I was chatting with friend the other day about our evolutionary spiritual journey, and I shared with her that to make further progress in my effort to integrate both my shadow material and my noble/Soul-self, I knew I would have to acknowledge an Ugly Truth: deep at the heart of human existence is the reality that we are all fundamentally Alone. I write Alone with a capital A because the Aloneness I am referring to is not the physical state of being alone or without company. Alone with a capital A is about the psycho-spiritual condition necessitated by being birthed on planet Earth. We can get in touch with this Aloneness at any time (although most of us avoid it like the plague) even in the company of our best friends and most beloved family members.
Now I need to pause here and say that at first I thought that my friend had to acknowledge this Ugly Truth too, and that maybe all of you should as well. But this teaching on Aloneness is about understanding even more deeply that none of us can prescribe what another needs on their path. My guess is that a few of you might find this insight useful, otherwise I wouldn’t share it. However, even though I will use the word “we,” for ease in writing, please read this article knowing it is my path and may not be yours. Take anything that works for you and leave the rest for me please.
The talented comedian and sometimes metaphysician Louis CK illustrates this perfectly in this short, poignant, and hilarious video.
It’s true – we are Alone. As the saying goes, no one came in with us and no one will be able to leave with us—no one, that is, who is not US (more on US later).
I know in New Thought we believe separation to be an illusion. We love to talk about our Oneness and how we are all connected. And we are. Absolutely. When we contemplate our spiritual nature and our spiritual consciousness, we know we are all indeed inextricably linked. Yet, like all Spiritual Truth there is a paradox here. We are One, except when we are Not.
At the level of human consciousness, we each are having our own unique experience of life on Earth. Each human ego, each conditioned soul, each mass of matter and energy we define as a human being is so wildly unique it simply boggles the mind to contemplate it. Consequently, Life in physical form means that we are surrounded by Other, that which is not US. And, at the heart of it, we are Alone on this journey. I have come to see that accepting my Aloneness is critical to my sense of safety.
For the last three or so years, my husband has been suffering from what appears now to be chronic pain in his teeth, mouth, and jaw. After a grueling slog through many health and healing professionals, he has finally been diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia. As you might expect this has taken its toll on our family. We all have this diagnosis now, but in our own way. And what a teacher it has proven to be for me.
It has been instrumental in my coming to grips with my own Aloneness. It has taught me over and over how much help I can be, and how much help I can’t be. It has unceremoniously made me see that I do not, in fact, have the power to make this all better, even if I believe that I do. I have had to learn that the healing journey I would take is not the healing journey my husband should take. It has forced me to look at some very hard things, to own that I have dragged my husband through numerous edgy, all natural, holistic, and in some cases just plain weird treatments—because it’s what I would do.
Interestingly, while I got a great deal out of these things, his results were mixed. When I look at it through this new understanding of Aloneness it makes perfect sense. What guidance I thought I was getting for him was really for me. It’s been painful to see that; and even more painful to acknowledge that I probably would not have sought out these treatments for myself. I wouldn’t have given myself permission.
But the most painful thing of all has been to see how my faith in these things, my “guidance,” was so convincing that I allowed my force of personality to dismiss or drown out my husband’s voice. I often judged him harshly as not understanding how consciousness works, and not believing enough to get well, not wanting it badly enough. Ouch!
The Not-So-Ugly Truth
Accepting Aloneness has dramatically shifted my experience of living with a chronically ill person. First, it helped me see my seemingly uncontrollable need to continue to problem solve this for my husband, despite his repeated requests that I stop, were an attempt on my part to avoid feeling pain and sadness. It’s so crazy painful to watch my beloved suffer. I feel such incredible sadness. I feel utterly powerless. And I unconsciously side-stepped feeling all of this by going into problem solving every time these feelings made themselves known. That behavior led to tension, spoken and unspoken criticism, and resentment between us.
Second, it helped me see that I was afraid of losing him, our quality of life, and the quality of our relationship. I was afraid for me and for my daughter. Before I understood Aloneness, I had the mistaken idea that I had to minimize this, or at least manage it, for all our sakes.
But after accepting my Aloneness, something unexpected happened. I stepped fully into the feelings I had been avoiding, and I faced the fact that I am already Alone. I could see that all this time I had mistakenly believed that my husband could understand me and I could understand him. That we could understand and love each other so much that we would finally feel safe. That our childhood wounds would heal and there would be no more pain. It was a nice fantasy, but not much more than that.
What I now see is that we will never fully understand each other. Seriously, I can barely understand myself. Yes, we have offered moments of understanding and lots of love to each other, and yes we have healed. But we Alone were responsible for and did the healing work.
Accepting Aloneness has liberated me in ways I am just now beginning to see. It helped me stop messing around in my husband’s territory and tend to my own ignored feelings. It helped me see all the ways I was still, after all my shadow work, hoping he would fulfill certain needs for me and then feeling hurt, sad, scared, and angry when he did not. I can now see how impossible it is for me to guide him in his healing journey. And most importantly, I can see what my real job is: to simply sit with him, feel with him, in the pain, in the sadness, in the almost crushing fear…to be Alone Together.
