I feel poignant on my evening walk, as I scan the dusky sky for the little brown bats skimming over the pond for bugs. The birds watch me warily as I approach on the turns of the path and flit away to a safer distance at just the last moment.
Fifteen years of being invisible.
Fifteen years of being a military wife.
Fifteen years of being a homeschool mom.
We never had the luxury of family nearby.
We never had any friends for long since we were transient.
I feel disposable.
Unfriended on social media the moment our van was out of sight towards another life at another military base.
It hurts the same way it hurt to be made fun of in middle school. The way my old neighborhood friends moved on as they found better, cooler friends in their own classes at school and ignored me in the hallways and after school. I learned to just stay inside.
I would cry (I mean sob uncontrollably in a ball on the floor) in my room and ask God why no one liked me, why no one wanted to play with me.
I’m still that lonely seventh grade girl inside my mind.
I never seemed to fit in.
My school acquaintances from high school and college would prick me like a needle with their flippant comments of how I would find people like me someday. I hate being dismissed like that.
It is someday, so where are they?
Some people never grow out of the patterns they learned when they were young. Some people never mature. They continue to throw away people as soon as they are no longer wanted or needed. I’m not important. I’m out of sight and out of mind. No one keeps in touch. I realize I was never desired as a friend. My kids played with their kids or my husband went fishing with their husbands. I was superfluous. They tolerated me because I cooked well as I took their abuse, laughed at their inappropriate jokes, overlooked their snubs. I had nothing in common with them other than proximity.
When was the last time you felt it—your own longing, that is? Your longing for love, your longing for God, your longing to live your life as it is meant to be lived in God? When was the last time you felt a longing for healing and fundamental change groaning within you?Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms
I’m tired of continuous stepping stones to somewhere else, someone else. I want to rest in a lasting friendship.
No one else has access to the world you carry around within yourself; you are its custodian and entrance. No one else can see the world the way you see it. No one else can feel your life the way you feel it. Thus it is impossible to ever compare two people because each stands on such different ground. When you compare yourself to others, you are inviting envy into your consciousness; it can be a dangerous and destructive guest.John O’Donohue, Anam Ċara
We’ve left churches due to vanilla practices and even outright hatred and exclusion. That greatly narrows our opportunities to make and keep friends.
I continue to seek opportunities for socializing at homeschool events.
So many homeschool families have no qualms spouting off hatred and exclusion – about their worship of Trump and his policies and their intolerance for anyone not white, straight, conservative, evangelical Christian. They live in a bubble.
There is the solitude of suffering, when you go through darkness that is lonely, intense, and terrible. Words become powerless to express your pain; what others hear from your words is so distant and different from what you are actually suffering.John O’Donohue, Anam Ċara
I bite my tongue and just listen and cringe so my kids can play with some other kids for an hour. I realize we’re never really welcome. I inwardly cry. It hurts.
I never would have imagined I would be so utterly alone at this age.
I keep forging my path and backtracking and learning and changing and improving and seeking, searching, longing.
I learn the flora and fauna of all the new places we moved to – where the deer congregate at dusk, which birds sing at dawn. I’m giddy when I see a heron. I name the raccoons and squirrels. I bark back to the woodpeckers as they cock their heads to see me better. I anticipate the flowers blooming in spring and relish in the surprise of new colors, patterns, patches. I learn the weather patterns, only to realize it’s different every year. I watch for hummingbirds when the temperature gets warm enough and I mourn their progress south in autumn. I always have a favorite critter that comes to my backyard feeders and I worry about her when she doesn’t appear for a few nights.
My family calls me Snow White. But these animals are more my friends than people could ever be. I feel most at home in nature.
It seems we might finally settle down and stay for a while or ten years or whatever.
It’s scary after being a nomad for so long to realize we own a house and develop a community and be a part of something. But where do I begin?
I asked honestly in a social justice online group: how do I find like-minded families? Their only answer was to move. We literally just bought our house. And that’s not an answer. I’ve lived all over and it was next to impossible for me to find anyone I could share my heart with.
Being quarantined is both a curse and a blessing. Yes, I realize our privilege not being affected financially.
My introvert lifestyle hasn’t changed much. I seldom went out before, but now that I know I can’t, it hits different. Sometimes I forget that I only go to the grocery store. We don’t go to parks now that they’ve reopened since they’re too crowded. We certainly don’t go to restaurants, not even to order takeout. Too many restaurant staff are being exposed and coming down with the virus. It’s so scary. We wear masks whenever we leave the house for appointments.
I realize I am on a journey. I try to relish in my solitude. I learn, research, reflect, improve.
Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.John O’Donohue, Anam Ċara
It hurts me to see my kids miss their sports, friends, activities. It hurts me to get excited for summer and all the things we can’t do. I worry about autumn and the future.
It hurts me that I am a poor role model for my kids because I don’t have any friends. I have no one to turn to in an emergency. I have no one to list on forms that require an emergency contact.
I don’t know how to help my kids make friends when I don’t have any.
I long for more. I long for better.
May the Lord hear my heart’s cry.
There is a certain real loneliness if you say yes and all your old friends are saying no. So be prepared when your old groups, friendships, and even churches no longer fully speak to you the way they used to. But I promise you that those confusing feelings are far outdistanced by a new ability to be alone—and to be happy alone. One of the great surprises at this point is that you find that the cure for your loneliness is actually solitude!Richard Rohr, Falling Upward
- Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing As We Age by Mary Piper
- Crones Don’t Whine: Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Women by Jean Shinoda Bolen
- Rebellious Aging: A Self-help Guide for the Old Hippie at Heart by Margaret Nash
- Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
- The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff
- The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron
- Motherwhelmed: Challenging Norms, Untangling Truths, and Restoring Our Worth to the World by Beth Berry
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
- Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
- The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God’s Eyes by Robert S. McGee