Depression,loneliness,authenticity,and vulnerability

Written by Amie on February 19, 2012 – 3:53 pm -

naming the feeling of loneliness

I received an e-mail yesterday from someone asking me about loneliness. She told me she feels lonely even when she is surrounded by people who care about her. I told her I can totally relate to the feeling, and I also told her what a gift it is that she recognizes this part of herself. I remember so many times that I felt this way. It took me a very long time to figure out what was really behind the feeling of loneliness. Honestly, I didn’t know it was loneliness I was feeling. I knew the feeling felt really big inside me, but I wasn’t sure how to name it. At that time in my life, I had the habit of turning these feelings against myself. In other words, I had this big feeling inside me that I bundled all together with all of the “bad” feelings I was having, and called it depression.  I would tell myself there must be something *wrong with me* for feeling bad even when I had people in my life who loved me. How could I be around people who say they care about me and still feel depressed? The answer eluded me for quite awhile. Maybe the real situation was that I didn’t want to acknowledge my truth. If I were to actually name this feeling I was having (loneliness), I believed I would then have to act on it right away.  That isn’t true. The first step is always to acknowledge the feeling, and then allow yourself to feel it. Once you allow yourself to feel your emotions, a part of you will open up to new possibilities, and action will follow if that is what needs to happen.

I was dying inside, I felt so empty

It took me awhile to figure out, or acknowledge that I truly was feeling lonely. It also took me awhile to see the patterns I had set up in my life to support this loneliness. I am not being judgmental here, just stating what is true. Somewhere along the path in my life I learned that I needed to protect my sensitive spirit from people who had the potential to hurt me. When our true selves are not nurtured and supported starting from a young age, we learn other ways to be in the world as a way of protecting ourselves. I thought if I could keep myself from being vulnerable with another person, I was protecting  myself. I only allowed myself to go to a certain level of connection with people, and then I would put up my walls of protection. Nobody could get past those walls. It appeared as though I was sharing myself with others, but I wasn’t. Not by a long shot. I appeared strong and I appeared as though I had it all together. But I didn’t. I was dying inside. I felt so empty.

it has taken me almost 6 years to get to where I am today

With the help of a therapist, I finally came to see how lonely I was really feeling. I found a therapist who (after going through many therapists that I could never open up to) I felt safe with. It took awhile, but she was finally able to help me make a crack in my wall of protection. It was a slow, often painful process. My mind was like a steel trap. It did not want to budge. It has taken me almost 6 years to get to where I am today. That seems like a long time when there are promises out there telling us you can pop a pill to get relief without having to do the work of looking inside yourself. (I am not saying medication should never be taken, I tried that route myself) However, to put things into perspective, I remind myself that it took me much longer than 6 years to get to the breaking point of depression, so I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight. I had to rediscover the authentic person behind the wall of protection, and that takes work.

most people feel lonely because it is not “small talk” they are really wanting and needing

And…back to the issue of loneliness….I can see now that people who have a wall up around them are most likely feeling lonely most of the time. Most people feel lonely because it is not “small talk” they are really wanting and needing. Most of us settle for this because it is the norm. But on a deeper level, we want to feel connected to each other, we want to know what is really alive in the person we are talking with. We want to feel authenticity with each other. It is so sad that most people have been trained to ignore the real stuff, and go straight to the small talk. My first real connection with someone was my therapist. I know that may sound weird, but I don’t care! lol She was coming from a conscious healthy place, and I felt it.  I felt her authenticity, and I wanted more. From there I met a wonderful friend (at a book store!) who is so authentic with me. At first, it was scary because I didn’t trust that she could be real. I didn’t trust that she wouldn’t hurt me. But I hung in there, and I now call her my soul sister. I am also a part of a women’s spiritual growth group with like minded conscious women who are also seeking authenticity and truth. Another person who I relate to on a soul level is a friend I met years ago at a health food store! She is someone that I know connects with me at a very deep and authentic level.

the more I love myself, the more I bring people into my life that will mirror that love back to me

I feel so grateful for all of the people in my life right now who are real with me. I notice that the more I love myself, the more I bring people into my life that will mirror that love back to me. My kids have done this for me since the day they were born. Talk about authentic! To this day, they call me out on my old patterns. So, I guess what I am trying to say here is that if you are feeling depressed, ask yourself if you are lonely. Be as honest as you can be with yourself. Just admitting it but not putting pressure on yourself to do anything about it will help. Just allow yourself to feel the truth of what is there in your body. I would say to myself, “I am feeling really lonely right now”. Then I would tune in to what my body was feeling in that moment. Tightness in my stomach, almost always. Just stay with the feelings in your body. You don’t have to solve anything….just feel…..

