And when letters pour in, and emails pour in, and the whole world seems to need a love letter, I just want you to know…

I received a letter the other day. (Comical, right?)

It was the kind of letter that is painful to read because it stirred up old feelings and made me believe, for a mere moment or two, that I was right back in the muds of my yesterday. That, at any moment, I could be vulnerable to pulling the thread that would lead to my unraveling once again.

I stood still, I put the phone in my pocket, I breathed in to read:

I’m tired of feeling like this but cannot seem to break the cycle of blah. Part of me does not want to get better because I don’t want to get better just to fall apart again. How can I even begin to find something else to define me, when I feel so empty right now? Not that I expect you to answer or know the answers. I’ve had enough disappointment to know that no one has any answers. It’s just kind of a relief to be able to tell someone, and talk about it. That’s all I want to do anymore–talk about how sad I am, how much I need him & miss him. How angry I am. Am I even a good person anymore?”

She dumped her feelings upon the page.

I felt like I showed up to clean up the wreckage of Sandy with just a bucket and a mop. But more than her stories and her pains and her questions hitched to a prayer for answers, I felt my own emotions rushing back. I began nodding my head. I sucked back the tears. And I thought, “Goodness, I never had the courage to admit I felt this way. Ever.”

Instead, when my own life carried the same echoes of her print on the page, I ushered myself into a life of writing love letters to others and I covered my wounds with thin lined paper. I never faced the reality or taught myself this truth (this truth would have changed everything from the beginning): Loneliness is quite capable of swallowing us whole. And Loneliness will think to do a lot of things but it will will never think to spit us back up until we look around and realize that we have never been Alone.

Alone & Loneliness–they are two different things. One is thick and the other is a myth. We have never been alone, not a day in our lives. What kind of devil hissed this lie in our ears? Yes, we have felt tender. Yes, we have felt defeated. But no, we have never been alone so much as we have refused to let the others in.

Anyone who knows me–knows the heart of me, and the bone of me, and the bends of my smile–knows why I really started writing love letters.

It was not some strange aficionado for stationery. Never a day in my life have I ached to bring the art form of letter writing back to her fullness. It wasn’t a racing heart for cursive & curves on a page. It was a fear that I was very much alone in this world. It was a fear that I might never feel whole again. It was fear that not a single soul needed my footprints, my input, my laughter. It was a crippling belief that I would live and die and I would never have made noise in this world.

I fell apart and the letters just happened. And even in the scripting of hundreds of these letters, the falling-apart-ness never felt so robust, like it was going to be the end of me every single day.

And so, when this letter arrived in my mailbox the other day, that same familiar helplessness curled into my hip like a little girl gasping for her mama’s closeness. For a second I almost felt as though I was standing naked in the middle of the post office. Wanting to cry. And curl. And surrender. Because I don’t know each one of your faces and I have to get over the fact that it has come to kill me a bit inside.

I am not familiar with the frown lines of your yesterday. I would like to spend tiny eternities sipping tea with all of you but time is a cruel little mistress and she barely lets me pay the bills on time. And when letters pour in, and emails pour in, and the whole world seems to need a love letter, I just want you to know… No, I need you to know that you have never embarked on a journey of Loneliness alone. Even in this moment when the tears are dripping down your cheeks and you feel hollow and sucked dry, you are not alone. I know it feels otherwise. Trust me, I know it feels otherwise.

But Aloneness is something you need to admit. You need to talk of it. You need to speak it out into the air before it grows claws & legs & fangs on the inside and silences us into thinking that never a soul has tread on this lonely soil before. Every single one of us– short or stout, blue-eyed or kissed by the hollow of hazel– can tell stories of Loneliness. I know we’ve got so many of them. We could build cities out of stories of loneliness. There would be bridges and fountains and libraries and cafes made with the bold stackings of Loneliness.

The first step is to unravel it. To admit it. To go no more seconds, no more minutes, no more hours, thinking you are called to harboring emptiness alone. It’s not true. It is simply not true.

And hey, if you ever just need to let the loneliness drip out of you, you have my address. I will be reading.

PO Box 2061, North Haven, CT 06473

“I want to be my person” The real story behind the quotation

“When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.” Elizabeth Gilbert,  Eat, Pray, Love

I was once comfortably comfortable with being alone.

I used to play hide-and-seek only to be hidden and never to be sought. I would stay holed up in my bedroom for hours creating, drawing and conjuring characters and story lines. I never wanted to play with the other neighborhood kids. My mom nearly had to force me to call my boyfriends to let them know that I was alive and well and that I just preferred doing my own thing to sharing my day with them.

When we say, “I want to be by myself,” someone always thinks there is something wrong. Instantly. It’s as if it is not acceptable to want to be alone in today’s world. With all the routes of communication that surround us, why be alone when we can be connected? Constantly. Twenty. Four. Seven.

The post “I want to be my person,” was never intended to be that way. It ended up becoming a tale of validation instead of its true purpose to reflect a conversation with a good friend a few weeks back. Knees Tucked Under Themselves. In Her Car. Sharing Life Like A Juicy Secret At A Slumber Party. We were discussing how we all just want someone to talk to. We are never content with loneliness. We seek someone to receive our good days, our bad days and our mediocre to-do lists throughout the day. Usually someone of the opposite sex.

Her response was, “I want to be my person.” That person that we can each rely on. That person that is comfortable with going about the day by herself. Not Needing To Dole Out Her Day To Other People. For Some Kind Of Validation. Pat On The Back. Support.

But that is far from easy. It is no piece of cake, for lack of a better cliché, to just be alone. For a week. A Day. Or Even An Hour. It seems like the days that I try I end up becoming bored and seeking out that conversation. I simply need to throw out a quick message into the world and receive an instant friend back. Someone To Talk To. Someone To Show Me I Am Not Alone.

I find myself crying out to be lonely. In The Way That I Once Was. I want to take “loneliness” and twist and tweak it into a good word, an acceptable word, a word we want on our team. I want to make it o.k. to say, “I am lonely today,” and people will nod their head and say “Oh yes, I had one of those days on Monday.” And it would o.k.

Because I wonder what it would mean to be lonely for a little while. To not seek out those conversations and lines of instant communication. To go about a few days by myself. What would I find if I forced myself to be my best friend? If I did not have to text my friends to help with decision-making? To ask someone for their opinion. Would I embrace a new kind of independence? Would I make more time for the right conversations, the meaningful ones, the ones I don’t carry on while I am doing ten thousand other tasks?

And I am learning the hard way that even if we surround ourselves with people and bombard our screens with several dialogues, that Loneliness will still arrive and seep into the conversations and be loud and boisterous and gawk in our faces. Because my loneliness wants to be acknowledged, it wants to be questioned and it wants to say, “How would you like to replace me? Be Real. Be True. Be Honest. Figure out how you want to replace me for something else. But here is the catch: You need to be alone first to figure it out.”

And who knows what we would find if we allowed ourselves that loneliness in each day as if it were just as essential as our multivitamins. If we shut ourselves off from the rest of the world to be our own person. To Be Independent. To Be Comfortably Comfortable With Being Alone.

Any tips from those who understand loneliness enough to let it in?