My New Year's Resolution... to Fight Loneliness
A great deal occurred in my life over Christmas and New Year's... and it was bumpy! I have had to work to regain my equilibrium.
Nevertheless, I am returning to the track. Some of this is about routine... exercising, attending my writer's group (see you all on Saturday, the 13th!), working, socializing with other friends. When life throws you a curveball, I find that a schedule helps immensely, especially on days off work. It is stabilizing. Reaching out helps, too. Friends have been there for me with messages of strength, encouraging and funny images from Pinterest, advice, an ear to listen.
Most of my crises, at least in the past, were of my own making. But this crisis, if one could call it that, came out of the blue, out of a perfectly normal day, and came from the outside. I wasn't seeking it out. It made me face some of my deepest fears: Fear of loneliness and growing old alone. No wonder, I cried and asked God, "Why?"
Loneliness is a big issue within mental health circles and it is a big issue in the modern world itself. We are a lonely society. We spent the whole first session of the NAMI support group I co-lead on loneliness and how to combat it. Social media fragments us: We become a group of "friends" that interacts through likes and loves, rather than liking and loving. Too often, online interaction substitutes for in-person interaction. We text rather than pick up the phone and call because texting makes hard conversations less challenging. It is an easy default. But there is nothing like someone else's voice, someone else's presence.
One of my New Year's resolutions is to combat loneliness. This doesn't mean finding Mr. Right, but it does mean expanding my circle of friends, socializing more frequently, and continuing to date in a healthy way: All the ingredients of an active and quality social life. Two opportunities immediately came my way this week: A singles Bible study and a photo workshop where participants share their work. In previous moods, I might have said, "No, it's too cold out there!" Or, I might have been more honest and said, "I just don't feel like putting myself out there right now."
But, true to my New Year's resolution, I responded and put the opportunities on my calendar: I will be there, ready to participate and have a good time.
Some of this is recognizing what socializing is not: It is not impulsively reaching out, out of pain and need and fear. I can socialize from a place of self-respect and self-control. I will maintain course, attending my writer's group, going to church, exercising, leading my NAMI group, and getting together with trusted and close friends. I will depend on my parents for advice and support, continue to attend therapy and take all medications as prescribed.
And I recognize that my own self-esteem slipped a bit this past week and needs to be repaired. Friends reminded me of facts: I am a good-looking and intelligent woman, funny and conversant. So, yes, I have a major illness. Lots of people deal with health issues. I do well overall, and I am doing better all the time. I have suffered a great deal, but I realize I have learned from this suffering and developed a spirit of compassion and strength as a result. I have a lot to bring to the table: What these past months have shown me is that I am capable of a healthy, giving relationship.
I made great strides in 2017. In response to the past week, I put together a pros/cons list for what I am looking for in a partner. It really allowed me to nail down what I am looking for as well as what I consider deal-breakers. Now I have a "road map," if you will, to bring into therapy and discuss as well as to guide me in future interactions. And I have to remember... my goal is to meet new people. Life is not about finding romantic love, as great as that would be, but rather about giving back and serving others. One must keep one's priorities straight.
So here goes! Here we are in a New Year! I can't wait to see what it brings....