Thoughts by Richard Bleil
These posts are a bit ahead. By the time this one actually published, we will be just a few days away from Valentine’s Day. I just want my readers to know that, no, I’m not okay.
But that’s okay.
Chances are that you have friends and loved ones who struggle with Valentine’s Day. I like to write posts to remind people to think about those special people in their lives. Today I think I’m going to write about how to take care of those who are struggling.
I have no idea where I’m going with this post tonight. I want to ask that you give the lonely space but don’t distance yourself. I know, it sounds confusing.
Some people seem to be born to be alone. I know that’s how I feel. Let’s be honest here; my loneliness is a prison of my own building. I’ve always been an outcast and a social idiot. The last date I had was with my then-girlfriend, over a year ago. Before that, I hadn’t dated since my divorce four years before that.
I think that, honestly, a big part of it is that I’m trying to protect myself. If I don’t let anybody get close to me, then nobody can emotionally abuse me. Yes, women can be narcissistic abusers as well. The problem is that every time somebody hurts you, you become just that much more defensive. A new means of being hurt means a new landmine to protect against.
You know, it’s an interesting point. I’m alone because I’ve been hurt, and now I’m afraid of being hurt. I wonder if this is a common reason that people are as alone as I am. I can tell you from experience that on holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, I spend a lot of time thinking about my past failures, my plethora of mistakes, my multitude of missed opportunities, every woulda-shoulda-coulda from well over fifty years of heartbreak. That’s a lot of failure.
I’m guessing that your lonely loved ones are facing that same mountain. In your defense, I know that you want to help. You don’t like seeing someone you love struggle with this any more than they want to be going through it.
So, you don’t want to see them going through it, and they don’t want to have to go through it, so what do we do about it?
Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done about it. If you push too hard, you’ll simply push your loved one away. That certainly wouldn’t do anybody any good.
I don’t understand this journey that people like me have to go through. I don’t think that anybody does. Heck, if somebody did know, then there would be a lot of people who can be emotionally healed and somebody would be exceptionally wealthy after selling the secret.
The first thing that you can do for your struggling loved one is to keep loving that person. They’ll push you away, and that’s okay, but don’t let them push you more than an arm’s length from you. It’s an interesting thing. You can’t help if somebody chooses to push you away, but that doesn’t mean that you have to walk away from them. Give them their space when they need it but let them know that you’ll be there when they need you.
While we’re at it, be careful not to push them away either. The easiest way to lose a struggling lonely loved one is to be judgmental. I’ve had far too many people tell me what is wrong with me, and the one thing that they all have in common is that I’m over them. Trust me, I beat myself up a lot on my very own. You don’t have to beat me up; I beat myself up enough already.
I remember when my friend and his then-girlfriend set me up on a date in high school with her friend. They said I should just be myself. But don’t wear my cowboy boots. And don’t button my shirt the way I always do. And don’t tell any jokes.
This is not acceptance, and worse than that it’s judgmental. All too often, I’ve heard sentences that begin with something along the lines of “you’re only alone because…” Such a sentence cannot end without criticism.
It’s Valentine’s Day just around the corner. Be happy. Everybody deserves to be happy. Do something special for that special someone. Don’t let those of us who are alone tarnish your special day. Just be aware that others are not as happy. Try to avoid being too boastful, or too expressive with your affection. Give the lonely space but be there when they are ready.
We’ll be ready. Someday.