Bridging the Divided

Alone Or Lonely…..?

“There’s a tremendous difference between alone and lonely. You could be lonely in a group of people. I like being alone. I like eating by myself. I go home at night and just watch a movie or hang out with my dog. I have to exert myself and really say, oh God, I’ve got to see my friends ’cause I’m too content being by myself.” Drew Barrymore

Working from home during the COVID pandemic has taught me that I could live alone on a deserted island, as long as I had my dogs, my husband, my kids, and my mom, but I guess it wouldn’t be a deserted island then, would it? Some people crave social interaction outside of the family, some don’t. I’m one of the ‘don’t’ people. Neither group is right or wrong, it’s a matter of personal preference. 

Social interaction tires me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. My cup fills up pretty quickly, which is not to say that I don’t enjoy family and friends because I do, but the circle is rather small. It used to bother me that I did not need a lot of social interaction, I wondered what was wrong with me, but I am now at peace with my lack of need. On my deserted island I would need a private space on the beach to go hang out from time to time, just me and my dogs. The ocean stills my mind, and fills my spirit. 

There is a difference between alone and lonely. One can be lonely in a room or world full of people. People who feel lonely in a crowd of people are often the same people who feel empty on the inside and choose to fill the emptiness with outside distractions. Lonely people don’t understand their feelings and choose to ignore rather than deal with them. 

Lonely people are unhappy with themselves and their situation. I used to be lonely; lonely in a marriage, in the church, at work, and in the world. I felt empty like I didn’t matter. I believed I didn’t have the right to ask for what I needed, believed that my needs were secondary to everyone else’s. But those beliefs were lies. Who we choose to be and the situations we are in can change. Everyone has the right to ask for what they need, everyone matters. In effect, we chose to accept the lies that we are not worthy, that somehow we are less than everyone else, that we don’t matter except for what we can provide to others. 

Being alone is a state we are in for a time, loneliness is our emotional response to being alone. We can be content to be alone, content with who we are, or we can be lonely, crying on the inside, fearful of emotional abandonment. Like Drew Barrymore, I am content to be alone, content to hang out with my dogs, write, take a walk, or read a book.  I am no longer lonely because I am content with who I am…..

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