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

Sorry to say, they don’t have an app for this kind of thing just yet.

I am going there tonight.

The man who punches my ticket on the train knows it. The librarian, she knows it too. Even the man roasting hot dogs on the sidewalk of the New Haven Green gives me a look as if to say he knows it too.

I am going there tonight.

I stop at the red light, fingers drumming the steering wheel. A man in a silver Acura beside me. My eyes must tell him because I swear he mouths it to me, “Honey, honey, honey. You are going there tonight.” As if it were a tune. A melody.

“You have not been there in a while… It’s time, it’s time,” I say as I unroll the mat from its curled stature, letting it fall lifeless and flat onto the carpet before me. I stand on the edge of the mat and let the heat start to water my limbs, like a tin man begging for his oil. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.

I am going there tonight.

The sign on the glass door of the two-story brick building tells me from the start, in big thick Helvetica lettering, that I cannot bring anything into the room with me beyond a towel, water bottle, and yoga mat.

Nothing else.

No cell phone to buzz in the billows of my pocket. The calls will have to wait. No laptop to light up the dark of the room as the lights turn down and we lie in dead man’s pose. The email will be there when the 90 minutes is over. It will pile over the hour and a half. I am so sure.

And here I am: Most vulnerable in 104 degrees. Becoming my own version of a Little Teapot. Tip me over. Pour me out. Steam rises up from the floor, knitting itself around me and somehow the thought of No outlets. No easy ways out. No escapes. Comforts me.

104 degrees, 90 minutes and 27 postures to go, and all I am holding is a posture. A cobra pose. And my breath.

A layer of sweat welds my tank top to my body. I am reminded once more of The Thing That Is Wise To Realize As We Grow: that sometimes there is nowhere else to go but inward. Some days you have no choice but to get down deep in the depths of your own messy feelings and sort stuff out. Sorry to say, they don’t have an app for this kind of thing just yet.

Inward. Arguably, the hardest place to visit but a place we’ve all been called towards at one point or another. Not an easy path, not a known set of stepping stones. Like grandmother’s house… when you don’t yet know of the Big Bad Wolf’s hiding spot along the pathway. And yet, you know its best to brave the dark forest because something warm lies down there in the lit up windows of a place that strips you bare and dares you to look at your true self, beyond Twitter profiles and Linked In connections.

You need to go off on your own, there is no other way for It Will Keep you Sane, to once in a while, pull your apt-to-tapping fingers away from the keyboard to acknowledge the Real, True Feelings that sit in your stomach, waiting to come out from hiding places behind a junk box of email, like another one of Glinda’s terrified Munchkins.

Suddenly Loneliness is diving down into triangle pose beside me, Regret stands on one foot in a superb tree position and I am asking tough questions that don’t get answered in 140 characters or just one spell of quiet time: Do I love this girl in the mirror? Is she happy? Is her heartbeat being accounted for?  What will happen to her when she is alone?

Alone, alone, alone. Will she shrivel and die? Curl and cry?

Or will she be o.k.? When the Loneliness bends down and the Insecurity rises up to the rafters? Will she be o.k.? When Fear shares the mat and she’s forced to exhale the Smallness for Something Bigger, Something Grander? Will she be Braver? Will she be Stronger?

Will she be o.k? Lord, will she be o.k?

One day I will be able to say to my Little Ones: “This is how your Mommy came to write 207 Love Letters to 207 Strangers”


We sat in over-sized Alice chairs admiring the spouts of our teapots, appropriately short and stout, as they poured a sweet elixir into the bottom of our antique cups. We clinked our tea cups together and we made a toast. A Toast to Loneliness, Calluses and Love Letters. Two Months of Loneliness. Two rounded calluses on my writing hand. Two Hundred & Seven Love Letters Written.

Signed. Sealed. Delivered. I’m Yours.

I sat across from my Best Friend this weekend, a girl who has shown me a whole new dimension to what it means to miss someone in the last four months. We entangled the sharing of three cups of tea with dozens of Stories in one of my favorites spots in New York City. I moved my hands with each story, motioning all around me, to show her what I have learned from living in this Big City.

I think I have learned Loneliness best,” I told her.

Learned to greet Loneliness as if it were an old friend. Kiss it on the cheek and allow it to kiss back. Soft & Warm. Somehow Soft & Warm.

