Battling Loneliness- The Fight for Intimacy Part I

30 11 2010

How do you fight loneliness? My best friend and I were talking about it the other day. People don’t realize how much time you spend alone; especially if you’re single and/or live by yourself.

 

The above question came from a good friend of mine and in the spirit of the site, AskMerce, I’ll take a crack at it.

Erik Erikson was right when he mapped out the stages of human development.  He labeled the twenties and early thirties as the time where people struggle the most finding love, oscillating between intimacy and isolation.  The successful completion of this stage is built upon the previous stage of identity formation and successfully finding a strong enough sense of self such that you are able to be in a relationship and still be an individual.

Emotional pain and anxiety triggered by feeling isolated and lonely are common to people during this time.  I know personally that I have spent most of my young adult life attempting to avoid or solve the problem of feeling lonely without ever really addressing the feeling head on.  Oftentimes I feel trapped and scared, stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Do I put myself out there and risk rejection in dating, with friends, and by meeting new people?  Or do I remain at home and continue to live a small and isolated life, not really investing in many people and not allowing them to invest in me?

I complain that I want to feel more connected and have more friends, a bigger social network, and to also find that special someone, yet I don’t live my life that way.  I am oftentimes too scared and sometimes overwhelmed to be the type of person I envision myself to be.  I see my best self as engaged, energetic, lively and attractive. When I am living in that space and get the connection and intimacy I am looking for, I set myself up to feel the love that I want to feel in my life.  Sometimes though, that’s the problem, I get what I want.

I don’t always believe I deserve to get what I want.  I act in ways that devalue my hungers so that it doesn’t seem to matter quite as much if I am getting them met.  In reality though, I’m messing with myself. Instead of living through and experiencing that hurt, I am avoiding the pain that not getting what I want stirs.  I end up living unsatisfied and ok with that because it has become strangely comfortable and familiar to be that way.

It hurts knowing I am capable of creating intimate relationships and knowing that I choose not to out of fear, scarcity and hostility.  I get in my own way and blame others for what I have created.  What I am learning though is that not only is this a natural process that people go through, going through it with an increased level of consciousness is helping me to find more satisfaction in my personal life.  I am allowing myself more grace and compassion- I am not as hard on myself as I once was.  I am beginning to see that in order to be more fully intimate with another person, I need to be more fully intimate with myself.  Through self-discovery and knowing more of what makes me tick, I have more of myself to consciously and authentically offer in relationship with another person.  Almost paradoxically, spending time doing my own personal work empowers me to be more fully present with another person, and taking the learns I get from my own growth work back to my personal relationships enriches and nourishes the bond between the two of us.

Check back on Thursday to hear some more thoughts on specific step you can take to avoid loneliness and maintain a deeper sense of connection and intimacy, especially during the holiday season!

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7 responses

1 12 2010
Laila Bechtle

I really like this Andrew. Though I find myself at a different life stage and facing my own set of circumstances, I relate to much of this process . . .

” I am allowing myself more grace and compassion- I am not as hard on myself as I once was. I am beginning to see that in order to be more fully intimate with another person, I need to be more fully intimate with myself. Through self-discovery and knowing more of what makes me tick, I have more of myself to consciously and authentically offer in relationship with another person. ”

I am also learning that as I become more aware of and accepting of my own feelings, I’m able to better allow and accept the feelings of others.

Thank you for sharing this.

1 12 2010
vincent

Thanks Andrew for this interesting article on intimacy. Thanks for sharing!

blessings
vincent

1 12 2010
Andrew Mercer

Vincent- Thanks for reading, I’ve looked over your blog and I like what you’ve written as well! I’ll definitely keep checking back to read your thoughts on life and spirituality.

2 12 2010
Jen Brock

Well done! Save this for your book one day 😉

3 12 2010
Tobi L. Greenenwald

Hey Andrew. I followed a link from your Facebook page and found myself on your blog. As I read, I reluctantly realized I was connecting to your words; in particular, where you mentioned becoming comfortable and familiar with unsatisfaction. And I’ve never once declared myself lonely out loud, or even consciously; I cherish my alone time and enjoy my own company, or so I’ve always told myself (and others). Anyway, from a fellow writer, you have a way of getting your personality on the page that is almost as charming as you are in person…Tobi
p.s.- Now I’m impressed (and I don’t impress easily)

8 12 2010
Holiday Feelings | Sue's Blue Print

[…] or sadness is the feeling I think most people feel around the holiday season.  My son is not going to be home […]

1 01 2011
Battling Loneliness- The Fight for Intimacy Part II | AskMerce

[…] from Tuesday read more of my thoughts on fighting […]

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