In a session with The Keyholder, she asked about loneliness and what I do when I feel lonely. I replied back very confidently,
”I don’t allow it.”
Her face had that look that indicated I had said something profound, and her slight grin indicated a playfulness guarded by a professional demeanor. Channeling her inner Tyler Durden, she shot back, “So how’s that working for you?”
I told her, “Very well, I might add.”
I didn’t see the truck that was about to hit me, but I was blindsided by a force that I had avoided for years. Let me see if I can outline the impact.
I describe my childhood as lonely. I lived out in a rural area 15 miles from school and any potential friends that would serve as playmates. As a result, I developed at a young age a keen ability to be alone. I retreated to my imagination for help in passing the time. I taught myself how to build things, shoot things, catch things, and even cook things. I relied on my creativity at age 12 to deal with loneliness and that skill has stayed with me at my current age of 58.
So is there a downside to this part of the story? What’s my point? It sounds like I was a clever child.
Clever, yes. There was more underneath it.
Scared? Yes. Sad? Yes. Lonely? Absolutely.
I grew up learning to survive, but I didn’t know what it meant to thrive. I didn’t know what to look for. I didn’t know certain conditions were even possible. Being alone was the safest place I knew, I told Loneliness to leave me alone. And she did.
In that session with The Keyholder, her curiosity plied me with questions regarding why I didn’t allow loneliness. Bluntly, I said back, “because I don’t want to start drinking to chase her away again.”
These last two years have been marked with epiphany and apocalypse. The Lights are coming on and the Truth is standing in the doorway. Both are asking me permission to come in and set up shop, but I’m hesitant because I like the house a little dark. My eyes hurt from the new luminescence.
The Keyholder gave me a simple way of reframing my thought process. She asked me to consider Loneliness as a companion, as an actual person that has my best interest in mind. She said, “What if Loneliness doesn’t lead to despair? What if she was walking you along a frightening path that leads to a place of spacious freedom?”
This is why she is the Keyholder. She unlocks these hidden places so I can move about unbound and unrestrained.
This explains why the last few weeks have been some of the hardest in my grief recovery. I am allowing myself to be with Loneliness at her invitation to come sit with her. She wants to talk about hard things that I have shut out for years. But I can see in her eyes that she has only my best interest in mind. She assures me that she is here to make me prosper and that I will emerge a richer man.
She also tells me that her work is temporary. She has no intent on moving in. She just wants to clean the house so that Joy and Peace have a nice place to live.
3 Replies to “Making Room For Loneliness”
Chef Kevin, what great insight into feelings, but also what great reframing of what your reality is. I am truly inspired by your blogs. Thanks for continuing to write.
Chef Shinn, I passed 11 years this September 28th when suddenly I was no longer a we , but became only a me. I feel your feelings, but I can only add, I will only speak to loneliness when I am approaching the holidays, I actually think I identify with the Grinch, but only in his reason for becoming the grinch (again loneliness). Loneliness is not someone I will ever sit down with for very long. I have happy memories of days spent in the Bread & Cup, speaking casually with Karen, eating brunch, or your fantastic bread and rolls. She is still part of my “prop-me-up inspiration” for my cancer, and I will continue to thank her for her that. So, although it is sad for you to remember long ago times, it is part of my happier memories after I became “just me”. I wish you much peace the rest of the year. And hope that next year will become a continuance of that peace.
Kevin, I am glad to hear about your book! I, unfortunately, will not be able to attend the book signing as my daughter is getting her second chemo session and also taking the pump home and will need my help. I did call the bookstore and they are going to ship a copy to me after the signing. I am sorry to miss the signing. I’m sure it will be a huge success. Thank you for the inspiration you share with so many.
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