I never knew that Loneliness could be such a comforting feeling until it propelled me to write 207 Love Letters.  Thank You, Loneliness, for teaching a lost girl just how to script her Sadness into Love.

As you may remember, two months ago I began writing love letters to strangers on the 4 train. I became quite accustomed to the thrill of writing to strangers and leaving my letters behind as if they were my own personal trail of bread crumbs. Central Park. Grand Central Terminal. A Slew of Diners claiming to have the World’s Best Coffee. Through these letters I learned to pour out my heart to perfect strangers as if it were the same fine brew that spouted from my teapot. Leaving Letters Behind. For Some Romeo. Some Juliet. Some Heloise. Some Other Soul Who Needed Words That Day.

But the true gift behind these letters unveiled itself when you became involved. When we all stopped talking about Love Letters and we just started writing them. Asking for Them. Yes, yes, it all began when you pulled up a chair at my Love Letter Tea Party. Sitting Snug Between Ink, Stationary, Loneliness and a Cluster of Forty-Four Cent Stamps.

I never imagined on the day I promised a Snail Mail Love Letter to whoever emailed me their address that I would find my inbox full that night. Full of Requests from All Over the World. From Japan to Utah. From Canada to California. Some with Stories Tied to the request. Some Sad. Some Happy. Some in Desperate Need of a Linkage. Over 200 Love Letter Requests.

So what are you going to do now?” My mom asked me on the phone that night, knowing that I was already quite overwhelmed by promising a handwritten note.

I’ll start writing,” I told her. Because as much energy as it takes to write over 200 full pages of letters, I think it takes a lot more courage to ask a complete stranger to write you a love letter. I sent up a prayer to God for Strong Fingers, Strong Words and a little extra help on the postage, and then I began writing.

Anywhere. Everywhere. Each One Different. Giving me great practice in seeing all the ways one can dress up a single word. Love.

Some days writing Love Letters allowed me to tuck away my own Loneliness. Other days my Loneliness did her own little Macarena all over the stationary. And on the best days, my Loneliness unearthed itself from Behind the Ink & Signatures. Emerging like an extreme makeover contestant, coming out looking Radiant. Looking Like Love.

To all of you who asked for a letter, thank you for giving me the chance to write to you. To shatter the word “stranger” 207 times. That is an absolute dream come true for a girl adores any chance to shed the skin right off of that word. That is the best Christmas Gift I could have ever hoped to receive. You gave my Loneliness a purpose and for that reason I will never regret a single swooping of my cursive.

Many of You wrote your own Love Letters and allowed me to do the honors of sprinkling them all over Manhattan. Thank you for letting me pick the perfect spot. The perfect chance for someone else to hold that letter well & good. A Table in a Cafe. A Shelf of the NYC Library. A Pew in St. Pat’s Cathedral.

And a few beautiful souls sent stamps. They supplied the fuel for those Love Letters to do their own globe-trotting. Thank you for those stamps in the mail. For Pulling Out a Faded Book of Liberty Bell Stamps, Sitting Folded & Pristine in Your Wallet, and Handing Them to Me. Trusting I would put them straight to work in the corner of some envelope.

But one person in particular deserves the largest thank you of all. I have never been driven so quickly to try to tame my tears as when a box showed up at my Bronx apartment. Addressed to “As Simple as That”.I knelt down in my hallway, and opened the unaddressed package to reveal a Full Box, Bulging with Brand New Toys.

This is to the guy who sent a box full of toys to my class of preschoolers who might not have had Christmas gifts otherwise.

You attached a message that said you were not one for writing love letters. I hope you see that you wrote the very best Love Letter of all.

You taught me with your Gift that we all can write Love Letters. Some with Pencil. Some with Generosity. Some with Ears that Listen. Others with Hands that Hold. One way or another, we all have great potential to send a Love Letter off into this world. To Write Our Lives Into  A Love Letter, with the steps we take and the lives we touch.

I grew up saying that I would one day become a Professional Love Letter Writer and maybe I have finally reached that point. After setting down 207 final points of punctuation, I think I am finally there. And what have I learned from the calluses, the loneliness and the inbox full of requests?

