I grew up in a home that was always (and I mean always) busy. There was rarely a time when I (or my mom, dad or sister) would be at home alone. We have a rather large extended family and a huge circle of family friends, plus my parents had an “open door policy” in their household. A very wide one in fact.
Friends and family would rock up at any given moment, unannounced, for a cup of tea (my sister and I would fight over who is making the tea because there were so many cups to make. When I was given the dreaded task, I would line my cups up from oldest to youngest in an effort to remember which cup belonged to which person). Some weekends I would wake up to the voices of visitors chatting away in the lounge. Our neighbour would even drop by, still in her pyjamas, on a Sunday morning!
This was my life growing up. Surrounded by people.
In 2010, I moved from my home town in Johannesburg to Ballito, Durban, to be with my husband (then boyfriend). It was a huge adjustment-no friends and not one family member in my new home town (well at least any that I am in contact with).
Fast forward six and a half years or so, to last week Friday, 17h00 to be exact. Sitting at the restaurant that my hubby managers and waiting for a new friend to arrive to our social/ business meeting…. lo and behold- she forgot…. and asked to reschedule.
I burst into tears on the spot.
Wait, what? Crying because someone I have only actually met once before stood me up? It was clearly not that. It was a whole lot more than that. It was crying because it was Friday evening and all my friends had plans with their families and loved ones. It was crying because the only family I have here is my husband and he had to work the whole night. It was crying because although my in-laws live in the same suburb and are sort of my family now, it really isn’t the same. It was crying because I was headed home to an empty house (because my fur child cat would probably be prowling the neighbourhood).
It was crying because I was lonely!
Loneliness had sneakily reared its ugly head and hit me square on like a slap in the face.
I got back in my car and travelled 15 km home (in my new clothes with hair and make-up all nicely done!)
Until my restaurant episode last week, I though I had done pretty darn well at settling in and making this my home. In the years I have been here I have met too many people to count and have made the best friends ever, and I absolutely love living here.
How could I feel so lonely?
This situation made me realise a few thing about loneliness:
- It has nothing to do with the amount of people who you are physically surrounded by, however if you are alone you are given more opportunity to think about it. Which brings me to my next point.
- It manifests itself in your thoughts and is expressed through your emotions
- It depends on the quality of people you are surrounded with. Aim to keep company of people who truly love you and want the best for you (this is difficult…very often I find myself in the company of those who are either negative, jealous or self-centred. Avoid like the plague!)
- We exacerbate loneliness through our lifestyle of isolation through social media, instant messaging and living in access restricted complexes.
- Working yourself to the bone, does not leave much time for meaningful social interaction.
Next time you feel that lonely moment, remember this scripture:
Matthew 28:20 “…And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”