It has been a turning point for me, and for us.
I have accessed huge pools of self-compassion, and compassion for him and for us as a couple. I have found vast reservoirs of loving kindness I never knew I had. Being Italian I had resigned myself to being a “hot-head” never seeing that my heat was coming from the constant effort to try to feel safe by doing the impossible – fixing my outer world and those who populated it. Despite knowing better, there were still times when it seemed that my well-being, and emotional state was at the mercy of my environment, as it was when I was a child. So I never felt safe.
Accepting Aloneness has put my safety back in my own hands. I Alone can decide my response. I Alone can make my interior what I wish it to be. I don’t have to wait for anyone or anything to change, to love me, to be sweet to me, to live or die for me to be safe. I Am Alone and I Am Safe. That knowledge has had the remarkable effect of completely settling my nervous system. There is more ease and grace, and hardly a hint of free floating anxiety, even though I am Alone.
A Liberating Truth
Rather than being a painful or ugly truth, Aloneness has been a hugely liberating truth for me. It’s not painful to accept that no other human on earth can really ever fully know me, what it means to be me, what I have endured and enjoyed, or what makes me who I am at any given moment. It is the expectation that they can, and will, and even should know me and respond accordingly that causes pain. It is the desire for someone or something outside of me, including my relationships, to make me happy, help me feel connected, safe and loved, that opens the door to hurt, blame, and shame, when they can’t help but fail to do what I Alone can do.
The hunt for someone to understand us, to love us, and to keep us safe, and feel less Alone can continue unchecked our whole lives. Many people try to get this sense of safety from money, or position, or status, only to find out that they can be taken with no notice leaving us back where we started. Some seek solace in numbing themselves with work, TV, food, drugs. You know the drill. We all do it from time to time. Why? I believe, as Louise CK so humorously pointed out, it is in order to avoid the feeling of our own Aloneness.
It’s a tough pill to swallow. While others can join us to celebrate or empathize with us, the path that is our life is OURS and only OURS. No one can walk it for us. Our pains and even our joys cannot be offloaded to others. We know this is true. We have all tried to give it away, our joy, our pain. But it just won’t budge. The friend who’s always down can’t just take your joy. She has to find her own – but yours can point the way to where hers is located by resonance. This is why EVERYTHING is mirroring back to us what is inside or missing inside.
We may share a part of our path from time to time with others, our parents, our spouses, our children, our colleagues, but if you have lived any length of time at all, you know that these co-journeys are not permanent. Without warning or preparation, those we hold most dear may come to the end of their journey, or at least the end of the part of the journey we were sharing with them. And we grieve those losses. I suspect in part because they force us to see this unwanted truth that we are ultimately Alone, or really we are Alone-ish.
So here’s where it gets interesting. We are indeed Alone. It is up to US to make something of our time here on Earth. No one else can do it for us. But what we are not is alone in our Aloneness. Every single other human on the planet is also, deep down, Alone. And that means we are in good company.
We have talked about being Alone together, and how it is so much easier to be with each other in our pain and sorrow, as well as our joys and triumphs, when we recognize it ours Alone. No jealousy or comparison is possible if we get it in our bones that we are on our own path. We can celebrate another’s success without negatively comparing ourselves. Nor is there a need to fix someone’s pain or hurry them over their grief. We feel more comfortable around hurting, grieving people if we are willing to acknowledge our own grief and sadness, and if we recognize that we, and they, are Alone in working it through. Our responsibility is our response. We can be with them tenderly, vulnerably, Alone together.
Together we come to terms with what it means to be Alone. And it all starts with one profound realization:
I am the One.
I am the One in my own Life.
I am the Source of my own Life.
I am the Love of my own Life.
Okay maybe a series of realizations. This series of realizations is at the core of stepping fully into our power, our prosperity, our purpose, and our potential. Once I can see this is What IS, I can choose it. And that’s when the magic happens. Now I can add intention and consciousness to What Already IS, to my Aloneness.
I Choose to be The One for me.
I Accept that I Source my Life.
I Rejoice in Being The Love of my Life.
I Choose to be with Myself in my Aloneness.
And finally, perhaps not consistently at first, I can stop abandoning my Self and My self (all aspects of me) in pursuit of things, people, and situations outside of me that can never, ever take away or fix my Aloneness. After all, I am the only one who was with me in the beginning and I will be the only one with me at the end.
And that is the paradox.
Once I commit to being here, truly HERE, for me, MySelf and I, in my Aloneness, I no longer feel alone. I have ME! All facets of me: The Divine Me, the wounded me, the ego of me, the Soul of me, the heart of me, the mind of me, and on and on. I am US. As these parts of me come forward and I embrace them, I know I have all the company I need to be safe and well.
I am Alone on my path.
And, I Am Enough.
You are Alone of your path.
And, You Are Enough.
Let us be Alone Together.
We are Enough.