That we are all in need of a Love Letter from time to time. A reminder that we are doing o.k. We are doing just fine. That someone, somewhere is sending us Light & Love. Be it from the Biggest City or the Smallest Town. With the Loudest Voice or the Quietest Whisper. To the One With the Toughest Exterior or the Most Broken Interior.

Turns out the world really does need more Love Letters and it looks like we have only just begun writing them.

Like Strings of Christmas Lights. Like Boughs of Holly. Like Fa La La La La, which an extra La to prove some point.

Some days my creative nonfiction techniques and fiction story lines get sassy together. On these days I think I write the best. Or at least I have the most fun.

I spent all day looking for the Bridge. You know the bridge, the purpose. A reason to sew this whole thing together without seeming too pathetic. A lot of us are building bridges though, scrounging up relevance so that we can pour our heart out onto a page and then feel more like Artists than People who wish for more “just seeing how you are doing” phone calls. Trust me, I am not the only one in this city keeping her eyes wide open for something to mention to someone who matters at the end of the day. I am not the only bridge builder.

So here it is: 2 minutes and 32 seconds. I thought you might want to know. That is the exact point. Right There. Two Minutes and Thirty-Two Seconds. Then hit the back button.

Thank me when you side swivel the drawn-out chorus on repeat. We all know that I would only listen to the first 43 seconds of the song if I had the choice. Some days I do . Lord knows, all I really need is the familiar bell sounds and the a capella of her voice. The rest is just gravy. But go back to the beginning at 2:32. You won’t get sick of the tune as quickly.

You know, for years she has been telling me that she does not want a lot for Christmas but this year I really get it. I really do. She and I are on the same page, I only want you too.

Don’t roll your eyes, I already pinpointed the spot in this letter where the first infamous rolling of the eyes would come in. At the very point where I mentioned Christmas. You want to say “too soon.” Might I remind you, this time last year I had the apartment fully decorated with a 5-pound box of cotton that turned out to be an obnoxious proponent in turning the bedroom into a Winter Wonderland. So don’t criticize me for starting the holiday season before Thanksgiving. Macy’s started first, so there.

I am sitting in a Starbucks window right now. It is the awkward spell of time between the briefing on food security and the Working Group for Girls meeting. I am choking back tears, sipping my Gingerbread latte, smiling at my red cup.

You want to tell me that I have cried a lot this year. I guess so. But welcomed tears, they are. Good & Welcomed Tears. Pampered by my eyelashes and cheeks, really. They are about as careful with the tears as an Italian Grandmother who hears you are hungry, or maybe a Greek one.

But oh yes, that song. Mariah. You think it is ridiculous already, the thought of me donning my snow-white ear warmers and combat boots that I have managed to fit into my Gap poster child wardrobe, tapping my feet at a busy intersection to commercial holiday music. But it is better than the Nutcracker, give me two more weeks for that one. And I bet you wouldn’t be so shotty if you knew it made me happy. That it makes me love the city a little more, to have a holiday soundtrack in the background.

Sure, there are days where loneliness is my only company. But Loneliness Is Not So Scary. Nothing to be afraid of. I am starting to see it is very much like when I used to connect my freckles with a Sharpie marker to make pretty pictures. Loneliness is a Connector between People. A feeling that freckles all of our timelines.

You’ll say I am pathetic for supporting such a capitalist cause like Starbucks but its the red cups at the holiday that make it all worth it. Every Bit of Capital. Because no matter where you find the red cup, you always feel like you are holding a bit of home between your hands.

This year they are harping on the notion of Strangers. Funny right, I thought that was my platform all along. Strangers is such a silly word. Silly before. Even Sillier After. Sometimes Sad. Sometimes. Sad.

I really want this to have a point. To prove to you that I am not just stringing together weak sentences these days. No, no, my sentences are strong. Like Strings of Christmas Lights. Like Boughs of Holly. Like Fa La La La La, which an extra La to prove some point.

So here it is: I am doing well, thank you. I am safe, thank you. The Bronx is not so bad, you should really come by sometime. The coffee is cheap, no coffee shops, but the coffee is cheap. I am taking care of myself. I am finding my way.

No, please don’t join the already assembled Chorus that is my mother, best friends, and a slew of others who believe that I need to do something for myself once in a while. I hope you know it too, putting myself on the back burner was the best thing I ever did for myself. One more stove top metaphor: I really believe that it is only when we put ourselves on the back burner do we find the real flame to life. I am helping people, and that is good. I really only need a hot cup of coffee and these ridiculously comfortable socks made for men who work in the cold all day. I wear them with everything, even under my dress boots. They make me smile.

