Breaking the Stigma
Understanding and Talking About Loneliness
I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone. Robin Williams
People in a social gathering or a crowd make me feel alone. If you know me, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Ironically, I spend time alone and people will often say,”You must be so lonely!” Nope, not at all! I seek solitude!
People make me feel alone. I don’t go to worship anymore because the loneliness is overwhelming. Last time I went I was late - because I was trying to wrangle my kid to class and then get to worship. I hate sitting in back - I was trying to find a seat in the front and three times I tried to sit somewhere and the seat was saved and I was run off. Two of those seats - no one ever sat down and they remained empty. I haven’t been back except with my family for Christmas candle lighting. I now just worship from home online. I always have a seat at home.
My extroverted kiddo came to me last week and lashed out at me. The isolation is hurting this strange extrovert in our otherwise introverted family. This kid was ridiculed at church camp. Struggles to fit in and begs us to move out of state somewhere else. I wish we could. I’ve tried to teach them that they have to find a way to cope with the people here because even if they move, they will always encounter people who are just as rude if not worse; bullies, etc. I think they are finally starting to see that their parents don’t feel like they fit in here either and that has made things easier.
The Bible Belt and the culture in this part of TX is amazing as long as you think and believe like they do. But when you don’t? Not so much. The only homeschool association here is conservative Christians - two of whom I had a scheduled play date with when I saw that they spewed hatred on a social media post by a local news station in comments over some hot button issue and I was like, “I don’t want my kids around these people!” and I canceled the play date. Hate is learned. I don’t teach it, nor do I tolerate it. I didn’t get into homeschooling to protect my kids from a big bad sinful world. I got into it after the final straw with the school system we were at before moving to where we are now. Socializing has been a challenge without the benefit of an association. The pandemic certainly didn’t help either.
So, now we are focused on putting both kids into environments where they can meet kids in their age groups, etc. It’s a challenge, but my youngest needs it. As an extrovert, my youngest feels a stigma attached to how they feel in addition to all of the other things that make her not fit in. Like something is wrong with them. I assured them - really the things that’s wrong in this case is me for not doing enough to compensate socially when they stopped going to youth stuff at church.
The hardest thing for me to teach them is that they aren’t alone. God is with them. When I don’t fit in. When I get crickets when I post or write or when I get run off from saved seats or can’t connect in class with people… or make the friends I dream of having in my own life… I always have God. My blessing is that I was never hurt by Christian people as a kid. I was a very young adult when I first encountered that. I was able to cope and move on. But when that happens to a kid, it’s hard to get them to understand that God and Christians are not the same. God is not the one that hurt them. And, that not all Christians will hurt them. I wish we could find a youth program that ministers to kids like my youngest. The ones that don’t fit in. The ones that are brave enough to go against what’s “normal” and challenge and test and explore. Wouldn’t that be a rarity?
For our kids post-pandemic, it’s important we acknowledge loneliness as we navigate a path that leads to … both peace with being alone without feeling lonely and activities that put us with people… the right people… our ride or die crowd… our friends we want to do life with. And the way we do that? We talk about it.
These bloggers are writing about loneliness today. Check them out.
Breaking the Stigma: Understanding and Talking About Loneliness by MelAnn
(This is where you are now)
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