One Saturday morning I was with a few of my girlfriends, brunching it up. We were drinking champagne and eating bagels, because you only live once, right? We began talking about issues we all currently facing. Some had finance problems, job stress, parenting problems, some dealing with racism.
But there was one thing that hit a note with literally everyone in the group.
Let me lay this out again. I was with a bunch of friends. We were laughing, we were together, and we were eating a lot of carbs. Yet, everyone still admitted the struggled with feeling lonely.
Because it isn’t in those moments that we feel the sting of isolation. Not when you are out, when you are “on.”
The loneliness instead comes on a Tuesday evening, when your spouse is gone and your baby is finally asleep and there is nothing on Netflix and you feel like you are being held hostage by a baby monitor and boredom. It is when you check Instagram and start comparing your bland reality with the sparkly fake reality of others. It is when you are aching to get married, no matter how many times you tell yourself you are “fine” being single. It is when you live thousands of miles from your college besties. Or when you are missing someone who no longer even walks this earth. It is when your family, the very people you love the most, hurt you so deeply.
Folks, I have been married for about 899987 years. (Note: actually 11 but I am dramatic) In that time Kyle and I we have lived in five states. FIVE. That is five times where we were new. Where we had nobody. No family, no church, no friends. We had to start over, hustle from the bottom to create some sort of life. It is exhausting just to think about, but for whatever reason, it has been our path.
So that is where my lonely happened. When I was in a new apartment on a Friday night, drinking gluten free beer to calm anxious my mind. Or when we needed help moving our couch up a new flight of stairs, and didn’t have anyone to call.
The question remains: if we are all lonely, what do we do? How do we fix that because not fixing it seems pretty lameo.
For me, I got uncomfortable. Intentionally uncomfortable. Just dove right on in to the awkwardness.
What does that mean?
Getting uncomfortable about making connections and community, even when it feels weird. Invite that couple over that you just met. Go to a happy hour one-on-one with someone. Ask real questions. Tell your stories. Keep at it, until the connections feel less blerg, and more great.
Three years ago was our last move. From New York City to Memphis, Tennessee. I didn’t even know where Memphis was but it just popped into our life and that was that.
I could list the million ways God had his hand over this move, and how great it turned out. But when I was in my NYC brownstone and we were contemplating if we were really going to pack up yet again, I flat out said to God: FINE I WILL GO. BUT IF I DO, PLEASE BRING US FRIENDS.
Because I was so over the lonely thing. I have no time for that BS anymore.
This past Easter, I remembered that moment because of this:
This was my Easter.
I was surrounded by more friends I could have imagined. Friends who we can call on, and they do the same. Friends who visited us in the hospital when we had our baby and no family in town. Friends who we have laughed with, cried with. Mostly laughed with.
It took time - a lot of time. It took effort. It took uncomfortable hang outs, until suddenly they became comfortable. It isn’t perfect and sometimes the ache returns but it is enough, for now.
Friends bring life. And hey, if we are all lonely, at least we can be lonely together.