And that is really the only point of this letter. The only Decent, Valuable, Valid Point. The Take Away. To remember to smile from time to time. Your smile is brilliant. da Vinci would have dumped Mona for a chance to use his palette on your smile. Seriously. The world misses it when it hides behind a furrowed brow.

So yea, scrap the Christmas song reference. Trash the mention of the Starbucks cup, and my pathetic mentions of loneliness and stove top metaphors.

And just smile. Would you?

Funny. This whole thing would probably be much more powerful knocked down from 1030 words to seven. Just Smile, you are doing just fine.

Ways To Stop Poverty. Step 1) Acknowledge your own.

I knew in that very moment, sadness had a sound…

A thick layer of frost covered the places where our ignorance had once been. So thick that we heard the sound from beneath our sleeping bags and extra layers. We knew our cardboard roof had fallen in.

We had constructed our home for the night as if it were a Lincoln Log cabin. Examining and planning our shelter meticulously. We were college students attempting to master the skill of cardboard shack building. But no amount of cardboard & diligence,  strategy & optimism, would guard our roof from the night’s chill and the frost she carried.

We cuddled closer to one another. She to I and I to She. We could barely muster an ounce of body heat but our whispered words and our visible breathing sustained us. She was cold. I was cold. Together we were freezing, Together Nonetheless.

Last November I slept out in the cold for a night with my college peers to attempt to put a face on poverty. It is one thing to talk about soup kitchens and cardboard beds. It is another thing entirely to hear the roar in your stomach when one serving of soup and two bread sticks just is not enough. Another thing entirely to feel your hands go numb. Another thing entirely to scrounge like a beggar, attempting to convert any shred of light in your soul into warmth for your body. It hits 2a.m. and you say to yourself, “Oh this is another thing entirely.

Often we think poverty and our mind draws up an image of a child in Africa with a belly bloated from starvation. Or a man on the church steps curled up into himself, preparing for the night’s sleep. Concrete Pillow.

But poverty is not merely a barren bank account or a foreclosed home. Not just a pile of food stamps and donated clothes.

Mother Teresa said it best, that poverty of the soul- hunger and thirsting for something to pull a person away from loneliness– is far different than the need for bread and water. There are a lot of us living in poverty right now. Some of us don’t even see it or recognize it after so hastily assigning the face of poverty to that homeless man or that welfare mother.

You cannot always touch it. You cannot always point a finger at it.  You cannot take a census of this kind of poverty, good luck packaging poverty for another human being into a statistic. All I can advise is sitting with a person long enough and you will see it in their face. An emptiness in their souls.

Some might say that the worst kind of poverty is a day without a friend, without people to talk with.

We need each other more than we care to admit.

All the things in the world will never be able to shield us from the day when we realize we are alone and we were never really crying out for more clothes and valuables. We were crying out conversation. The comfort of a shoulder aligned next to ours.

It was not until this morning did I realize the poverty in my own life. Standing in the middle of a Sunday church service. People Clapping. Singing. Dancing. Praising Sweet Jesus. And I was envious of them, because they all held hands so easily. They leaned on one another so completely. Someone might look at them and say, “They don’t have so much. I have more money, I have a better home.” I would laugh at this someone and reply, “Don’t you see it? They have everything. Everything that Matters. They will surely keep the world spinning with love for one another.I think I have met the richest people in all the world.

If you want to stop poverty, you must touch your own first.

I am only two weeks into my service and already I see how easy it is to construct a life around materialism. To live a life outward without ever nurturing the inward. Life gets hard when I can no longer hide behind a piece of plastic to swipe. A full closet. A computer screen and a signature. Life gets hard when you realize that all you have focused on really doesn’t even matter.

The roof is falling in and I am finally dealing with it. I have to. There is no other way. Normally I would attempt to fix the roof all by myself. I am getting used to this idea of others helping me build back up again.

I hope one day a person asks me this: “How do manage to take the insanity of this lifetime? There is so much struggling, suffering, heartache and injustice.”

You see, normally I would respond with some abstract idea about how we are all internally equipped with love and the power to push through. We simply prevail on our own.