 it’s time to fall in love..with yourself

The more you allow yourself to feel what is true for you, the more you will begin to crack open your wall of protection. What I am also saying here is that if you don’t have at least one person in your life you can be 100% real with, it is time to find one. Finding one will lead to finding another. I promise you there are people out there wanting the same thing you do. Authenticity. Vulnerability is a part of the process. People who are willing to be vulnerable, willing to show their human side, will attract others who want the same thing. People are lonely because they are guarded. We shut down our truth; our human side. The act of pretending to be happy, the act of going through the motions of being human, doesn’t cut it for very long. Many people are okay with living their lives like this. I am not one of those people anymore. If I would have continued down the pretending path for much longer, I most likely wouldn’t be here today. That is the truth. I need to be real, I need to be who I was born to be, I need people in my life who are willing to be real with me. I refuse to pretend. One more thing….actually a very important point…..once you start truly loving yourself unconditionally, you won’t feel lonely anymore. When you love yourself, you will stop looking for someone else to make you feel any certain way. Nobody can ever make you feel unconditional love for yourself. You need your love in order to be happy. You can start loving yourself right this minute by asking yourself what you honestly need right now. Being honest about it will start your path to self-love. We all crave authenticity and love and deep connection….so you really can’t truly feel these things unless you are madly in love with yourself!!! So, maybe it’s time to fall in love..with yourself! xo

And in the spirit of love….I have to put this song in here yet again…I just love it so much! 🙂

 

 

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Posted in Connection, Depression, Healing & personal growth, healing from depression, Nurture yourself, Self-love | 5 Comments »

5 Comments to “Depression,loneliness,authenticity,and vulnerability”

  1. lonely Says:

    Thank you. You described the way I feel. The wall of protection, needing to protect my sensitive spirit from people who have the potential to hurt me, appearing strong, but so so alone inside. I am glad you are finding strength and peace. Thank you for sharing your experience with others. It gives me hope.

  2. Mr.B Says:

    I came across your blog/page via web search on how I’ve been feeling soo empty and lonely especially after a break up. Being a man, it’s difficult to open up..and I mean just to any one. The woman I was dating though not a long period of time gave me authenticity and I as well reciprocated. It just felt amazing, but ever since then I feel apart of me has gone. I know it’s part of break up but I was content with myself and fine being alone..it just so happened her an I crossed paths. Most if not everything you wrote in your post, I felt a connection to.
    Thank you for sharing your vulnerable side, your true experience. I will try to learn and accept the love I have around and look into therapy as well..

  3. Amie Says:

    Thank you for writing and also sharing your vulnerable side. I truly understand how hard it is to open up to people. I can’t speak for being a man, but I do see how difficult our world makes it for men to show their vulnerable side. I promise you there are other men feeling the same way, and there are groups available for this type of work, maybe you could find one near you? I’m sorry to hear about your break up, not an easy experience. It does sound as though your relationship was a wonderful experience though. The one thing that popped into my head when I read your words is that now you have experience of what a truly authentic relationship feels like. What a gift!It might not feel like a gift yet, but at some point I think it will. Now you have a point of reference to go to within yourself. So you most likely won’t settle for anything less. If you love yourself, you will attract more authentic and loving people into your life. 🙂 Keep me posted.

  4. Mr. B Says:

    Amie, you’re most welcome and I really appreciate your response. It’s been a challenging journey but I know it will get better. Your story/experience helps.
    I’ll gradually look into seeking a group or just someone to talk to and work through anything that could block me.
    I really got excited in a way that you were able to pick up my experience from the relationship. I did have an amazing experience and it sure has given me great insight of what a authentic relationship should be with a few adjustments of course. As you said I definitely will not settle for anything less now. I agree with you, loving myself will attract authentic and loving people into my life. I lost a lot of my love and feelings but am working on getting it back.
    Love is a beautiful thing.
    Thank you once again 🙂 and I’ll keep you posted!

    Best wishes, Vik

  5. Amie Says:

    Hi Vik,
    I’m so happy to know you are working on getting your love and feelings back. Yes, love sure is a beautiful thing! Just remember the love for yourself is there within you, and has been all along. Sometimes it just gets buried, but it always waits patiently for us to come back. I look forward to hearing about your journey. 🙂

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