musings amidst a long run of lonely

Posted: November 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s 7:41 on a Tuesday night and though I am not sleepy, I am in my pajamas, in my bed, sitting propped against pillows, with covers across my lap. A fitting end to an evening that included making a beeline home after work and then cooking and consuming entirely too much food as I watched The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and I do believe it was THREE episodes of 30 Rock. Did my dishes and then forced myself to stay up long enough to update my calendar whiteboard, carefully writing in December’s plans

Man, this is a long run of lonely.

Though I am (in the larger picture) pretty darn content being single, once in awhile I unexpectedly skate into a little lonely patch along the way. It generally manifests itself in one of two ways:

  1. An overwhelming longing for physical touch and affection. This is not Karen’s nice code words for sex. Just…hugs. A touch on the arm. To boil it down to the simplest picture, which always haunts me during those passages…I generally just want someone very strong and very male to come sit on my couch and let me curl up into his shoulder for a little while, and feel his heart beat, and hear him breathe, and just be.
  2. A deep wish just to have someone around the house. Some to share meals with, sit and talk, sit and not talk. Nothing spectacular. Just…companionship.

Happily for me, this current passage is much more a #2 scenario and not nearly as much #1. I suppose that’s to be expected, when one moves out of an intentional community, where being alone doesn’t really ever have to happen, and into a nice quiet 2-bedroom apartment alone in a senior living facility. It’s going to be an adjustment, going from eating with friends 3 meals a day to eating with a laptop and/or TV 3 meals a day. It’s going to take time and it’s not necessarily going to feel marvelous every step of the way.

Some might mistake my loneliness for boredom or lack of relationships. I contend it’s neither of the above. Filling out the calendar tonight was a proof for me that I don’t lack for things to do or friends to do them with. My average week includes:

  • a prayer meeting with a friend (the same one I’ve been having for about a decade now…didn’t even skip that when I lived 4 hours away…Skype, I love thee…) on Mondays
  • mentoring meetings with 2 different friends on 2 different days…Thursday and Saturday
  • Bible study with a small group that I’ve been in for a couple of years now (Skyped that one too, when it wasn’t just down the block) on Wednesdays
  • lunch with an old friend from high school, usually on Thursdays
  • phone calls with both of my kids at least once or twice a week…sometimes daily
  • phone calls with friends who live near and far…most days there is at least one of those
    church somewhere (though I’m not a member anywhere yet, most weeks I worship somewhere)
  • some great friendships at work
  • snail mails with some friends, and emails of substance (read: not goofy forwards) with others

So. you see…I’m not bored. Not lacking for something to do, or for people in my life…on the contrary, life seems to keep me either too busy or too broke to visit a whole lot of people I’d like to be spending more time with.

“Karen needs a man!” I can already hear some of you chuckling it as you read. Meh. If the Lord wants to send Mr. Right my way, that’d be cool, but I don’t think that’s actually probably what this is about. I’ve been fighting this round for weeks, which is weeks longer than lonely can generally stick to me…I can usually move past it in a matter of days. I’ve considered looking for one or more roommates (and haven’t yet ruled that out entirely). I’ve tried to “just give it time” while I try to adjust.

Finally, it occurred to me yesterday that lonely is just one of MANY things I tend to experience just before I plunge into a spiritual challenge. And I’m doing exactly that, as of December 1: a 40-day prayer challenge, about which I am very excited. So at least SOME of this yuck is just typical, average, ordinary, perfectly expected battle that always comes before God moves in deep ways in my life.

And then this morning, the Lord reminded me of a lesson He had shown me a long time ago. Lonely is quite often A GIFT that He gives me, to draw me nearer to Him. If I use the gift as He intended it, then I grow in intimacy with him. If I fight it or try to solve it myself or wait it out…wellllll….it ain’t nearly that pretty, folks.

So, having collected all those thoughts up in a neat little package, I guess it’s time to use what I know, put down the computer, and press into the One who loves me enough to gift me with just what I need, when my love for Him has perhaps grown tame and measurable.

O praise the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever.


  1. Boy, I sure do understand your sentiments this evening. I never lack for things to do or people I can talk to at any given time. I am never bored…but sometimes, there are some times when I think it would be quite lovely to be in the company of a man lest I forget that I’m a woman. LOL A touch on the arm, a warm embrace, a kiss.

    Hmmmm, I shall ponder this now as I watch my own political madness.

    P.S. I guess I missed the posts that you had moved out on your own. Congratulations! Heck, I think this is the first time in how many years that you’ve lived alone…perhaps, it’s the first time EVER?

    Can you have a dog? I have some very cute puppies. LOL

  2. karen says:

    Well, I lived alone from November 2009 to October 2010 and loved it…but THAT was my first time in life ever of living alone.

    No dogs, thanks! I have a temporary housing situation provided by my employer, but I’m looking for an apartment…don’t need the hassle of dealing with landlord/pet issues!

    Thanks for stopping by! Great to hear from you.

  3. thredd says:

    whichever way one looks at it, loneliness is not cool. it hurts it stings [i could go on if i do i will find myself without myself in the outer brinks of some non place- a stoic mobius strip of nihilism [un-nameable words would come about now- where i am no longer even processing emotion and i have become a weird non planet on the edge of an unknown galaxy and i am non-retrievable irreparable- have been so since “who knows” and it’s definitely my fault and every ones fault ALL answers which defy themselves valid and invalid all systems down- but functioning :as usual / but not- and there is not that thing called Love or God or “Personal” – PERSONAL – the thing i or you or any of us wish-wanted for forever- the things you are writing about – so i stop. i will now applaud myself!] . all i know to do is say if you have made it this far and are still so soft to the Softest Nicest One Ever and absolutely always trying your bestest in the ways you know how- to be thankful for what you have and also to be available to others? i back you up with all hands raised for your secret desires because Love knows exactly what you need when you need it and you were not meant to be “untouchable”. i do not know the will of God i just know i am allowed to ask for what i want. and so are you and He gives excellent Gifts to His kids. yes i am being bold. its a”thing”. but faith is faith and trust is trust. He does not disappoint. He is the Gift obviously you already know that, i just want you to know i care about you but i wouldn’t even begin to know how much He cares for you. it’s pretty big. ❤ R. sweet writing! it's your call on if you let this comment post or not. i suppose i got kind of deep there. but you are worth it.

  4. thredd says:

    oh…. well there it is then! hOLLA!

    • karen says:

      Yup, sure, there it is! I approved you (of course) the first time through and now I don’t have to approve every single thing you write, because whatever you have ever written me over the years has been stuff I want to embrace, and not block!

      Thank you for the boldness AND the depth. I’ll fall asleep pondering your words tonight.

  5. thredd says:

    cool! sleep well and we aren’t ever alone and if we are for like “a season?” we are with The Alone Anyway and He isnt Lonely at all Ever. [i heard that somewhere it made me feel better for some reason] :]

  6. So nourishing as always to read you here. I love Monday mornings for the 2 digests they bring me. And I missed YOU last week, as well the other the week BEfore last. Or mayBE it’s just ME staring in that rear view just a little too much…

    I love the way you speak of lonely and loneliness in this word smorgasbord. How aptly you describe its many layers and pockets. How it is NOT always a gift we can SEE as a gift, yet it blesses us just the same.

    It has given me a new pair of glasses to see my own currently NOT-so lonely time in my own company. I suppose having Gracie is a bit of an advantage, and while she does provide me a BEing with which to snuggle on our chair-and-a-half, a ready companion for a walk or spontaneous adventure on which she is ALWAYS happy to go with me and wait in the car while I DO whatever, she doesn’t quite fill the bill in some of the other ways that, surely, I imagine another WOULD.

    I DO often think that my stretch of solo living has been and continues to BE how I am discovering ME, I also have had the awareness of its possible intentions BEyond just that self-awareness. You have given me something new upon which to ponder quietly today, and in the week that stretches out before me.

    Here’s one thing I have discovered from reading YOU: lonely is less a reality than an acknowledgement of something within that needs sustenance and encouragement. It is NOT a punishment nor is it a sentence. It is just lonely or loneliness, a unique combination of thoughtsandfeelings that teach me that my feeling I’m all on my own and my do-it-myself approach [or retreat as I often play the victim in these scenarios] are there in the midst while actually a greater view is simply unseen by me, YET…

    Thanks for such a gift this Monday morning…

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