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Onlyness & Loneliness: Email Excerpts

A friend and I are discussing my "active social life" and she writes to me:

my question:
in the middle of all this, do you feel lonely? i.e. do you feel like your relational needs are met?
(five minutes later)
it's kind of strange. i realized as i was typing that last email that I feel afraid that you are lonely. ha! strange reaction. i believe in my mind that loneliness is not somehting to be feared, but apparently that is not how i feel in my heart of hearts.
(my response)

You ask such good questions. You know, I thought a lot about loneliness on the Camino, and I have come to this realization/belief: there is a difference between loneliness and what I call "only-ness." Onlyness is the reality that only I experience my life, and that there will always be a level of my personhood that is inaccessible/viewed differently/misunderstood by others. No one else sees me or the world around me precisely like I do at all times. No one else can feel things on my behalf or fix the insides of my brain. This is the reality of being human. This is onlyness. (I used to think that a soulmate would fill this, but I no longer believe so).

Loneliness, to me, is the feeling that no one is with me, no one is present & cheering me on despite the inevitable space - or that they believe there is no space where I clearly see it.

So. To answer your question: I often feel my onlyness, and occasionally feel lonely. I am incredibly grateful for my inner circle friends. You are a fabulous lot who remind me that I am loved.

Are my relational needs met? I think mostly. As I thought about this earlier, I wondered at my motivation for all the socializing I do. I asked myself whether I believe most often that I need THEM, or they need ME. This question is still taking me places, and has answered in part your earlier question about being busy as a protective general, it provides me with enough people that different pieces of me are understood by different groups, and together I feel validated.

I am trying to make my other thoughts coherent, but it is late and this is long. So goodnight, friend.

What do you think? Does this distinction between loneliness and "only-ness" make sense to you? Is loneliness (or only-ness) to be feared? Is it inevitable?


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