Valentine’s Day is almost here…I wonder what it’s going to be like for me. The month of February inspires different emotions in a lot of people. While some (particularly the female population) look forward to it with a sense of excitement and stars in their eyes, others wait for it in dread. Whichever category one falls into, it can also be a month when the loneliness which had been hovering in the background suddenly begins to choke.
I have been home for five months and though I am more fulfilled than I have ever been in my life, there had been a niggling at the edges of my consciousness; one I could not quite put a finger on. It was not until a couple of weeks ago that I finally realised that that niggling had a name – loneliness. There are so many lonely people out there. While a number are lonely because of physical isolation, that is, they live and reside in areas where there are not many people, the majority actually do live surrounded by a crowd; friends, family and neighbours but they are still lonely. The amazing thing is even in a relationship it is possible to be lonely. Still, there is a distinction between being lonely and being alone.
Being alone, away from people can be a good place; a place where there is solitariness and one has only oneself for companionship. It is also a place of discovery, where you get to unearth and learn new things about yourself. I love my company. I am not really lonely when I am by myself. Besides, I think it is easier to have that communion with God where you almost literally feel Him when you are alone, by yourself.
The thing is man was not made to be by himself all the time. I am talking of ‘man’ in the generic sense which includes the female. So when there is an emotional disconnect with people, loneliness sets in. It would therefore be apt to say that loneliness is an emotional state where there is a deep feeling of emptiness as a result of emotional disconnection from people around. For a person who has always been lonely, the ache gradually begins to numb. That is a dangerous place to be. I believe it is this ‘numbness’ that eventually drives a lot of people over the edge.
But there are those who were not always lonely, who have known what it is like to have that unique emotional connection with another person or even several people. With such people, loneliness brings with it a sort of restlessness, a yearning deep inside for something more. That yearning or restlessness is what drives us to do something about the loneliness; to seek ways to reconnect with those around us. The problem there though, might be that some have retreated so far inside they do not know how to come out anymore. But it is one step at a time.
There are many things which can cause loneliness, depending on the individual. Sometimes it may be a great tragedy, and then the person starts feeling as though no one could possible understand what he or she is going through at that time. This can cause a gradual receding from others on an emotional level. Deep hurt and betrayal can also cause a feeling of loneliness. Sometimes, just being alone can cause loneliness. Also, being emotionally distant from God, not praying often or even reading the Bible – not having a relationship with Him could cause the feeling of loneliness. For me, it was being miles away from the person I had gotten used to sharing my heart with. Whatever the cause, there is only one solution; REACH OUT!
That is easier said than done, I know however there are ways of reaching out to people around. Here are some practical steps; they will not stop you from being lonely. However, they will ease the pain of loneliness and start you on the road to not being lonely.
Acknowledge that loneliness is a feeling. And feelings come and go, so loneliness can be a temporary state if you so desire.
Smile. Yes, smile! It is amazing how less alone you feel when someone smiles at you with genuine warmth and sincerity. But you do need to sow before you can reap.
Try to talk to someone NEW. Now, that is not easy-going up to a total stranger and saying ‘hi’. But what is the worst they can do? Probably just walk away without saying anything in reply. But most people are not that rude.
Join a Church group or a Society. Preferably a small society where you get to meet new people and make new friends. If you are already a member of a Church, why don’t you try joining a group in the Church or if it’s one that has House Fellowships, attend one.
Don’t depend on people to take away the loneliness. I am not contradicting myself. If you go around expecting your sense of fulfilment and contentment to come from those around you then you are bound to be sorely disappointed. The best of men is a man at the very best and is therefore fallible. Learn to find contentment in God and yourself.
Don’t dam it in. I mean this in two ways. First of all, to fully appreciate and bask in the peace and contentment God has given you, you need to spread it around; do something positive for someone else. Secondly, when something bothers you, talk to someone. People find it easier to respond to a person who is not perfect. However, make sure you are also there for these people when they want to talk and in fact, encourage them to talk to you.
Count your blessings! You will find out that life is much better than you thought it was.
Pray. Spending quality time in communion with the Most High really helps. The knowledge that there is someone who always listens no matter what is a balm to the soul.
Seek counselling. Many people shy away from this option, especially in Nigeria where I live. But there is nothing wrong with seeking a counsellor, sometimes talking with them gives you perspective.
I don’t doubt that there are several more options but I will stop here. This is the longest post I’ve done in a while and I started out writing about Valentines Day. It is a lonelier period for many. When you see the stars in your girl friends eyes, or you hear your guys carping about how they are going to file for bankruptcy on the 15th of February, it can get lonely especially when you have no one to share it with. I don’t know how it’s going to be for me this year, my sweetheart is far away. Maybe I’ll get the Valentine Blues and listen to Smokie or Aaron Neville and feel sorry for myself. Fortunately for me, I live on a Missions Base and they are not into all that – not spiritual enough I guess. Whatever, I’ll sit with a good old fashioned pen and fill my good old fashioned journal with my blessings and maybe I’ll share them with you.