Two years ago I was sitting in my truck, sobbing with intense feelings of betrayal. I felt so confused and lonely. Compounding my isolation, I didn’t know how to express my feelings safely with my person. I felt unloved and unlovable. These feelings led me to say and do things that I now regret but were a portal of insight that ended a relationship that wasn’t healthy for either of us.

A year later, with my marriage all but over, I went to Rythmia in Costa Rica with hopes of connecting with people going through similar portals. All of my fellow attendees were becoming fast friends with their roommates, while the bed opposite mine remained empty. As it turns out, my roommate-to-be had canceled his trip last minute, and I had the distinction of being the only solo occupant of a double room on the whole property. This surprise solitude was a portal that cracked me open and allowed in greater self-love and social bravery.

Though I have found love since, today I am faced yet again with a portal of loneliness, which feels so deep and challenging. I miss my most recent partner so much, and so desperately want to fill this hole in my heart instead of facing my fear. I also have been setting firmer boundaries with my other relationships, which is triggering because I fear losing them as well. Yet I recognize this moment as another portal to embrace, full of wisdom ready to come ashore.

Upon reflection, I’ve never really allowed myself to experience loneliness. As an adult, I’ve moved quickly from one partner to the next without taking a significant break in between. The whole time I was running from my fear of being alone.

This fear has caused me to commit to and stay in romantic and business relationships that were not healthy for me. It caused me to unconsciously sacrifice my own needs, be dishonest, and refrain from authentic self-expression, all for fear of rejection and abandonment. On some level, I have gone through life subservient to the world out of my fear of being alone.

I experience this feeling of loneliness as a grasping towards the external. In my attempts to escape my fear, I find myself reaching for things that will either fill the hole in my heart or distract me, like working too hard, taking on endless projects, or getting into relationships too quickly.

As I’ve slowly let go of the attachments in my life, I realize that I’ve presciently created myself a perfect storm of loneliness in the present moment.

As I’ve meditated on loneliness, and experienced the ensuing waves of sadness, I have uncovered parts of myself that I feel judgemental of. Yesterday I sat with a barely intelligible piece that fears my success depends on my connection with others. A part of me that puts everyone in my life on a pedestal. I want nothing more than to cast it away as weak, but I realize that this part of me simply needs my love and understanding. So I have been focusing on this, journaling and listening.

One insight that has come from this place is that connecting with my needs and listening to the wisdom of my heart will dissolve this fear of loneliness. Because in the times that I listen to my guides and I connect with my heart, I don’t feel alone.

As is true about all fear, as I’ve spent time sitting with it, without trying to escape it or distract myself, the fear isn’t as scary as I imagined. In fact, just as I experienced at Rythmia, my self-care has leveled up and I’ve gotten back in touch with what I need in my life to feel fully embodied. As someone who unconsciously sacrifices himself in relationships, this is an important experience that I needed to witness.

I know most of us fear being alone, and as social animals, it is ok to desire connections with others. My painful experiences of the past have not turned me away from the desire to experience ever deeper love and evolution through my relationships.

And above all, I love myself for feeling this way, and for being brave enough to do it differently this time. For temporarily sacrificing monetary wealth and gifting myself this undistracted time to really explore my feelings and to heal.

I also expect that more emotional tides will come carrying ships of insights ashore. This is ok, I will let them come. I consider this moment a blessing of insight and surrender.

I have gifted myself the opportunity to deepen my relationship with myself.

About the painting: I channeled how I experience loneliness, as grasping from within to without. Loneliness to me feels dark, cold, and empty, separated from me yet crushing me at the same time. It is my first ever painting.

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