Lonely is such an unwelcome thing to feel. A room full of people, laughing together, and you are an island. A party everyone attended, and you hadn’t been invited. Weeks that pass by with no communication. Kindnesses you extend that are met with indifference. A deep and guttural cry for connection that returns as an echo, empty and hollowed out with the passing of time.
We find ourselves in these moments, wondering if we are loved. We question our relationships to test if they are real. To see if we are wanted. We probe for acceptance, hoping to be met with a ringing shout of affirmation.
I am one of you; one of those who wonder. I’ve been to therapy enough times to be familiar with the deep fear of rejection. I have met with the face of the beast who says “you are not loved” and I understand him, but I don’t believe him.
I understand the bottomlessness of fear, but fear is often a liar. An illusion; a mirror held up to the darkness to make it seem like the darkness never ends. But it does. There is a ceiling to fear. It is contained. It has limits. It is bound.
Fear plays with special effects. It doesn’t live on forever, and it doesn’t need space to roam free. It needs to be put in the corner and told what to do. It is a child who is allowed to stay, but isn’t allowed to drive.
When I am feeling afraid, and wondering if perhaps I am unloved, I take deep breaths and ask myself what fear is really saying. Often, it is: “you are being abandoned by everyone because you are not enough.” When I say it out loud, I can spot the lies. So I tell myself the truth. Then, because my value isn’t tied to the approval of others, I acknowledge my fear and tell it to please step aside so I can begin the work of healing the part of me that is clearly grieving and broken. In one case, the loss of a real friendship. Other times, the sting of an old wound. Still others, a swing or a dip in mood.
Whatever the pain, I meet it with compassion.
Fear wants to be a dictator, but fear is a toddler. It should not be given power; it should be watched closely. When you need to, place fear in a time out and remind yourself of the truth: you are valuable, and you are worth loving.