The Obligation of Loneliness

The theme of this past weekend was loneliness and isolation. It started off by watching the movie “Lars and the Real Girl” which really touched me. Afterwards, I felt an intense, acute loneliness for the first time in quite a while. Probably since I established a close group of friends through the Traveling Psychic Supper Club. Next was “Only God Forgives” which is an incredibly isolating movie. Then Saturday night I had a huge perspective shift with my closest friend.

It’s like I had separated a large part of myself and invested it in her. A place it didn’t belong. Whenever we fragment ourselves there will undoubtedly be isolation and loneliness. Even if the hands in which it’s resting are incredibly loving. That they were so loving gave me the illusion that I was whole, but that evening I realized I wasn’t. That part of myself became dislodged and exposed the underlying loneliness.

Initially it was very unpleasant, but I think this shift was absolutely necessary. Not only in consolidating my energy in order to obtain wholeness, but also in the ability to continue to grow in that friendship without this clinging energy getting in the way.

Then to cap off the Ryan Gosling theme I watched “Blue Valentine” which is a very sad movie about what else… isolation and loneliness… What a fun filled weekend!

So it appears like the universe was trying to make a point here. It wanted me to really evaluate the depth of my loneliness. It had been quite a while since I had done this, and I have changed SO MUCH recently that there was probably going to be a different understanding now.

So while I was meditating Sunday night I had this belief pop up that goes something like “In order to understand and empathize with those that are isolated and lonely, I have to be isolated and lonely.” Like I need to be able to show them that we’re in the same boat. Sharing the same story. But this is not true. I can be happy and whole and still empathize with those that aren’t. I can feel for more than those who are exactly like me.

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Chapter 6, section 1 “The Message of the Crucifixion”, paragraph 10:

“We are still equal as learners, although we do not need to have equal experiences. By being able to hear the Holy Spirit in others you can learn from their experiences, and gain from them without experiencing them directly yourself. That is because the Holy Spirit is one, and anyone who listens is inevitably lead to demonstrate His way for all.”

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Relating to someone who is suffering at their current level doesn’t help. This doesn’t heal. True healing happens in helping them bridge the gap from their loneliness to their wholeness. To their divine. I will see the divine in you, which gives you the opportunity to see it as well.

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Chapter 3, section 2 “Miracles As True Perception”, paragraph 6
“Truth overcomes all error, and those who live in error and emptiness can never find lasting solace. If you perceive truly you are canceling out misperceptions in yourself and in others simultaneously. Because you see them as they are, you offer them your acceptance of their truth so they can accept it for themselves. This is the healing that the miracle induces.

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It seems like if two people in a relationship (all kinds – not just romantic) are lonely, there is comfort in sharing this loneliness. It’s like “I’m miserable, but at least I have company!” And it can also seem like there is an obligation for each party to remain lonely. That they owe it to the other person to do this. Like if one person became happy, it would be a sign of abandonment. That if they really cared about them they wouldn’t do this.

I asked myself “Is that what’s happening with me?” and got a very interesting response…
Isolation and loneliness have been major themes my entire life. I’ve been unable to establish genuine bonds with others at school, church, sports, social events… And in those rare instances where something was starting to develop, I would somehow distance myself from them or sabotage the relationship.

I think this goes back to childhood. My mother and father had a relatively good relationship, but I think my mother quietly dealt with severe isolation and loneliness. And as a baby, getting approval from your mother is your highest priority. Your life literally depends on it. So if your mother is isolated and lonely, it’s natural that you would mimic her. Establish the same pattern to garner her approval. And then you could never change from this, as this would be an abandonment. A rejection of the person who gave you life.

I think this is one reason why there has been conflict between us as I got older. I wanted to make genuine connections, grow and evolve, be happy, but unconsciously I believed that I had to stay lonely. That she was essentially forcing me to do this. So naturally I resented her for this without really understanding what was happening.

But now I do understand. Now I am in a place where I do have genuine connections. Where I am happy. Where I have people surrounding me who I love. And now I have the opportunity to invite her into this space. To release her from that loneliness.

Ultimately it’s still her decision, and I can’t force her out. But even if she chooses to stay, this no longer affects me. To truly love someone is not to jump in the pit with them, it’s to patiently sit on the outside with an outstretched arm, waiting for them jump up so you can pull them out.

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only this is real

I was at my brother’s wedding this weekend, which was quite the extravaganza. Like, it probably could have been on a TV show about million-dollar weddings or something.

To give you an idea, here’s what the head table looks like (13 bridesmaids and groomsmen + dates)…

head table

This is not an environment that I often find myself in. Too much of everything. I was sitting in my room before we left for the church, and could feel myself getting more and more overwhelmed. I was running through everything that needed to happen, and it was spiraling out of control because of just how massive this wedding was.

I took a step back and told myself “only this is real”, like only this moment, me quietly sitting alone in my hotel room. All of that stuff that was running through my head didn’t exist. It didn’t matter. But my ego didn’t like this very much. And it wasn’t even so much that it wanted to churn through all this wedding stuff, as it just wanted to occupy itself with something. When I said only this is real, it was like “NO! I need to always be improving, contemplating something, trying to understand more and learn something.” It wasn’t happy just existing, because this is essentially the death of the ego. It can only exist in time. In one of its self-made illusions.

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chapter 4, section V “the ego body illusion”, paragraph 6, sentence 4

“By becoming involved with tangential issues, it hopes to hide the real question and keep it out of mind. The ego’s characteristic bussy-ness with nonessentials is for precisely that purpose. Preoccupations with problems set up to be incapable of solution are favorite ego devices for impending learning progress.”

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This significantly helped with the worry surrounding the wedding, but repeating “only this is real” still made me very uncomfortable. And when this happens, I’m like a little kid who found something interesting on the bayou, and keeps poking it with a stick until his curiosity is satisfied.

So tonight I was on a walk, pondering that statement, and I noticed that when I told myself that only this moment was real, this sidewalk… trees… shoes… breeze… it led to a serious feeling of loneliness. That it’s just me. Isolated. This is an emotion that has plagued me since I was a child, but tonight I noticed something for the first time. This loneliness was a creation of the ego. It wasn’t real. It’s a device the ego uses to perpetuate itself. To perpetuate separateness.

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chapter 4, section 6 “the rewards of God” paragraph 4

“The ego and the spirit do not know each other. The separated mind cannot maintain the separation except by dissociating. Having done this, it denies all truly natural impulses, not because the ego is a separate thing, but because you want to believe that you are. The ego is a device for maintaining this belief, but it is still only your decision to use the device that enables it to endure.”

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It’s hard to illustrate how big this is for me. Loneliness is probably one of the most often used weapons of my ego. Something I’ve been trapped within my whole life. Loneliness and isolation are like cornerstones of my identity.

Or… at least they were a year ago. Recently, as I started to develop much closer friendships, this has significantly diminished. It would still pop up pretty frequently, but didn’t have the same grasp on me that it used to. So it’s been gradually weakening, and tonight was a major blow to what was remaining. It’s like the ego is dying a slow death, and is pulling out its biggest most reliable tools, but is finding that they no longer work as well as they used to.

Loneliness isn’t real… how… freeing…

And isn’t is it cool to see how the course keeps facilitating this new understanding? I read both of the passages quoted above a week ago. They struck me as being important at the time, but it’s like a gift that keeps on giving. There’s an initial understanding, but a continual unfoldment after that as you witness the truth in action.