I feel split in two.
There’s me ‘before’ and me ‘after’, heartache drawing the line between my two halves. Loss and grief lacing the parameters of what sets my worlds apart. I try to contain it, compartmentalize it even but it feels like trying to hold liquid in my hands.
The desire to be fully seen and deeply known is hard to shake. Loneliness pings my heart and intensifies as the night sky darkens. My inner critic arrives as the stars come out reminding me of all the ways I fell short today. I try to quiet the voice, and most days I can, but tonight I’m too tired. My house is so quiet but my head is so loud.
The last time I remember feeling like this was my freshman year of college. I was off on my own for the first time with the world at my fingertips. My expectations of what I thought school would be like were far different than my reality. I stumbled through conversations awkwardly trying to make new friends. It was hard to feel like myself without any familiar anchors keeping me grounded in the deep waters of change. The facade of isolation is a cruel companion. It can make you start to believe things that are untrue and unkind.
The ‘before’ half of me was delightfully naive in many ways. Life felt breezy with many ‘pinch me’ moments and happily ever afters. But I wasn’t complacent either. Having cheated life once before, I understood the weight of living each moment and squeezing your loved ones tight. I danced through most of my days incredibly thankful for a life I could have never imagined. Not every day was rosy and simple but I was there for all of it.
As I sit here now with ‘after’ half of me, there are many things I feel: proud, strong, brave even grateful. But I’d be lying if I left out lonely, sad, frustrated and a little broken. I’m getting better with allowing myself to feel all the feelings no matter how hard or intense they arrive. I sat with lonely and tear soaked cheeks a few nights ago like I have many times before, and a new thought approached me: how lucky I was to know lonely.
‘Before’ me was so deeply and fully loved for exactly who I was. I wasn’t too much or too little. I wasn’t overlooked or under appreciated. I was pursued and treasured, someone’s everything. We can’t know light without darkness. We can’t know happy without sad. We can’t know good without bad. We can’t have peaks without valleys. We can’t know lonely without the other side: love.
It’s a privilege to be loved exactly as you are while being encouraged to continue to step fully into yourself. I know this side of lonely won’t last forever and a new season of love will come. The lonely I’ve sat in for seasons longer than I had hoped for will be replaced again with an all-in kind of love. So for now I’ll thank lonely for the lessons and refinement as I wait with anticipation for the other side.