Just the word itself makes me cringe. Lonely speaks of a silent telephone, entering a crowded room and remaining anonymous, of small joys and unshared hopes. It's one thing to have a dream, it's another to share it with a trusted confidant, and feel the edges of it draw nearer by the encouragement and anticipation of a joint hope.
I don't mind being alone - I am an introvert by nature - but I hate loneliness. Everybody has seasons of solitude, times when they see the world differently because they are actually taking time to see, rather than rush through. I believe that we know ourselves better alone than in the light and sparkle of a crowd, so loneliness has its place.
When we move to a new place, enter a new job, end a relationship... loneliness always follows. It's natural, but made no less difficult by that uncomfortable fact, and some of my darkest times have been the lonely ones.
You might be wondering why I'm writing about loneliness. I've written many times about my wonderful friends, near and far, and I recently got engaged to the love of my life. Those who are in a season of real, daily loneliness are rolling their eyes and mentally calling me names for even bringing it up. I get that. And I'm sorry for being a wuss.
I'm writing this becuase loneliness has been on my mind - more becuase I'm trying to figure out why it bothers me so much than anything. This weekend, most of my OC friends and my fiance (still love that word) are going out of town for a retreat, and I can't go. I won't bore you with the details, but basically they've all been on a ministry team for a while that I wasn't chosen to join, and that team is leaving for a weekend away.
Now, it's not the end of the world, it's one weekend. I promise I'm not completely incapable of taking care of myself for 2 1/2 days. But, despite all that, this forced solitude bothers me. I know there will be inside jokes and memories made that I will know nothing about. And I hate the thought of Old Dani, who gained weight becuase there was nothing better to do, and was too insecure to say hello but didn't want to leave after church becuase she needed a friend but was scared to ask. I know I won't become an emotional wreck in a weekend, but I don't even want to see that side of me. I know that I've grown enough to have left the majority of that thought-life behind, but even the remnants are distasteful.
I know there's a good, healthy part to all this. I know that if I choose to embrace rather than wallow, I can write and design and revel in a few free days to let loose the Muse and treasure the solitude. I know that my friends and fiance will love me regardless of whether or not I'm included on everything, and that my worth is not measured by my popularity or my weekend excitement level.
That's the truth.
So come here, Lonely. Put your feet up, stay a while. I know this isn't the last time we'll hang out, so I better learn to enjoy your company and see what good can come of it.