We watched her break down in silence. She was sitting on a stool with her soft napkin in her hand. She was trying to conceal her emotional turmoil by going about her household chores brusquely -but was failing miserably at it. That dignified lady is our Ma. My sister and I could feel the tears coursing down our faces too.
We belonged to a joint family. Four generations and over twenty members live together. Yet, with so many people around her, my Ma was overwhelmed briefly by a bout of loneliness. She felt no one really understood her – her thoughts, her feelings, her expectations or the constant quiet contribution that she was making for the entire family. She felt she was being taken for granted.
Yes, sadly enough, it is possible to feel lonely even when we live amidst so many people. Why do we feel lonely? Can we avoid it? Well, I’d like to discuss ‘solitude’ first. Because then ‘loneliness’ becomes easier to understand.
Solitude is about being at peace with our own selves. We can spend time on our own happily. We don’t mind the fact that there is no one to share that wonderful sunset with us. We can go for long solo walks. We can live on our own. We will rustle up a dish that we love and enjoy eating it on our own. No, solitude doesn’t make us selfish. Solitude means being happy in our own skin.
And this can happen only when we share a great relationship with ourselves. We can love ourselves only when we do the things that we love and love doing the things that we have to do in order to nurture a relationship. When there is an abundance of love in our hearts, we enjoy doing even the most mundane of tasks. We happily smile at a total stranger. We create time and space for the things that we love doing and infuse them with our passion and love.
And this love will help us forge strong bonds of love with at least a handful of people. The equation that we share with each person will differ. But there is some kind of balance in each relationship. That is enough for us because we are accepted the way we are and loved despite our flaws.
Loneliness on the other hand happens when we feel we are not valued and/or loved and/or accepted and/or respected in our relationships. In simple terms, it means we are rejected or taken for granted. Our voice is stifled. We cease to matter to the people around us.
Depending on the dynamics of our ever changing relationships we all will experience frequent bouts of loneliness and solitude. The trick lies in making that transition from loneliness to solitude and creating our own happy space in our lives. Here are some simple ways to avoid loneliness:
Let’s keep love at the centre of our relationships – always:
Let’s infuse each little deed that we do for our loved ones with love-filled vibrations. Love has a beautiful voice of its own. Yes, we do often feel that we are taken for granted. But that is never actually the case.
Our loved ones just express their love for us in a different way. They do love us. It is just that we are not able to perceive their expressions of love.
We may feel lonely at times. We may feel that nobody understands us. But that is just an emotional error that we all often tend to make. Love may flow out of our lives briefly but it will flow right back into our lives – when we need it the most. Always.