Loneliness Can Happen to Anyone, Even Me

How can a woman who believes so greatly in community and connection feel… well, uh, lonely?

This is a question I just can’t get out of my mind. Why am I, as a true believer, community-pusher, connection-promoter feeling LONELY and what the hell am I going to do about it?

Loneliness, Desire for connection, Community

First, let’s back up. Every year around this time I reflect on my father, Ricky, who took his own life in 1983 at a very young age. He left behind his wife and three little children, 8, 5, and 2.5 years. I was the five-year-old.

This event that happened when I was at such a young, impressionable age, has led to my firm conviction in togethernessthat we must feel connected to other people to fully thrive in our lives, and that when we feel the need to check out on life, we have ultimately bought into the lie that our lives don’t matter and we are alone.

Now, I’ve come to many understandings about his death through the years, but as a parent to young children myself, I’ve come to an even greater understanding.

On one hand, I cannot at all ever possibly imagine choosing to leave this planet and leave my two little boys here without me. To leave them here to pick up the pieces of my life, and forever seek to solve a mystery that no one can truly understand, is something I can’t comprehend.

On the other hand, I now see how hard, how frustrating, how exhausting, and how lonely parenting is and can be.

However, now on the verge of my 40th birthday, with a four and 1.5 year old, I see myself battling the big-fat-ugly lie of loneliness.

You don’t have to be a parent of young children to buy into the lie. It can take down anyone: the young, the old, the smart, the pretty.

Loneliness is an epidemic in our society, and this last year, it got me.

I once considered myself a social person, but having two young kids really put a damper on my social life and the ability to deeply connect with people.

Over the summer, my husband and I were driving to a concert at Red Rocks when I became hysterical. I started spouting out things like, “I don’t have any friends anymore,” “No one invites me to anything,” “Have I become unlikeable now that I have kids?”

I wasn’t joking.
What happened to my life?
Why am I feeling so isolated?

I vowed last fall to make more time for friends and deepen my connections to the people closest to me. I told my sister we needed to spend more time together, and we’ve been making time for that. I started up a community group in my home. I made a monthly playgroup for moms and kids to connect.

But still… the loneliness creeps in.

The desire for deep, meaningful connection lurks around every corner, feeling so elusive at times.

In my desperation for connection, I found myself spending more and MORE time on social media, mostly Facebook. I wanted to feel connected so badly and to be a part of something outside of my “mom” role, I kept reaching for my phone. ALL. THE. TIME.

Addicted to phone, Constant scrolling, Checking out

I’d scroll and scroll, not knowing what I was hoping to see, I’d get that little hit of dopamine.

I’d see… other moms making this parenting thing look easy with kids who were clean, well dressed, and smiling AT the camera (how does that happen?).
…friends who were going to dinners and celebrating life (without me).
…colleagues launching new endeavors and finding success.

Meanwhile, sadness and loneliness would sweep in…

And it’s not that I wasn’t happy for them. I was, or at least I was trying to be. But I was sad for me. Sad because it felt like I was missing something. Missing connection, missing people, missing a tribe.

Something was amuck. Why was a site that was supposed to connect me to the rest of the world triggering sadness and loneliness in me?

I decided I needed a serious loneliness overhaul. I believe loneliness is a lie. I believe we are only as disconnected as we feel. So I believe when we feel lonely, we don’t have to stay in that feeling forever. We can change it.

What I found was that I hadn’t lost a connection to others, I’d lost a connection to myself. All this seeking and searching OUTSIDE myself and into the lives of others caused great separation within me.

So, I deleted the Facebook app on my phone and I recommitted to a practice of meditation, even five minutes (and on most days), something I haven’t consistently done since the birth of my FIRST child.

And now… the loneliness has started to slip further and further away. It’s not gone, it still shows up here and there, but I’m not going to let it take me down. I’m not going to buy into the lie and make it my story.

For me, the truth is that the more I reach outside of myself to squander the loneliness, the more lonely I feel. But the more I can quiet my mind and be present to what or who is in front of me right now (my husband, my kids, my work), instead of the latest post or update online, the more connected I feel.

