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Surrendering to Shame: Part II in a Series on Loneliness

Surrendering to Shame: Part II in a Series on Loneliness

I clicked on “send” before my brain could stop me.  “Shit.”  I sighed and closed my laptop.  It was out there now.  I had confessed a deep dark feeling and there was nothing I could do now but wait. I had sent my longtime editor, coach, business partner, mentor, neighbor, hero, and dearest friend, Susan, the draft of my blog, Telling the Truth, to read and review. I hadn’t told anyone in my life I was feeling lonely as of late and admitting it in writing had left me reeling.

Per usual, Susan’s encouragement came in like clockwork.  She answered my questions about the blog topic, offered comments on the scope, and suggested one edit for clarification purposes.  Then she wrote this: “And on a personal note…I wondered.” My face immediately heated red and I recoiled in regret for having written the dumb blog in the first place. 

It must be obvious.  Is it obvious? I must appear pathetic.  Am I pathetic? Am I a lonely old lady with only cats and crafts to keep me company?  I am a loser.  Am I a loser?  This is so embarrassing.  And down the shame spiral I went like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Suddenly everything small felt big and everything big, small.  My feelings were magnified out of proportion and my perspective shrank into miniature.

Of course she wondered!   In the 23 years she has known me, 12 of those years I was coupled and 11 of those I have been single.  We lost our husbands in the same month – hers to cancer, mine to a divorce decree. She watches me living what she calls my “big life” every day. She knows up close and personal my fierce independence AND my tender-hearted need for deep connection with people. So why was I so shamed by this statement?

Why was I spinning out in shame? Why does being lonely feel embarrassing or weak? Why don’t we talk about loneliness?  I am a million percent positive that every person who reads this has experienced loneliness and yet in our “good vibes only” society we are reluctant to reveal when we feel these normal feelings. It has become taboo to grieve, regret, feel sadness, or experience jealousy.   Yet we all do. 

I was called brave for giving voice to a feeling – a normal, not uncommon feeling.  I even felt like I was jumping off the high dive when this admission was pushed out publicly. A co-worker of mine said because she had read my blog, she had been given enough courage to talk to her family for the first time ever about her loneliness.  For this I am grateful, but I remain sad that the conversation isn’t more commonplace.

Next week I will write about what I think gets in the way for people.  Thank you for reading, commenting, and sending me messages – it encourages, inspires, and reminds me that I may sometimes be lonely, but I am not alone.

Angela Dunne