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No Man is an Island: We need each other!




I’ve always been a bit of an introverted loner. Rather than being lonely when I have time to myself, alone time has always been heavenly for me. I enjoy getting lost in my head, or being creative…sometimes with the written word, sometimes with paint, or even photography….I can spend hours alone having a blast. I kind of thought I could live a hermit lifestyle for most of my life, that I really didn’t “need” social interaction. I was wrong. As I aged and matured I began to realize I liked being alone so much partly because alone was “safe.” If I didn’t let anyone in too close I wouldn’t get hurt. At least, that was my rationalization.

I began to realize, also, that I DID actually want to be connected to people. I wanted friends, I wanted to be known and cared about. But I arrived at a place in my life where I wasn’t. I wasn’t really known, and I wasn’t really cared about. I had spent so much time alone, that no one truly knew me. Sure, I had lots of acquaintances….and quite a few friends. But even my friends didn’t really know me well. They didn’t know my hobbies and interests, or my favorite songs. They didn’t know the intricate details of me or my life. When I realized this, suddenly I felt kind of lonely. I was in close connection with many people, but in spite of that I was still very alone.

What happened, I know now, is that I was so afraid of being rejected or unwanted by people, that I never gave anyone the chance to reject me or express their lack of interest. I went through life like a little butterfly, flitting around here and there, never landing anywhere for long. It was safer that way. I would take flight anytime someone tried to reach out to me, or catch me in their grasp. I was content delighting in the flowers of life, tasting a little nectar here and there, but never making a home anywhere. That worked for some time. But after a while, that didn’t work anymore. What I didn’t know is that I needed connection. I needed to be loved. I’m only human, and we all need those things.

I have become a huge fan of the work of Dr. Brené Brown, who is very well known in the field of social work for studying aspects of human relationships. Dr. Brown promotes the idea that vulnerability is directly tied to the ability to connect with others. We guard ourselves against betrayal and hurt by emotionally isolating ourselves, but in doing so we prevent ourselves from connecting at all. Another thing we do to “guard” ourselves is to numb our pain. We don’t want to feel discomfort, so we don’t. The problem with that, as Brown says, is that we cannot selectively numb emotions (2012). When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions. In essence, we numb our joy and pleasure simultaneously with our pain. We can’t feel joy, or love, or pain. We just don’t feel anything. What is the point of life if we are walking through it apathetic and oblivious to the pleasures of it? We must choose to be brave and face the world head on, whatever may come. Pain, love, joy….we have to FEEL whatever comes our way. We have to choose to be transparent, real, and vulnerable in order to have true, valuable relationships with others and fully live our lives. Vulnerability takes courage, but it is the only way to be true to ourselves and to also have healthy, loving relationships. A challenge for those of us who have been deeply wounded in relationship, certainly, since “the promise of closeness often evokes fear of getting hurt, betrayed, and abandoned,” (van der Kolk 2014, p. 215). But it is not insurmountable. Healing starts with a decision to live a vulnerable life before others. Start there, one step at a time. You will be glad you did!

According to van der Kolk, being connected into a good support network is the most powerful protection against traumatization and for healing (2014). “Traumatized human beings recover in the context of relationships with families, loved ones, AA meetings, veterans’ organizations, religious communities, or professional therapists,” (van der Kolk 2014, p. 212). Vital aspects of these connections are physical and emotional safety, and freedom from shame and judgement (sounds a little like unconditional love, doesn't it?). Van der Kolk’s research demonstrates the necessity of loving connections for healing. In order to change and heal, people need to experience the opposite of what they were wounded by (van der Kolk 2014). Instead of fear, neglect, rejection, and pain, they need to be viscerally immersed in safety, connection, acceptance, and happiness.


Wounds are what break open the soul to plant the seeds of a deeper growth,” but those wounds will fester if left undressed (Voskamp 2016, p. 26). Wounds let in wisdom, but wisdom alone will not heal them. In other words, pain needs love to heal. Only in being connected with others can we be loved. In isolation we can never be whole or fully healed because emotional wounds need a loving connection to soothe them into oblivion. In a loving connection, “somehow love can lodge light into wounds,” (Voskamp 2016, p. 26). Love shines light into the darkness and brings all things hidden into sight. Only love, perhaps, can heal our wounds.


Love heals all wounds


"Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." ~ 1 John 4:7-8

"No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." ~ John 4:9-12

God is Love=God heals all wounds.


REFERENCES:


Brown, Brené. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. Random House Publishing, 2017.


Brown, Brené. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. New York City, NY: Gotham, 2012.

Brown, Brené. Rising Strong: The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution. Random House Publishing, 2015


Godwin, Kristi, Dr. Healing Beyond Trauma, Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2018.

Van der Kolk, B.A. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Viking Press, 2014. Voskamp, Ann. The Broken Way: a daring path into the abundant life. Zondervan, Michigan. 2016.

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