But lately I think I might just look down at my hands, the very hands that will do good, good work in the next ten months. Not notice the hands, but notice the gaps. In Between The Fingers. They are welcomed gaps. They are not there by coincidence. The gaps exist for the fingers of another to fit perfectly inside of them. Be it the Love of my Life. A Friend of my Soul. The Ones Who Raised Me. A Stranger. No matter who, the gaps do exist for another.

A constant reminder: We were designed with gaps so that others could fill them. We were not designed to go this road alone.

A Visit from the Gaping Wallow and his Teary Friends.

I received a visit from the Gaping Wallow last night.

The Gaping Wallow is like that friend who continually nags you to catch up over a cup of coffee. You don’t have the energy nor the time but, upon finally meeting up, you find yourself happy for having gone.

The Gaping Wallow is very much like that sweatshirt that your mother insisted you bring for when the nighttime chills your shoulders. You reluctantly throw it balled up in the back seat of your car, but you find yourself thankful when your arms get chilly.

The Gaping Wallow is a long, much-needed (though not anticipated) cry.

It comes to us in the most unexpected of moments. Wrapped Up and Ready in the Sad Song Lyrics of Yesterday’s Memories. Tied to the Fringes of a Bad Day or a Harsh Comment.

It is that cry that seemingly comes out of nowhere and in the oddest of places. When we are driving to the grocery store. In the parking garage after work. In bed at night when our eyes are searching for closure.

It is that long stream of sobs and sorrow that makes us question if it will ever cease. It is that cry that makes us wonder if we are holding all the tears of the world in our eye sockets or if we should call Noah and instruct him to build an ark because our tears are so high in numbers that we might just drown the world.

The Gaping Wallow operates on its own time. It never asks to stop in or phones politely to make its arrival known. No, no. It sweeps into town, knocks on your door and demands your attention.

And this is exactly what happens when the Gaping Wallow arrives: It starts with a single solitary tear, peaking out from behind the eyelids and plummeting down over the hump of your pallid cheek. And when one tear comes, it is as if that tear gives orders to the followers. And they come too. Following their Leader. Forming a Puddle.

At first you thought you were crying over something menial. A messy room. A stubbed toe. A day that you wish the calendar would just erase. But before you know it, you are sobbing. Reaching to Find Breath to Catch.

Long Sobs. Short Sobs. Salty Tears. Tears That Won’t Stop.

Crying over what happened a year ago. What you should have gotten over four months ago. Sobbing over your fears for the future. Dying a little inside over the people who refuse to sit anywhere but in your past.

The tears that the Gaping Wallow brought (like cupcakes to a birthday party) won’t stop coming for a while because you know they have been pent up for too long. It is as if your mind has filed these tears into a database after every sorrow or little thing that did not go your way. And they sit and wait until they can make an appearance. All over your cheeks. In the runs of your mascara. Below your nose.

But we never really can predict when that appearance will be, when the Gaping Wallow will visit.

The Gaping Wallow is as unreliable as the weather. Or perhaps as reliable as the tide.

But there are advantages to him and the tears he brings with the visits he makes.

The Gaping Wallow allows us to believe in the sunrise of a new day, the turn towards a blank page, the calmness in the air that follows after a storm.

You know, full and well, that when the tears stop coming and the Sobs Cease, that you will feel better. Drained, tired, but better. As if the tears have wiped away the built up stress and worries that had begun to collect interest on your shoulders.

It is as if the Gaping Wallow, though showing off as big & robust & demanding, carries with him a quiet voice that is for you. Just You. And he kneels down beside you, as you are curled up in the left-hand corner of your king-sized bed or with knees folded under you in the driver’s seat of the car, and he delivers some reassurance.

Cry now. Cry now. Just be sure to let it all out. Cry for Yesterday. Cry for Tomorrow. Cry for all the things that hurt you good today. All the things that batter you with Confusion, Doubt, Insecurity and Restlessness. And don’t discriminate against your tears. If what you are crying over happened six years ago, I don’t care. If it happened when you were seven, I still don’t care. Just cry. Just push those tears into existence and validate them for once. Your tears are like every human being: we all want validation. Let it all out so that when you are done you will find that there are no more tears to use. And you will be ready to pick up a smile and a brand new day and start all over again. Without me and the tears I brought for the visit.

“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?