So my friend Hanna wrote this really awesome blog post about married/single labels and feeling alone. (You should probably go read it here.)
The post got me thinking a lot about something I’ve been feeling, but haven’t been able/haven’t wanted to articulate. I haven’t been able to articulate it until now because it’s been so painful, and haven’t wanted to because I’m afraid people will think I’m immature/bratty/dramatic/etc. But here it goes. //Start soapbox.
Feeling alone is a peculiar feeling. Elisabeth Elliot describes it as a fundamental distortion of who man was supposed to be: A creature in full, perfect harmony with others and its Creator. But, because of sin, we feel disconnected. Unattached. Adrift. Alone.
My friend says she feels alone sometimes because she is married. I feel alone because I am not. We’re both in different places, yet feeling the same way for me. To be honest, it really is hard for me, (and probably for the well-intentioned woman who wrote this article,) to look at my married friends, and fathom how they could be lonely.
(Side note: This might look different for people whose friends have been married for quite some time, or especially for those whose friends are not yet married. But this is coming from my perspective, in which a great chunk of my friends have gotten married in the past year, or are getting married in the next year.)
It’s so hard for me to look at married life from my angle, and not simply see all of the positives: A real home, furnished with things not found in the basement of a rental house (not at all an example of my life…) A constant partner, a friend who is always there (literally and figuratively.) A warm bed shared with a best friend.
That’s where my (and I think most single people’s) imagination ends. And then we wallow and feel sorry for ourselves and cry on the pink and teal giraffe bedsheets we bought when we were 18 and can’t get rid of because we can’t afford it. (Totally a made up situation right there…)
And I’d imagine that it runs somewhat in the other direction as well. Married people see all of the hard things about marriage, and long for the parts of singleness that were actually pretty awesome. So there we both are, feeling hurt, misunderstood, and very, very alone.
But maybe the real point is that we feel often alone because we let ourselves feel that way.
I’m totally preaching to the choir here, but we feel alone because we let ourselves imagine that no one can possibly understand how we feel. And that’s just dumb.
Single people: I echo Hanna – stop feeling so misunderstood. Remember your married friends were single once. Remember they still like pretty much all the same things they liked when they were single. Remember that they’re a human being, and if they’ve hurt your feelings or made you feel isolated, you should probably just tell them. In short: Be a loving friend.
Married people: This goes for you too! Stop feeling so misunderstood. If you’ve forgotten, then try to remember that you were once single. Remember that your single friends probably are hurting in one way or another, but it may not be how you think. Remember that your single friends definitely want to share in your life, but probably feel really awkward in conversations about things in which they have no experience to share (sex, husbands, wedding planning, etc.) Remember that they’re also human beings. Like I said, in short: Be a loving friend.
I don’t think I’m anywhere near done feeling alone. I don’t think I’ve got this all right and figured out. I’m sure I’ve hurt my married friend’s feelings with insensitivity to their feelings of aloneness as often as I’ve had mine hurt. The point is, feeling alone, at least in many cases, is a solvable problem.
“Turn your loneliness into solitude and your solitude into prayer.”
Ok, end soapbox.//
I’m going to go back to my pink and teal giraffe sheeted bed and drink some tea out of a crappy mug I found in the basement of the house I’m renting….