Breaking The Agreement To Be Alone & Lonely
When I was a young girl I made an agreement with myself. The first time I made this agreement I swallowed a dark seedy energy that wove its way through my jaw, sealing it shut.
The agreement was to stay quiet and hide the parts of myself that were too much for other people. I didn’t feel like it was safe to be me, and I believed that hiding parts of myself would protect me from the dark pain of loneliness.
I would make this agreement with myself over and over again. Each time I risked sharing myself, albeit through clunky, overwhelming emotion, I was rejected and taught I wasn’t behaving “the right way.”
Growing up I learned:
- It’s okay to feel sadness, but it’s not okay to express anger.
- I will still be loved even though I am angry, but I will not necessarily be liked.
- Being happy and carefree is the best way to be.
- Feeling sad means that there is something wrong that needs to be fixed.
The most accurate way to describe my emotions in my youthful years is overwhelming. They overwhelmed me, my family, and put a damp mask of drama over our home.
But I wasn’t just sad—I was also really angry. I was angry that I didn’t feel heard, and I was tired of feeling misunderstood. But I always knew I was loved. So, I was loved and alone, and it as confusing as hell—and that made me mad.
My anger would build and erupt when I felt my aloneness become too much to bear.
I would scream at my parents, feeling like I couldn’t control what was coming through me, a desperate attempt to finally be heard. In turn, I was told to go my room. I was shunned, pushed away, and punished for expressing my anger. In my room the sadness took hold, and I would cry like there was no end to the depth of my pain.
My family gave me love. But even with their good intentions, I didn’t feel loved in the way I needed to be loved. I didn’t feel seen or heard or understood. I felt very, very alone.
Feeling alone is probably the scariest feeling I have known.
Loneliness is isolating, overwhelming, and seemingly eternal. Loneliness has made me believe that I am not worth loving, that I will never know true love, and that I am not worthy of being seen or heard.
I felt that loneliness, and I mourned it. Those were the moments when I made an agreement to myself that I was only safe with me. I told myself I wouldn’t try to share who I was or how I felt with anyone anymore because no one would understand me.
I told myself that I was alone.
My mother felt alone growing up, too, in her house full of family. She probably passed some of her loneliness down to me, an irony in that she always vowed to give her children the love she felt she didn’t get. She did her best, but I think she saw in me what she hadn’t been able to give herself up to that point—her own love.
I didn’t see my mother loving herself, and so I didn’t know how to love myself. I didn’t know that loving myself was something I could do. I thought I had to get love out there.
So when I couldn’t get the love I wanted from my family I moved on to my friends. In a lot of ways I was a really good friend: loyal, a good listener, compassionate. But over the years most of my closest friends would abandon or betray me. Some of it probably had to do with me pulling on their thread, yearning for more and more love until they unraveled and no longer existed for my purpose.
Once friendship didn’t seem to feel the void, I began to long for romantic love. I believed it would be the love that would save me. I believed that there would be someone who would really see me, honor me, stand by my side, and give me the feeling of home like I had never felt before.
And I found my heart broken over and over again by men who couldn’t love me. I have been broken, crumbled into dust from heartbreak and found these dark truths. I have fallen into the depth of my pain and discovered my fear and my unspoken agreements.
If you believe you’re alone, you’ll find evidence of it everywhere.
The truth continues to shine a light on the darkness so I can heal. I see more and more of the picture, understand myself a little better, and heal a little more. The sadness moves through me, and I know it can not destroy me. I know I can not get lost in it. I know I am strong. I know I can follow the signs, connect the dots, and continue to live my best life.
I know that I will have a person who sees me and honors me and stands by my side and really loves me. But he won’t be the first—I will be.
I don’t need anyone to give me purpose because purpose is inherently mine. I don’t need anyone to make me feel less alone because I belong within myself everywhere I am. I don’t need anyone to save me from myself because I love who I am.
So that repeated agreement that I made to myself as a young girl—that it’s only safe to be alone—is not one I subscribe to anymore. I terminate that contract, and I have created a new one. This one says it’s safe for me to be me, that I can trust love, and through my own love I have discovered that I am never alone.
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