Loneliness really is an epidemic. We really are missing out on something in our individualistic society, but we don’t have to let that cultural norm dictate our happiness. The lie will sneak in and get you from time-to-time, but don’t buy into it. You matter. You belong. Never forget that.

But more importantly, don’t be ashamed when the lie does creep in. To never feel lonely or alone is almost impossible. There is no shame in experiencing these feelings. Anyone at anytime can feel lonely, even the people who are almost always surrounded by a sea of friends and smiling faces.

Don’t hide out and hole-up somewhere. Don’t let the shame of loneliness prevent you from seeking out connections and community. Reach out to friends and family, even though it’s extremely scary and difficult to say, “I feel alone.” It is in these times of vulnerability that our greatest connections can occur and elevate us OUT of these feelings of loneliness.

You are not alone. I promise. And when you see me next time, remind me as well, because even I forget. 

15 thoughts on “Loneliness Can Happen to Anyone, Even Me

  1. Jan says:

    I wonder what the statistic is for entrepreneurs, especially those who work from home. It is a lonely place, and like you, I can get stuck in my head and that is never a good place to stay. I too have to force myself sometimes to reach out to remember that I am connected, that I do matter, and of course I belong. Thank goodness for meditation that keeps me connected to source. Thanks for posting Andrea!

  2. Lisa Shultz says:

    Thank you for sharing this message about loneliness. I have felt lonely taking care of my mom. I crave connection too. I look forward to getting together again soon! Lots of love, Lisa

  3. Marilyn says:

    You write so beautifully. You truly are an inspiration to others.

  4. Dana says:

    I’m almost always just across the street.

  5. acostantine says:

    Thank you Jan – I so appreciate having you in my life, and I’m sure that working from home as an entrepreneur definitely plays into the loneliness factor for me. I’m not sure why reaching out is so hard when it feels so good!

  6. acostantine says:

    Thanks Dana, I need to remember that more!

  7. acostantine says:

    Thank you!

  8. acostantine says:

    Thanks Lisa, I always appreciate our time together and know you’ve had a simliar year as mine. Taking care of the elderly brings out all the similarities of taking care of young children. The constant sense of being needed is tiring, leaving little energy for making the effort to connect with people on our “off time.” We will both make it through this time!

  9. Sunny Weber says:

    You could be my daughter so I feel I should let you know that age will take care of what you are going through. Women’s forties seem to be a gathering time–gathering the past self and bouncing around until you find your future self.
    You are balancing many balls and as far as I can see, you are excellent at all of them. The work you have done for me and my books is remarkable, especially since you do have small children, a husband, a home, and yourself to care for.
    Bouncing can make one feel untethered, and therefore lonely, but in your case, I think the bouncing is because you are so talented at so many things.
    Take time for yourself and let some of the bouncing quiet for a while (such as your meditation). Take heart that as time passes, things will probably continue to bounce but you will adjust to the sound.
    I promise by the time you reach your sixties, you will look back and feel empowered, content, proud of your accomplishments, and may perhaps choose to continue to bounce–but only to things that really matter. Small matters and small people (metaphorically, not children) will cease to matter and some of the noise will fade.
    For now, set priorities where and when you can. Gaining control will help you feel more grounded within yourself and then you just may find that you are your own best company!

  10. Nellie S says:

    Great read! I relate to everything you’ve written(so well I might add). I’m in a similar place where I am often searching for some other level of connection but haven’t found anything consistent that helps. I usually come out of it quickly but you’ve got me thinking of other ways to quiet the storm. Thanks and ❤️❤️❤️

  11. acostantine says:

    Thank you for such beautiful wisdom, Sunny. You are truly shining in life right now, which is so inspiring to see.

  12. acostantine says:

    Thank you. This parenting young-children-thing is so tough. Let me know if you find some other ways that work for you to quiet the storm.

  13. Lee says:

    I really get it
    I left my husband in August and have felt lonely and sad ever since My kids have been great, but they need to pursue their interests and interests. I’m sure it will get better but right now it can be intolerable
    Thank you for sharing. I am sure I am not alone

  14. Fidela DeLashmutt says:

    Thank you so much Andrea you are an inspiration
    To me and so many others ❤️

  15. acostantine says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that, Lee. That is such a hard and lonely time. The stages and phases of life are so interesting. You matter Lee!

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