and gave it a mental nudge, it occurred to me that I had never taken the time to really get to know and understand Lonely as an entity. Every time I sensed Lonely looking at me, I would look away. I would distract myself – with an experience or even just a text message. This time, I felt my mind turn inward and it was like I was sitting beside a familiar friend – looking right at this Lonely, this constant companion. Here she sits….and she’s ok. Not scary or overwhelming. Just quiet.

I am interested now to spend more time sitting beside Lonely, getting to know her. Perhaps even becoming friends and relishing how comfortable being on my own can be. I don’t know if I’ll ever be without Lonely. What I do know is that I won’t feel the need to turn away. Instead, I can pull up a chair and we can just sit a spell together.

The most amazing Ahi tuna burger I have ever had, bar-none, thanks to a recommendation from Gregg the bartender at American Junkie, Chicago.

The most amazing Ahi tuna burger I have ever had, bar-none, thanks to a recommendation from Gregg the bartender at American Junkie, Chicago.

Down by Navy Pier in Chicago on a Sunday morning.

Down by Navy Pier in Chicago on a Sunday morning.

Advertisements

Please leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: