On Loneliness

Part of a series of pieces illustrating women alone. You can purchase a print on my shop.

Sunday morning and a post on a support group for loved ones of folks with mental illness asking about loneliness and how to overcome it.

How do I work with the loneliness when it makes me uncomfortable? I go further in. There is a concept common to many traditions and first and best known to me as expressed in the Gospel of Luke.

“… Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.”

Luke 17:21

I pray/meditate. I take walks or hikes. I make a lot of art. I am alone and quiet. Until I’m inside.

In, in, in. The answer is there. The answer for any one person is not in another person. It is within ourselves. And know that the answer I get may look hella distressing to you, and vice versa. And now I’m reminded of a quote from CS Lewis’ Narnia series.

“Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy.

I make use of my support groups. It’s how I know that I’m not alone in the trappings of a life less ordinary. I have come to know, however, that the “typical and normal” responses (by group members, by their support teams, by so-called experts) to these life events and big feelings don’t work for me. There is a lot in those support groups that does not resonate at all with me. They feel very wrong in my mind and my body. I have a strong suspicion that I am not alone in this.

Which reminds me of yet another quote that seems super subversive to me, by a man who is considered anything but by a whole lot of people

“Truth is not determined by a majority vote”

– Pope Benedict XVI

Many will interpret that quote as an attempt at absolutism, but really, actually, it cuts both ways. (Waves at Msgr. Lou, who loved debates philosophical and theological, God rest his soul).

I got to thinking, and not for the first time…

Why are we lonely? {the we I refer to, in this case, is the we that has loved ones with atypical behaviours resulting from atypical experiences that were, for them, traumatic} We’re lonely because the world really isn’t set up to accept our atypical lives. Society has acceptable parameters within which our life circumstances do not fit. Most people don’t want to even try to imagine the kinds of lives we’ve had to fashion. Those who see it call it “bad” and unhealthy, further traumatising us. Trying to force our experiences within those parameters, in my experience, is (or could be) more harmful than it is intended to be. We get caught in a compare and despair cycle.

I am working on opting out of that and seeing MY life exactly as it is, deciding what MY boundaries/comfort levels are, deciding for MYSELF what I will and will not be traumatised by, and voicing MY needs with enough conviction that I get them met. I decide what is helpful to me, what I’m resigned to, what I accept, and what I consent to.

It’s uphill both ways. Which hill do I want to die on?

I like the hill called “Interconnectedness and Anarchy”. I like where it intersects with “Agency and Autonomy”. I like where it seems to reside roundly in the place where we know that we are all one. Here, people listen and accept that you know best about yourself and your people. Here, they either offer what you’re asking for, or not. But never judge that you need something other than what you ask for. They may suggest alternatives adjacent to what you say you need, or something completely Other. But there is no co-ersion. I fix ME. And I fix myself to MY vision of where I ought to be. Everyone else is merely a non-judgmental partner, if they are resourced and able to meet your needs.

F*ck “Typical and Normal”. That place is bullshit for people like us. Nobody over there actually LISTENS to what we are saying we need. Over there they say, “No, you need THIS. And THIS is what you will get, regardless of what your mind and body are telling you that you need. You. Are. Broken. Only we can fix you.” And the thing is that they’ve got a whole lot of us convinced that there is something wrong with us if we intuit that there is Another Way to live and heal. And hey, there are folks like us that WANT to live within those parameters and that. is. ok.

If you don’t understand this post, thanks be to God that your life fits within the acceptable parameters of “Typical and Normal”. Just know, though, that there seems to be a shifting of borders and “Interconnectedness and Anarchy” seems to be gaining some ground. “Typical and Normal” is putting up and ugly fight on some fronts. And the transition is creating some weird dissonance and awkwardness. Prepare to become uncomfortable, if you aren’t already. And lonely. Loneliness is ok. Go in…

On Loneliness


Just a woman trying to leave this place better than she found it. Farmer. Teacher. Creator. Cook.

2 thoughts on “On Loneliness

  1. My goodness I see some beautiful healing going on Fae Nissa Fae, mostly bc it’s me, it’s what I’m doing too! ❤️

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