The Panic of Loneliness
At a recent class I was teaching on PTSD and trauma one of the students responded with one of the bravest, most profound statements I’ve gotten as feedback in a class.
It was all law enforcement officers, and we were discussing the question, “What is something in your own experience you can use to respond to someone in crisis?” It was in the context of, “the best way to open conversation with someone who is vulnerable is to be a little vulnerable yourself.”
A young officer who is a detective at a university replied when it was her turn, “That I’m lonely. I don’t really have any friends, I live alone, I work on a campus full of students and I’m alone.”
Wow! How brave, and how true. Ultimately, the most fatal result of trauma is loneliness. Face anything alone, and eventually your heart, mind, and soul will give over to despair. If you’ve ever felt completely alone, for whatever reason, you can relate to someone who has had trials and traumas completely infect their life with hopelessness.
It got me thinking about the tools I use to avoid loneliness battling my busy travel from home and daily interactions with despair and tragedy. It is a schedule that gives me too much time to revisit my own demons. Thankfully, it wasn’t hard to ponder, I’m able to carry on because I’m not alone, not alone primarily because of my family and my faith.
Family and faith take work though, they aren’t easy and they don’t come without a little personal sacrifice and humility. Especially in today’s world where instant gratification, individualism, and celebrity worship have become our Gods. These false idols and temporal pleasures only lead to one place, loneliness and destruction.
Whether you are young and live in a broken home, or old and lonely, you can build a life of true resiliency. If you can’t build a family, build relationships – one at a time, you have plenty of people around you in need of the same thing, and when it comes to faith, instead looking for what you want to hear, get down on your knees and listen in humility. Learn to fill the void with the silence of repentance and then allow what you find to lead you on a path to faith that fills the hole of loneliness and despair.
Here are a couple of poems I wrote when I was in my deepest despair. You can find them in my book, Who Am I?
Maybe you’ve felt the same way. May they remind you that you are not alone, and that first step toward healing is worth the struggle.
Alone by Silouan Green
A hose in my yard
Did not move
As the rain fell
And the grass grew
Taller the blades
Reached for the sky
That they may not die
And the hose
The Panic of Loneliness by Silouan Green
Nothing more than flesh
A body born to die
Put a bullet in my head
And I won’t be afraid
When I close my eyes