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The Red Flags - Loneliness
The Red Flags of Romance
As we continue with Noluthando’s Navigating Romance Series, we will raise Red Flags to alert you to areas within yourself that need attention. The mirror they offer is an opportunity for self-reflection.
Today we cover the tough topic of Loneliness.
It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner
AN AUDIENCE OF ONE
Let’s start with a true story:
In 1945, Andre Stamas, a Hungarian prisoner of war, was captured by the Soviets and placed in solitary confinement after psychiatrists diagnosed him as insane. At just 20 years old he entered into a space of isolation that any single person would find horrifying. In 2000, Russian psychiatrists confirmed that he was not actually insane at all. The indecipherable words he had been uttering were not the language of a lunatic. All along, he had been trying to communicate using a rare native dialect.
When Andre was released, the first thing he asked for was a mirror. He had not seen himself in 55 years. Despite having survived indescribable isolation, it was seeing the image of his own face that broke him.
Man was never meant to be alone. It is in the company of others that we experience the intangible essence known as connection. It is in the reflection of another’s eyes that we see ourselves. It is as someone listens that we are heard; in the sound of laughter that we are enjoyed; in the extension of another’s heart that we access understanding.
Empathy keeps all this alive. It is the act of stepping into another’s shoes, even if only for a second, to simply say: I See You.
The human coding of connection is initially internalised during the parent-child bonding process. It is as a child experiences the soothing softness of a mother, and the dependable presence and strength of a father that their fragile heart begins to develop an independent identity founded on trust and transparency. As the child consistently discovers that all their emotional and behavioural exposures are acceptable to their parent, they take bigger risks to express their naked self. A key mark of healthy individuation is an ability to authenticate our personal value. As the ‘you are loved’ impressions become deeply rooted beliefs, a sense of ‘I am’ enters in.
The correlation to God’s name being ‘I AM’ is so magnificent here. He is, after all, the ‘I AM’ in each of us. It is His breath that enlivens our existence, from the day we are born, to the day we die.
When trauma impacts identity- impressions, we begin to entertain flawed beliefs. As we accept these as truth, they create cracked fault lines that compromise our foundations. Over time, attached lie-based thinking overrides God’s intended impartation of the indelible image that is Himself. As traumatic formative experiences remain unresolved, their imprint erodes self-assurance. This drives the wounded heart into adaptive behaviours that unceasingly seek the wholeness of Love.
Herein is the hunger that modern language has labelled ‘loneliness.’ It is here that our un-strategic life-mapping starts out, that we step off ancient paths into self-fulling prophecies. Deep within, unmet needs drive our misdirected quest for completion. We hunger for something we cannot define and are continuously deceived by the illusion that fulfilment can be found in others.
We have already covered this subject. We cannot place people into our empty spaces; nor go down to a dealership and fit our heart for a Ferrari; re-capture lost years in Armani; adjust our vision in wrap-around Prada. Materialism will never satisfy. N.E.V.E.R.
Man was not made to be alone. God intended for Adam to be joined by Eve. The simple construct here is that man and woman would join together in a powerful partnership bonded by love, to produce family. As parents, they would impart healthy God-like identity impressions into their children, who in turn would mature into rooted adults capable of transmitting life-affirming values to future generations.
When high self-esteem is intact, its inherent self-assurance supports significant relational realties of separate and together. When we know who we are, we will never find our ‘alone’ isolating.
Once we have reached the age of adulthood, we are called first and foremost into the company of God. If our Heavenly Father is pleased with our initial development, we will receive His blessing over the rest of our life and further character adjustments will be encoded into our circumstances. Every aspect of what we will experience is pre-destined, set in place. If we are willing to submit, we will find that our lives are secured under sovereign strategy.
Throughout our years, no matter the gains or losses that might distract, we will continually be called to account before an audience of one. The longing we experience within carries the sound of our spirit calling out to its Creator. It is only in union with Him that we will ever feel complete. When we finally show up at our divine appointment, we will discover we are anchored to the infinite and never ever alone.
So: loneliness is a choice.
If we are to embrace the fact that first and foremost we are to walk with God in the cool of the evening, commune with Him in our darkest hour, meet with Him; feast with Him; consult with Him; confess with Him; cry with Him; we will come to see how Isaiah 9:6 comes to life:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The idea of ‘alone’ is a societal fabrication that seeks to assign loneliness into the tomes of medical diagnostics.
A sense of wholeness, being at peace, ok with who and where you are, able to savour times of solitude has nothing to do with being successful at social integration.
It is always about your anchor. When the longing to label yourself ‘lonely’ shouts out or seeks solace in substitute comforters, step into a compassionate self-enquiry. Ask yourself this: what is my source of self-esteem? What well-spring am I drinking from? Am I spending sufficient time in reflection? When last did I listen to my own heart? What in me needs attention? What healthy and constructive steps can I take to connect?
Loneliness is an attitude. As with our sobriety, we need to take personal responsibility around our own self-care so we can ensure our essential needs are met, that we are filling ourselves up from the right source before soaking in any social sphere.
With this mind-set, we are back into choice. Here we can cause the self-imprisonment loneliness dictates to shape-shift into the more appealing abstract called solitude. In solitude, we spend glorious time in our own company, perhaps present to the orchestra of creation.
The problem with people who become comfortable under the authority loneliness asserts is that they end up looking for answers that only lead to more questions. They are also more likely to stay in relationships that are not working or couple-up with other lonely people to marinate in self-pity. For those who choose to be complacent, hooked-up and unhappy is preferable to staying solo. Stepping out into a more relationally balanced partnership where they must take ownership of their own emotional ecosystem is too much hard work.
If we are to become the masterpieces God intended us to be, we must relinquish our immature understanding of relationships; look into the mirror of our own life, step into a reflection of who we are and find out what wounded us in the first place. Journey back there; ask ourselves why we are so misinformed; find something stable and foundational as our frame of reference, our measure – like the Word of God.
Remember: feelings are not facts. Loneliness is also a feeling.
It is Truth that is definitive. It is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
As to an antidote: spending time alone. The remedy to conquer loneliness is, of course, loneliness.
By Noluthando Mthoba
Adult Centre Case Manager
Noluthando Mthoba originally came through our Youth Centre. She was then raised up as a Volunteer and now acts as Administrator. She is also a Case Manager for our Adult Female Centre. She models a magnificent mix of authenticity, integrity and super cool style, every day.
This article continues on from her Navigating Romance series. Stay posted and we will guide you into solutions around typical Relational Red Flags that arise for all of us.
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