Learning to be alone together.

I recently filled a journal with quotes, scriptures, collages, poems, letters, and writing prompts for someone I really care about. It was a very time consuming, and incredibly rewarding project. When I finished the last page, I literally squealed. It was great.

Anyways, the reason I bring that up is because part of that project meant coming up with various writing prompts. I thought of a lot of them myself, but I also spent a long time researching to find ones that I thought were applicable for her. In the process, I came across many absolutely absurd prompts, and a few powerful ones.

There was one prompt that I saw that stuck with me. I didn’t use it, because it wasn’t appropriate, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The prompt was, “Write about the day you knew you were truly alone in the world.”

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It struck me because I’ve felt alone for much of my life, but I have no idea when that started. It also struck me because I’ve always known that even if I feel alone, I am never entirely alone in this world. I racked my brain for weeks trying to figure out this whole feeling alone/being alone dichotomy.

I suppose part of this can be attributed to that fact that I’ve been a Christian for years and God has been a very significant part of my life. In the Christian faith, we are taught that we are never alone because God is omnipresent. He is everywhere all the time, so of course we’re never alone. I always had confidence that even in my darkest hours, God was there. He was my hope, my refuge, and my strength.

But there has to be more. I’ve experienced countless traumas, rejection, betrayl, depression, complete and total isolation. I’ve physically carved the word alone into my skin. I was absolutely convinced I was alone, and yet, when I look back at my writing through the years, it was clear that although I felt alone, I was never actually alone.

For some, I think that being alone is a distinct reality, and at times, it was for me too. For me though, it was a choice. I was alone by choice. There were people who were there waiting for me to come back to them, but I wanted to believe that I was alone so I pushed them away. I created evidence for me to believe what I wanted to believe. I was alone, and I was unworthy of people’s love and support.

Over the last few years, I’ve been on a journey of finding out that being alone and feeling alone are two completely separate things. I’ve learned that when I feel alone, I need to reach out. I need to remind myself that I am not alone. Even if no one is around to reach out to, I need to go where the people are. I need to sit in a crowded coffee shop to prove to myself that people exist and I am not alone in the world.

I’m doing much better at this, but I still struggle with this a lot. My innate tendency is to isolate. Reaching out requires far more effort, and sometimes I feel like I don’t have it in me…but I do it anyways.

Now, being alone can sometimes be a good thing. As an introvert, I NEED my alone time. If I don’t have it, I feel drained and often I end up getting to the point where I feel alone in a crowded room, which is quite possibly one of the worst feelings in the world. But for me, I know that eventually that alone time needs to end.

I was created for community. I desire it, and I seek it out. I’m learning how to be alone together…and that’s the best type of alone time.

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