Living with loneliness

Loneliness can be a crippling feeling. Richard Ford described it as waiting in a line where the front gets farther and farther away. Try, for just one second, to willingly stand in that line.

Living with loneliness

photo credit: ben_osteen via photopin cc

Loneliness, I’ve read, is like being in a long line, waiting to reach the front where it’s promised something good will happen. Only the line never moves, and other people are always coming in ahead of you, and the front, the place where you want to be, is always farther and farther away until you no longer believe it has anything to offer you.

Richard Ford. Canada.

‘I once worked briefly with a patient of a close colleague of mine. I was consulted on the case. The patient felt such terrible loneliness that she believed that if she willingly allowed herself to feel its far-reaching effects, she would be destroyed by its intensity. Her marriage had broken up, she had no job, she lacked adequate education to find anything but the most menial employment, her friends had abandoned her, she was barely surviving on disability insurance, and she’d tried to commit suicide and failed. Her life seemed absolutely empty and meaningless. In a therapy session, my colleague and I asked if she would allow herself to feel her loneliness, and she kept saying no until we got her down to agree to be fully willing for one second. She agreed to feel lonely openly and without defense for one second. That was a start.

‘After months of working with ACT she terminated therapy. Years passed. We’d completely lost track of her but she called a few weeks ago. Now, more than a decade later, she has a degree, a job, a partner, friends, and a purpose. She has a life. She walked through hell to get there, one moment at a time. And that journey started somewhere. It started with her willingness to feel lonely, to feel it deliberately without any defenses, as you might reach out to feel a fine fabric, for one single solitary second.’

Steven C. Hayes & Spencer Smith. Get Out Of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

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