You'd think, being someone who has always been surrounded by people, I'd never have experienced isolation. When my parents brought me home from the hospital, they brought me to a home that already inhabited four children. Four children who would shelter, protect, love, and torment me for the next 18 or so years.
Seven years after Mom and Dad brought me home they came home with a squirmy little baby, who turned out to be my sweet little brother. I was not thrilled, first of all that he was there and I was no longer the baby, but mostly because if I had to be replaced, I wanted a sister so we could be like the Brady Bunch. But no, Isaac was a boy and we girls were officially outnumbered.
All that to say that I never experienced the only child thing. I've never been a social outcast. Different, yes, but never outcast. I've always had loving friends and healthy connections.
I can't say that I've ever been lonely, in the sense that I want more people around me, ever. I love to be alone. But, like most people, I do hate to feel alone.
You know, like, the alone that makes you feel like you're the only person in the world like you, but not in the Mr. Rogers special feeling kind of way.
I wasn't connected with people who were like me, or at least that's what I told myself, and somehow that discredited the actual connections I did have.
Mostly, I was starving to be recognized. I wanted to recognize myself in someone else. It took me a while to realize that my personal beliefs were the only thing holding me back from meaningful connection--aside from that with a small handful of people.
The trouble is...my calling demands that I flood that dam and be willing to connect with people in a widespread meaningful way, and not just from the protection of the page.
Over Thanksgiving I dropped the news that I'm going to be ordained as an Interfaith Minister on my family. Now, understand, I was fearful of what would be said, and most of all I was afraid that they would be scared for me given the way religion was approached throughout my childhood. I didn't want to cause anyone any measure of discomfort. But after a couple of theology questions and a couple of honest answers, they surprised me with their response of excitement and support.
Shock and awe. This fed me a huge dose of humility. I mean, I'd been experiencing agony and anxiety for a good 6 months. From the moment I realized that I'd need to tell them what I was up to. And I'd brought it all on myself.
Then something amazing happened on the long drive home. AMAZING, people!
In the place of that criticizing voice that usually said things to me like, "You idiot, why did you do that to yourself? Now they think you think you're better than them. You weren't loving enough. Look at all the time you lost! How could you have let your ego run wild? You have to do better," was a voice that said, "You just didn't know. No harm done. I love you. They love you. You're doing so well."
I weep. This is breakthrough.
Something strange has been happening these past couple of weeks that the past few years have been leading up to. When I look in the mirror I see myself. Not just my body. I see myself through the eyes of Love.
I mean, I've been hearing and thinking about how self-love is the way to everything and blah, blah, blah. It just wasn't a reality for me in a tangible way, then 12 months ago I started putting it into real practice. Every month I've had more to give to others, more peace, more love, more everything because I practiced boundaries and simple self care--mind, body and soul.
And suddenly, I see how un-alone I have been, and that what I needed all along was self-recognition.
Please understand that when you recognize yourself, you are recognizing God, Spirit, the divine. There is always a piece of the creator in the created. It is the nature of things.
When we recognize ourselves as carriers of divinity, not only do we love ourselves more, but we also recognize that others are also carriers of divinity and are innately deserving of the same love, even if, in our opinion, they are living against that divine nature.
Knowing this in the mind is easy, but truly understanding requires practice and devout commitment to a way of life.
It all starts with a simple question: "What do I need right now?"
And then an action, that might be difficult at first: give yourself what you need.
When you do this over and over and over and over you're creating an environment within yourself that is conducive to more creation, more love, more energy, and a better ability to address the situations you face and then release them.
It is a good thing for everyone.
Seriously. Two steps:
"What do I need?" Ask it deeply. See beyond the obvious answers. Listen to the voice of wisdom that rises up from within you.
Then give yourself what you need.
Now -- Go do it.
This has the capacity to break down all sorts of long standing barriers, mostly, those that stand between yourself and your true nature. Once you access your true nature, that isolated feeling, or whatever it is that you're carrying around will fall like the house of cards that it is, revealing a landscape yet undiscovered.
Amazing things are on the other side, baby.
Wanna chat about it? Send me a message or leave a comment!
Anna Turner is the woman behind Little Hearth. She's an ordained interfaith minister, a writer, a believer in purposeful living and healing, a perpetual student, and a full time feminist mother.