Many of us have gone through big changes or are in the process of some sort of life change. Be it getting sober, getting out of debt, getting healthy, moving, changing our lifestyle for the better, going back to college later in life, switching careers after years or decades in one field, divorce, marriage, a new baby, the baby going off to college…
For some changes in life, we have family, friends, and community to support us. Some changes seem to bring more loneliness than we can take at times.
When I truly committed to making a huge lifestyle change and quit all my bad habits such as drinking, smoking pot far too frequently, and cigarettes (mother had lung cancer and emphysema) I seemed to lose a whole group of friends and acquaintances. Some I chose to move on from and some decided that I was no longer that fun. I now understand that God was working in my life and was clearing out the weeds so He could sow a good and fine garden for my future. However, I spent many weekends and moons alone with my tea cup and sadness. I thought I would go mad on several occasions but I found AA and went to meetings, made friends, had a sponsor to call when I was pulling out my hair, and I began to really throw myself into it. I attended every sober party, potluck, holiday, and meeting the group could conjure up. I also took my dog on daily long walks along the beach and continued to explore my relationship with God. I took to writing a couple books back then with no idea that I would publish one of them. I just really enjoyed it and it gave me something to do during the lonely and dark hours.
Time passed and I got used to living life without habits of those sorts. I got used to some lonely time and I began to enjoy life for all the small pleasures: a job I enjoyed and had friends as coworkers, the time at the beach with Clyde, my hound mix, coffee in the mornings, a good Jane Austen movie, reading, writing, and dating (not always enjoyable). I realized that my habits had helped me endure my pain and the lonely times. If I got stoned I could care less about spending a Friday night by myself. Now that I was sober I cared and I was also socially awkward as I had spent much of my life alone or with stoner friends.
When we first make a huge change like getting sober or healthy, we often must let go of a lot of our old life. In AA they say, “All you have to change is everything.” Everyone would laugh at that because we knew it was painfully true. You can’t succeed and remain in the same life that got you where you are. You can’t find a solution with the same old thinking that got you into the problem.
You must go to different hangouts, find new friends that are like minded and doing what you are now trying to do or accomplish. You have to replace old habits and patterns with new ones.
And then the lonelies come. The long nights with no one to call, the weekends watching movies on Netflix by yourself. Oh, it is sad, sad, sad. You cry and feel sorry for yourself. Ah, but it is the beginning of a new life, a new way. Don’t worry, this story will end well with a big, fat happy ending.
I was hard for me to give up my habits. The wine and pot had made many a lonely weekend bearable. It also made me fat and sick and miserable. I never moved forward and I was always depressed. I was worried about my health and I wanted things that I knew I couldn’t get with this weekend ritual. You reap what you sow and with drinking, drug use and smoking cigarettes that would be not much except some major health issues, depression, and a life not fully lived.
Sure enough, after a year of sobriety I was involved in a theater group, I wrote two books, one I have published, and I adopted a puppy (or rather was given one at the local laundromat). Two years later I had a wonderful life on the coast with new friends, a good job, community, then I was married, then I was pregnant with my first son. I had all that I had dreamed of but it only came once I got healthy and sane. And after a year of being very alone and doing a lot of healing and crying…a lot of crying.
Today I have two rescue dogs, a cat that moved herself in after being dumped on the river road, two amazing sons, a really good husband, a solid marriage, our first home and a new community. But even these changes have had times of loneliness.
When we had to move for work and lived in a pear orchard on the river I had a little one and was pregnant. I had no friends nearby except an old high school friend I reunited with after 30 years. I had no community and one family member 40 minutes away. My husband worked 60 to 70 hours a week with one day off. I had some time on my hands. But I used the time to educate myself on all sorts of things, to learn the frugal life since we had a very small income to work with, making everything from scratch from laundry detergent to bread and I became addicted to Amish fiction. That alone time paid off because when we moved to the city I took up writing and self-publishing. I wrote about all I had learned on the farm during those isolated two years of learning a new way of life out of necessity.
The city was almost more lonely than that farm on the river. I attempted to create community but it just didn’t happen. That was for the best in the end also. I had time to do the writing of books and blogging. I was also driven to find us another small town where we could grow in a community.
Alone time can be hard, sad, frustrating, even downright depressing, however, it always is a period of great growth and learning if you let it be. It is that gestation period where we are cocooned away to blossom into a butterfly. This time is so valuable to learn what we want, who we want to be, how we want our life. And for the great healing that must take place before we can manifest anything new and bright.
Friends and family may magically disappear upon your new changes and choices for a new lifestyle. Let them go. Ne people will show up to take their place and these people will be your true tribe. These people will love you just as you are and be on the same path working toward the same goals. Jobs may go. The right job for you will appear. Lovers may leave. Let him or her go. The good one is right around the corner. You may not be able to go to the local pub anymore and you may not be invited to parties now. That is the best thing that could happen to you. Find a Church or Center. Get true friends and a joyous and solid life.
Man’s rejection is God’s protection. I heard this decades ago and it is so true. God will lead you down the right road, he will bring new people, new jobs, new matches, and he will provide all that is good and right. He will take care of you if you call out to Him and then have blind faith. And sometimes it will take a lot of blind faith as your world seems to be falling apart. But it’s not falling apart, it’s being destroyed so a new and victorious one can be built.