“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta
I think I’ve always felt this sense of loneliness. I felt invisible or worse, I stuck out like a sore thumb… I never felt like I belonged. It’s a tough thing to feel so lonely… I never found a place or people that I truly connected to. I’ve come close. I’ve come across people in my life that have made me feel understood… not alone. I’ve come across people who have played a huge part in saving my life and at times keep me company in my loneliness. This is the toughest hurdle in transforming my life. The urge to isolate, the fear of connecting with others is the story I most desire to change. You can’t change a story without telling what it is and here is mine (part of it anyway…).
As a kid I loved the TV show The Incredible Hulk. A lonely guy, David Banner, wandered from town to town and he’d meet people he felt close to. Then something would happen and David would explode. People he cared for would see the real him and in his shame he would leave town. The end credits was the saddest part for me. The closing scene during the end credits would show him hitchhiking and walking down the dirt side of the road. A song played that made me empathize with him. It was the loneliest song I ever heard and it made me sad because I knew that feeling of loneliness. I once had a phone that played that song as the ringtone. When my phone rang it made me feel so lonely! I couldn’t see, someone was calling, someone who cared! But the feeling of loneliness caused me to isolate and even when I wanted, I couldn’t pick up the phone. I just seemed to always connect to the loneliness.
Somehow, in my mind, I began to equate the loneliness with the thought that I was unloved and unlovable. I was shy and introverted and the thought of being unlovable fueled my isolation. In fact I became so good at isolating I could do it in a crowd!
Like I said, this is just part of the story. I assure you I have known a depth of loneliness that caused my pain and suffering. I was convinced I was unlovable and I surrendered to the idea that I would always be alone. This is the oldest most damaging part of my story and I’m telling a new story. I am not alone when I allow myself to be known.
The key to ending loneliness is to allow yourself to be seen. To be vulnerable… For me, sometimes the most vulnerable step to ending loneliness is saying “hello, my name is Albert.” Over the years I’ve learned to connect with people by being willing to be vulnerable. I learned to be interested. I’ve made myself known as someone who is a good listener, kind, compassionate… lovable. I’ve learned to be lovable by learning to love others.
To most of you this blog topic may seem a bit elementary. Ask yourself, when you feel lonely are you quick to say hello? Do you offer an ear or a shoulder… do you allow yourself to be seen?