Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A cure for loneliness

This blog might very well be about my undying love for Jimmy Sherrod.

Or for you, for that matter.

I am surrounded by such incredible people such an incredible amount of the time. I am offered such grace, and I don't know what to do with it, and I don't know how to be grateful for it. And I don't know what to do  with the fact that there are so many people--I have met too many of them--who are still so alone in this world, or the fact that I can be lonely in a crowd of people, in a crowd of friends even.

I wonder often about a cure for loneliness.

I have told this story before, but it needs telling again. When I was in the hospital, in the psych ward at Sibley, one of the social workers asked us to do an exercise in which we were to name 5 supports that we had outside of the hospital. Five people who could be part of our mental health safety net. I could fill my 5 slots entirely with Methodist clergy and not even get to friends and family members. I was the only person in the group who could name 5. One person said he could not think of any.

Loneliness is fallout from the brokenness that we all see in so many shapes and sizes. Loneliness. As pervasive as economic inequality, as structural and overt violence, as racism and sexism. As omnipresent as war, but more subtle, growing more like weeds out of pavement. Is there a cure for loneliness?

Depression--and probably plenty of states besides depression--makes you lonely all the time. Being actually alone is the worse for me. The walls close in. The floor rears up. I scream, soundlessly sometimes, sometimes not. But you can be talking to someone you care about and feel alone. Feel trapped in a body you don't want, a mind you can't live with. Is there a cure for loneliness?

I don't know anything other than to surround myself with people who help me beat back the loneliness. To wage a constant struggle with it. To open the door to my room. To say hello to my housemates. To pray, and trust that I am heard.

There are people, so many people, who bring the candle of their love, of their presence, into the dark room of my loneliness. Thank you all. Despite all the barriers thrown up in your way, you keep coming. Maybe together we can find the cure.

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