Seeing Through the Loneliness

Remember we’re all in this alone. ~ Lily Tomlin

Recently, someone asked me to write more about the loneliness that can come with living with a chronic illness. Whew – that’s a tough subject, eh?

Loneliness is more of an emotional state consisting of a hollow emptiness and profound unhappiness. It is not a voluntary condition like solitude might be. Loneliness can affect us all at different times, in different ways – whether it’s a fleeting feeling or a constant state of disconnection or isolation. For people with chronic illness, this can sometimes play a significant role in managing their lives.

Unfortunately, the reality of managing a chronic illness is that sometimes you have to make decisions about what you can handle physically at times – decisions that sometimes conflict with family functions (such as Easter Celebrations), or social functions, or physical challenges. Sometimes this can be a really bitter pill to swallow – especially if you have prepared ahead of time the best way you could, and your health takes a different turn, forcing you to cancel plans. At times like that, loneliness can hit like a sledge hammer, especially if you are possibly bed-ridden or otherwise hampered from your usual activities,

It is difficult to experience loneliness, and all the emotions it comes with. At times like that, it is very important to be kind to yourself; be gentle with yourself. Do things that get you to feel more “connected”, such as social media like Facebook or Twitter – it make all the difference in the world when it comes to dealing with loneliness.

Sometimes, no matter how much a person tries to cope, there is the need to speak with a professional. A counselor can help you manage negative emotions that seem to be a part and parcel of loneliness.

Personally – I find I crave solitude at times, but sometimes even the solitude can trigger bouts of loneliness. I find though that those bouts of loneliness are usually triggered by periods of forced solitude (such as an empty nest scenario) combined with deep fatigue or pain caused by my illness. As long as I keep my non-attachment perspective and can see the loneliness for what it really is, I am able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In our deepest moments of struggle, frustration, fear, and confusion, we are being called upon to reach in and touch our hearts. Then, we will know what to do, what to say, how to be. What is right is always in our deepest heart of hearts. It is from the deepest part of our hearts that we are capable of reaching out and touching another human being. It is, after all, one heart touching another heart. ~ Roberta Sage Hamilton

Remember – you are never truly alone. Just reach out. Reach out to family, friends, bloggers. Find the courage within yourself – it could be the biggest, most courageous step you will ever make. Reach out and touch another heart. They may be just as lonely as you – and suddenly, two feels less lonely, three feels even less lonely…



Recognising your Own Inner Strength through the Fear

“The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”  ~ Lao Tzu

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I often get alot of people asking and commenting to me “How? How do you find the strength to keep going? To keep fighting? I couldn’t do it…I just don’t have that kind of strength.”

I am going to let you  in on a little secret – we ALL have that inner strength. The problem is, not all of us have the faith in ourselves or the willingness to accept or see that spark of inner strength and help fan the spark into a roaring fire.

You see, once you feel the fear of whatever it is that is stopping you in any way (such as facing the fear of living with a chronic illness), you then have 2 choices: to deal with the fear and move forward, or to let the fear control you and stop you from moving forward.

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Remember the old  saying “Feel the fear and do it anyway”? Or, the old Nike slogan “Just do it”? Basically, these are all telling us to recognize our own inner strength; to not allow fear to make or keep us in a victim mentality. But saying and doing are entirely different things. It takes hard consistent work our our parts to keep moving forward, despite the fear, despite the drama, despite the fatigue…

I remember in my younger days, as a teen and young adult, how fear controlled me – fear of what people thought of me; fear of violence; fear of judgement; fear of non-approval; fear…yuck. Then after my kids were born, some of that personal fear was replaced by other fears: fears for my kids safety, fears for their health; fears for what they might witness or experience as they grew up. When I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, those fears changed yet again to fears for my quality of life; fears for how my health would impact my kids; fears for how I could cope with it all.

I can look back now at everything I have gone through, and everything I will go through, and I am confident that I have the strength to tackle anything. Does that mean I am sure that I will always succeed? Heck no! It means that I am confident that I have the strength, succeed or fail, to move forward and deal with anything that comes my way. Does it mean there will be no wavering? No tears? No anxiety at times? Heck no! It means that I am confident that I have it in me to always be able to re-group and grow, and figure out the best way forward for me.

And what are the key ingredients to this confidence and inner strength?

  1. Honesty – Always be honest with yourself. The worst thing you can do is lie to yourself. It’s okay to be afraid, tired, frustrated, sad, angry…
  2. Acceptance – Accept where you are in your life right now. Recognize that everyone learns and grows at their own pace, so you are exactly where you need to be right now.
  3. Persistence – Never, never, never give up. There will be setbacks. There will be days when you feel your life sucks. There will be days days where you wonder if it’s worth it all. Persist anyway! Feel the fear, and keep moving forward, even if it is only a millimetre at a time, or if it feels like you are taking 2 steps back for every one step forward. Remember it’s a journey – one tiny step at a time.

And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.   ~Anais Nin

Feel the fear – and do it anyway!