"Do you see this pit of despair in my stomach leaving me?"
"Will I ever be blessed with a family?"
"Why can't I find someone?"
"Why did he leave me?"
"Will I always be alone?"
In my office and over the phone, people of all ages and backgrounds have poured out their innermost fears to me, and so often it comes down to that core question: "Will I be alone?"
I've seen women stay in horrible marriages to avoid being alone and conversely I've seen people run from relationships, instead choosing to live like martyred hermits rather than risk their fragile hearts getting broken again.
I don't have all the answers; I hardly have any answers. What I do have is faith in something much greater than us that, if we just believe, will never leave us, will always sustain us and will strengthen us all the days of our life. I also know that the best antidote to loneliness is self-contentment.
I should have grown up a very lonely child. Whenever my dad was offered a better job, we'd up and move. Between the ages of 5 and 11, I switched schools every other year. This made me a bit shy and hesitant to meet new people.
I say I should have been a lonely child but I wasn't. I had myself and because of that often difficult childhood, I had to learn to entertain myself. Wherever we lived, my dad chose a house bordered by woods and either a creek or a pond. I would spend hours getting lost in these woods and playing in the creek. I'd take handfuls of aquarium stones and my mom's cake pans to the banks of the water. Pouring the stones into the water, I'd pretend to pan for gold. Sometimes, I'd pick pounds of moss and leave it at the base of a tree where I "knew" fairies lived. I figured they could spin the moss into blankets to keep themselves warm throughout the winter. I wrote stories for my stuffed animals and illustrated them, stringing them into little booklets. On cold or rainy days, I'd make a blanket tent in my bedroom, grab a flashlight and pretend I was camping in the woods.
I'm grateful for these experiences because they've taught me to always enjoy my own company. That's a gift I've learned some people don't share. But it's a learned gift. All you have to do is discover what makes you happy and do it, even if you're not good at it. I have a client who taught herself to knit and was horrible at it for a very long time. Now, just a few years later, her intricate work is being sold on Etsy. There's a gentleman in Boston who loved to paint fun, uplifting pictures, but no one would buy them. So he started leaving them all throughout Boston -- in subways, bus depots, office lobbies, park benches -- with a simple message: "If this picture made you smile, take it and pass it on." Now he's got a website, a ton of sales and supposedly a book of his work in the making. I know a woman who loves to play the piano. Every Saturday morning, she drives to a local nursing home and plays for the residents. My good friend had a hard time meditating, so she starting stringing beads as a way of counting her mantras and prayers. Now she's a well known jewelry artist.
Find your passion, discover your true heart and find solace in the fact that wherever you go, there you are. There is no escaping yourself; so you'd better fall in love with you! It's better than the alternative I see so often in my office: staying in bad relationships, hopping from one relationship to the next or worse, closing yourself off from the possibility of love. You are a child of light. You are loved and good and whole just as you are. Just because a few bad people and a couple of nasty experiences have darkened that light doesn't mean you can't dust yourself off and shine more brightly than ever before. Make a commitment to yourself this year -- to fall in love with you, to spend time with you, to embark on a journey of you. And pray. Ask for guidance and help and you will find it.
"Not long ago a very wise man told me that souls who do not practice prayer are like people whose limbs are paralyzed. Even though they have hands and feet, they cannot command them. And so there are souls so caught up in worldly matters that there is little hope for their recovery; they seem to be incapable of entering within themselves. The entry door to this interior castle is prayer and meditation."
-- The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila