This is not for the one who is wishing for a boy or a card or a cutesy profile picture holding hands. This is not for the one who sees this day and thinks…well not this year. I mean…read on, that’s fine, but understand that when I say ‘alone’ I do not mean just single.
I’ve been single on Valentine’s day. It’s not the best, but it is not the kind of lonely that I mean.
I’m talking about driving in your car through a neighborhood you don’t live in and absolutely falling open. About screaming at God so loudly that you hear the echo bounce around the seats. I’m talking about crying raggedly at three in the morning because no one asked. Again. And all the faces are laughing and happy, and you play along. And maybe all of you are faking it, but you definitely aren’t talking about it. You’re sitting there, acting like you believe that an attitude adjustment will heal the deep seeded blackness that sneaks up behind you and consumes you. You’re hunting wolves with a pocket knife. And you are being devoured. This is for you.
You are lonely. And the fact that it’s Valentine’s day is sort of inconsequential, because this is an everyday thing. It’s worse today, because everyone is talking about loneliness. Talking about all the things that can be awesome about singleness. You don’t feel awesome. You feel like emotionally disabled and like you can’t piece together a single thing that is worth the effort. Like your life has a negative value. People might tell you it’s not true. And maybe they even give you a card or something, and you’re thinking…I’m past the point where a kind word does much. And you’re looking for someone who will sit there and listen to you, and you come up with no unburned bridge.
Maybe it’s even your fault. Maybe you’ve said the wrong thing or ruined the party one too many times. Maybe you’ve been distant for so long that the people you love have stopped trying. Maybe you’ve pretended for so long that you don’t remember how to let the hurt show.
But you’re lonely. Even when you’re with people, you’re saying you’re fine. Even when they ask, you divert and hope they forget. Because sometimes you open your heart and you get hurt. Sometimes the people who, by every right of nature should love you, have left you wary of letting the hurt show. Because you’d rather hide it than have someone blatantly ignore it or say the wrong thing.
This is for you, sitting there wishing they would ask again. Wishing they would earn the right to hear about it. Wishing they would listen and say absolutely nothing except “you’re beautiful and it matters to me that you’re here. These are the reasons I love you”. Not try to fix it or try to fix you…but just to see you the way you are and whisper to you that you aren’t failing.
Because the sadness feels like failing and it all spirals out of control.
This is for you wondering if you will ever be able to feel happiness again. For you studying neural plasticity and wondering if that pathway has shriveled up from atrophy yet. This is yours.
It’s not advice. It’s not a cure. It’s not a Bible verse. It’s not a counseling appointment. It’s not anything substantial, really:
But I’m telling you you’re not alone. You’re not broken. You’re not defective. Listen to me: even if your brain never lets you out of this vice grip, you are still a whole person. You still matter. Your hurt matters. There’s no overage charge on friendship.
That is all I can give you. I can’t tell you that your hair is gorgeous or your clothes are cute or I love your laugh or you make my day better. Because I don’t know you, as you read this. But I do know you’re probably too far gone to believe that with no context. Compliments come too easily, sometimes. You don’t trust people. But you aren’t the only one, and I can give you that. That and an ironclad promise that I will listen. That I will not resent your sadness or hand you a quick fix or anything like that. Because there is, of course, a reason that I know you are not alone.
But this is not about me. This is about you. This is about you finding space to go feel whatever it is you need to feel. This is about you doing whatever it is that you need to brace yourself for a lot more life to come your way.
Because there’s a lot more. A lot of good and a lot of hard.
“God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.”