Sunday, November 19, 2006

Loneliness is a Choice

In my new book, Drunk with Wonder, I talk extensively about choice. The truth is that we have an opportunity to make new choices in every moment we remember to focus on our breath, become present to the magnificent Divinity we all embody, and let go of stories and limiting beliefs that no longer serve us.

I know firsthand about the awesome power of choice, having lived much of my life under a dark cloud of fear-based stories and beliefs about myself that I had taken on when I was very young. The belief that I'm looking at today, one that truly no longer serves me (if, indeed, it ever did) is that when I'm not in the company of others I am "lonely." Lonely literally means, "affected with or causing a feeling of being alone, destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship." I was inculcated with this definition as a small boy. Though I came from a fairly large family, including four younger brothers, I learned to measure what little self-worth I could engender by whether I had any friends, especially a "best" friend. My story said that if I was not with my best friend (assuming I had one) I was lonely, and lonely meant suffering. Suffering this way felt like an agonizing ache of longing.

50 years later, I still remember Gary Headberg, my best friend from the 1st through 3rd grades. I treasured that friendship, and it broke my heart when we moved away to the suburbs when I was nine. I took a while to find another best friend, and until I did I often felt miserable. Steve Randles, the friend I eventually made, remains one of my dearest friends to this day. One of the gifts Steve and my other friends have given me is to deeply value unconditional friendship. My friends are deeply important to me. And my very bestest friend in the whole world turns out to be my beloved JoAnn, who I am profoundly Blessed to have as my lover and wife as well as my dearest friend.

How does all this relate to feeling lonely? Well, JoAnn has been in San Diego helping her mother Lucy deal with some lingering health issues. After being gone almost a week in late October on the same mission, JoAnn found it necessary to return a week ago. During her first absence, I got triggered into my old story that made being alone mean that I needed to suffer. Suffer I did, big time. It was not pleasant, to say the least. I chose to isolate, then feel sorry for myself (poor me!) and our time apart felt endless and boring. I was so grateful when we reunited!

It seemed as though we had barely gotten back together when JoAnn realized that she needed to return and help her mother some more. My initial reaction was, as you might imagine, something like "oh no!" This time, though, I made a conscious choice to be present with my feelings. I remembered that I could choose what I made JoAnn's absence mean. I could choose to create more suffering for myself, but I had just done that, and it wasn't much fun. I decided to choose love, to remember that I am enough even when I'm alone, and that suffering is a choice. Yes, of course I miss my sweetie. But I've had, and continue to have, an amazing, full, high-spirited week. I created this amazing week with my choice not to turn the "isness" of being alone into my old story of suffering from loneliness. Suffering is a choice. It's optional! I urge you to choose love instead. You'll be glad you did.

No comments: