Alone. As I sit in a crowded room of people, I can’t help but feel a deep longing for intimacy. I am surrounded by people I call friends, but yet I have never felt more alone and unknown in my life. Now that is mostly on me, because I have blocked people out and pushed them away. Why? I was afraid. Afraid, of the thing I desired most: intimacy.
Denver. Moving out here was the best decision I have ever made. But moving here has also been one of the hardest and most challenging experiences I have endured in my life. When I made the decision to move, I made the decision to leave comfort, to leave lifelong friends and to leave family. The intimacy through friendships and relationships that I experienced daily was all but gone. The comfort in being known had left.
When I got to Denver, I quickly adjusted to the transient life. I was going out and meeting new people, snowboarding and exploring every part of the city and mountains that I could. The issue I faced though, was that I was reaching for these things to fill a void. I wanted these activities to fill the hurt and pain of missing my family and friends. I slowly pushed the pain and hurt to the side until I forgot about it. Eventually, I had completely shut out the pain and hurt. What I didn’t realize though was that in shutting off one emotion, I shut off all of my emotions. You see, we can not pick and choose what emotions we feel. (Brown) As we begin to numb ourselves in response to pains that we have felt, we put up walls. These walls help us protect ourselves from pain, but these walls can also block us from feeling joy, love and intimacy among other emotions. As protected as I felt with all my walls up, it stirred up something I had never felt before. Loneliness.
Now, I did not truly realize until a few weeks ago that what I had been feeling this whole time was loneliness. But when I became aware, I realized that I was afraid to have intimate friendships and relationships, because I did not want to feel that pain and hurt again. As a result, it was hard for me to open up and be vulnerable with people.
In that moment, I realized that in order to shake this cycle, I had to be vulnerable. I had to open up and let people know how I was feeling. It was the only way to begin the healing process. I began with praying and telling God what was on my heart.
While praying, I realized how many lies I had been believing about my life. I felt shame for the loneliness I was feeling. I felt the need to be strong when I was leaving for my family and friends. I felt the need to have it all together and so I acted like moving was easy. I felt shameful because I was homesick. It made me feel as if I could not make it our here on my own. For some reason I believed that I needed to be okay all the time.
In reality, God showed me that it was okay to not be okay. He showed me it was okay to not have it all together at twenty-three years old. He told me it was okay to be homesick and to miss my family and friends. He told me that those things did not make me weak, but rather they made me human. He showed me that truth strength comes from being vulnerable. He showed me that in life, we will never grow unless we reach out of our comfort zones. He helped me realize that in order to experience the fullness of this amazing life he has given us; we must be vulnerable. So I started sharing with my friends the things I had been feeling. As I began sharing, I experienced freedom.
“Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it's also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” – Brene Brown
Although I have struggled at times and this transition has been tough, I am so thankful to be in Denver. I am thankful for the challenges that have been thrown my way and am thankful for the growth that has come from said challenges. I am also thankful that God opened my eyes to the cycle of shame I was going through, because in vulnerability, I began to experience intimacy again. In vulnerability, the walls I put up began to come down and healing occurred.
Alone. This time in a house by myself. Yet, I know longer feel alone in this place. I feel known.
(Power of Vulnerability: https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability#t-877360)