This feeling is foreign to me. I haven’t spent enough time with it over the years to discern it, to define it. The distractions of a noise-doused life of busyness and what’s-next anticipation easily hide its soft footsteps through my soul. But loneliness lurks.
I think that I could have predicted most of my feelings. Most of my experiences. Care-taking is not new to humanity. In fact, all of us will either die unexpectedly, give care, or be taken care of (or all of the above.) That’s pretty much the options. Which makes care-taking a nearly universal human experience. Not to mention, if you were ever a baby, you were cared for. I think that about covers it.
But this feeling isn’t one that I know how to contend with. It’s almost unidentifiable for me. Just an empty, unbelonging. By the way, I only try to write about this season because I want to remember it. I have belonged and I will belong again. The again will be sweeter because the unbelonging is recognized and real. I suppose there’s a similar emotion to empty-nesters. A recalibration of relationships. And this wouldn’t be so hard if the past wouldn’t have been so satisfying. There was never a moment of our marriage that I felt empty, displaced, or unseen. Now, I embody them.
My life is not absent of love and attentiveness. I am surrounded by family, friends, those who minister and need ministry. Yet, lately, this unbelonging echo chamber stifles any contentedness of companionship that tries to reinforce kinship. It’s odd to know one thing and to feel another. To logic one, and emote the opposite.
In some ways it’s less about loneliness and more about discovering a new identity. I lay in the beds with my kids at night and talk about love. I sit at the dinner table with my family and inhale life. I share meals, conversations, board games, concerts, car rides, movies, ministry, and being. This dis-ease is confusing. I am not alone. Just lonely.