On Alone, Loneliness, and Friendship

Sometimes, late at night, I lie in bed and stare at the ceiling fan above me, with no other sounds in the house except the normal sounds that houses make.

I can lie very still and very quiet—until all I can hear, all I can focus on, is the sound of my own breath and the feel of the pulsing of my heart in my chest radiating out into my body, and throbbing, pulsing in my toes and fingertips. If I let myself float for but a moment, to wander around the sounds of silence in my room, I can realize there is much more going on in the world than of which I am consciously aware.

I can hear the sound of the fridge in the kitchen humming and the faint click when the compressor shuts off. I can hear the collar on the cat jingling. I can hear the click, click, click of the dog’s paws on the floor of the kitchen. Sometimes I can hear the rattle of my son’s bunk beds when he rolls over or moves and sometimes the whoosh sound of the water heater as the flame comes on to keep the water warm.

As I drift farther from my inner sanctuary that is my home, off in the distance there is a sound of a dog barking. It’s faint, and I probably wouldn’t even notice it if I wasn’t lying so still and listening to all that is around me.

Occasionally, the sound of a passing car or the stirring of the wind blowing the chimes hanging on my back porch sends sounds through to my other senses. If the wind is strong enough, I can hear the slight pounding of the awning covering the back porch as the wind lifts it up and bangs it back down again.

Then suddenly, from floating outside of myself, I am thrust deep in my very core, straight through my chest and into the core of who I am. I hear a faint high-pitched ringing noise—it’s always there, and it’s only when it gets very quiet that I notice.

It is the moments like these I both love and hate. These moments at night or early in the morning in bed, sometimes alone, when I can feel the very core of who I am… the moments when I have no other influence on me, but I can feel others inside of me, even when I am alone—in these moments, I can drift through the corridors of my own essence and feel the life that surrounds me.

These moments show me that even when I am by myself, I will never be alone.

There will always be people who enter a person’s life who will push far enough, long enough or hard enough that they can eventually become a part of the core of that person. Each interaction with people who do this will move both closer to being a part of the core of the other.

This is love. Not necessarily romantic love, but it could be. I just mean love, in general, the love you feel for a friend, for family, for a lover, for your pet, for anyone else who in some way makes themselves even the smallest part of who you are. This is what love does—it takes a person and places them somewhere inside of another—so that each is changed, ever so subtly by the essence of the other—not enough to change the individual, but just enough that each become an integral part of the other.

Follow the paths of your heart and your soul and wander around inside of yourself and see—really see—who is lingering there, who makes up the core of who you are, and ask yourself:

  • Do I like who I am with this person inside of me?
  •  Am I a better person for the essence of all those I hold within me?

For isn’t that what we should all strive to do? We should find those to be a part of our life who build us up, who lift us to new heights we could not achieve on our own.

We should choose those who can make us smile when there are tears on our faces, those who can lessen the fear when we are afraid. We should surround ourselves with those who will reach out to us no matter the personal cost or circumstances and say, “I care about you. I worry and wonder about you. I am a part of who you are. What happens to you affects me.”

It’s not about losing yourself in someone; it’s about sharing yourself with someone. It’s about letting another person into your life—to allow them to wander down these paths you must walk, paths that lead to your heart and soul, while they leave behind fragments of themselves that begin to make up the core of who you are.

It’s about looking at yourself and saying with gusto, “Yes! I like who I am when this person is inside of me!”

This is how to know a person belongs in your life, for if you cannot allow a person inside of you, then that person is no friend.

If you cannot trust a person to walk the path with you, that person is a mere acquaintance and should have no impact on your core whatsoever.

If you can’t look at yourself in the dark of night and honestly say you like who you are with the people you hold inside, you need to find a new path to walk, for those people inside you will never lead to a life of fulfillment.

And this is why no one’s opinion of you should matter except for those you hold the closest to you, those who you hold inside of you. Everyone else could fade away, and if you have just one person like this, just one, you will never be alone, you will never be lonely, and you will always have a friend.

I wish for each and every one of you that one person–and if  you are truly blessed, many, many more–so you will never feel alone, never be lonely, and always have a friend. I know what this means.

Each and every one of you who comment regularly, who read me and send your prayers and love and positive thoughts and well wishes, I hold each of you inside of me. You mean more to me than you can realize because with you here, I never feel isolated. I never feel alone, even when I am. I have people in person, in my ‘real’ life, who love and care for me, and I am truly blessed for that, and though they rarely leave me by myself, rarely, I do find myself alone, and all I have to do is plug into the internet, and there you all are for me. It’s an amazing thing. It’s truly connected human beings in ways we never could have been before.

I’ve met people online in places I have never been and will never go, but through them, I see these places with different eyes. I’ve met people from across the ocean in exotic locations that my health won’t allow me to travel, but I read about them there and look at their pictures, and they transport me. I’ve had debates with some of the most intelligent (and arguably some of the stupidest) people I have ever met, right here on the internet, and been stimulated by them in ways I never would have guessed a simply communication could stimulate me. I’ve laughed, cried, prayed for and sent money, gifts and presents to people I’ve never and probably never will see in person. But they are just as real to me as anyone I have met in person.

It is YOU, the people who interact with me and who read me, who help give my life purpose. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be sick like I am and not have the internet. I think I would be very sad, lonely and even more frightened then I am. The ability to connect with people when I can’t leave the house, it’s simply amazing.

I am grateful for the internet. I am grateful for my friends. I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for my life, such as it is.

Think about your friends. Are there ones who bring you down, who don’t lift you up, who make you feel less than…? Life is too short for that. Find people who make you feel good when you carry them around with you. Find people who make you a better you, and those are the people to hang on to. The others, let them go with grace and gratitude for the lessons they have shown you. Move on. Move upward.

Move forward.

I love you all for who you are…


Love and stuff,

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3 comments to On Alone, Loneliness, and Friendship

  • Angela Young  says:

    Wow! Very profound. We never leave the life of a person we have truly touched (and visa versa). Awesome– God bless you with His presence at your inner core and bring healing through His touch. Angie

  • Derek Odom  says:

    What an awesome post. I couldn’t agree with you more, either. I’ve made Internet friends that I care for deeply. It’s a sign of the times. I often think about those with Asperger’s or those, like yourself, who do not or cannot get out much, and how the ‘net has helped them form real, meaningful relationships.

    You are an amazing person and you deserve nothing less than amazing friends. Even though you realize you help a lot of people, I don’t think you realize just how *much* you’ve helped some of us. Sharing some information and answering questions is one thing, but you’ve changed entire lives for the better. That, my dear, is a good ‘net friend.

    Thank you.

  • JM Van Horn  says:

    Angela and Derek pretty much nailed it on the head.

    The Internet has become a way to connect with people who we may never have twenty years ago.

    And without said Internet, we would have missed out on having an amazing person, you. Not just for the advice you offer but the real interest you take. There are still times when I am amazed to see what you have done or would do to help folks and never ask for anything in return.

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