In supervision today, I was telling my supervisee about how people who are hurting sometimes isolate themselves. A man described it to me last week as standing outside looking in the window of a house where a party is going on.
People have described it to me in this way before. It’s usually raining outside to boot. Standing there alone, they feel the devastation of the loneliness down to their bones.
They feel safe alone
But in the other breath, they don’t want to go in. They feel “safe” here. (It is curious to describe suffering as safe.) But it’s known suffering, rather than unknown joy. They worry the joy would be worse, (which by definition is impossible). They ask me, What if healing is worse than this?
And, they tell me, it’s safer outside because if I go in I could be hurt or worse, people will see how bad/ugly/dumb/uncool/weak/awful I am.
(What makes it ridiculous is because the people who feel “bad/ugly/dumb/uncool/weak/awful” are always the loveliest people you could ever meet.)
To make matters worse, people who have lived through the chaos of trauma or loss, have problems with self blame. They feel like they don’t deserve joy. They deserve to be alone and they don’t deserve to come to the party. As I said last Wed on Anxiety Schmanxiety,
You are not safer out there. You are suffering. And, you belong just like everyone else. You are not alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Come in.
You are not alone!
We stay out of the party by choice (yes, I have done this myself, too, and sometimes it doesn’t feel like “choice”) and then we feel dreadfully alone.
Fortunately, there are even lovely signs that you are not alone, outside the party that will hopefully warm you up enough-make you feel good enough-to come on in!
Did you ever have a friend call you just when you needed them to? Or someone holds the door open and smile, when you felt alone in the world? Or have a dog who knew you needed a cuddle, just at that moment?
Here are some examples:
- My son was climbing mountains this summer and felt alone without his family (awww). He came upon a view of a mountain lake sparkling in the sunshine and said it felt like God was winking at him.
- When Nikky44 visited me this summer, she was sent with the job of buying some angel cards and since it was the first night, hadn’t gotten around to telling me. Andrea- my Facebook cohort and dear friend-came over to see her and brought her a present. You guessed it- angel cards.
- A man feeling very low found a ten year old letter from someone reminding him how great he was.
- My friend sees a morning dove when she needs a hug from her mother who passed away last Christmas.
- A man puts together an altar of gifts his three kids gave him and meditates on them after he has dropped them all off at college.
Another one of my favorite stories is….
Late at night June 15th, or more accurately early morning June 16th, my mother was having trouble sleeping. Deeply missing her father she tossed and turned until finally she got out of bed in the wee hours of the morning and took a puzzle from a large pile she had bought at the library sales over the years. As per usual she avoided the box cover to give herself that extra challenge, and began to put the puzzle together.
As the sun rose on father’s day the image took shape as the last puzzle pieces found their home. She was stunned to see “Anthony” on the name of the horse.
Read more about my grandfather. (This eulogy was just picked to be part of an anthology! Yay!)
Sometimes these lovely signs are subtle and sometimes they are right in our face, but they are happening all the time. Take a breath and let them in.
Over to you. Tell me your stories that let you know you are welcome.