Recently I was at a very large gathering of men and women around the US and abroad who deeply care about many similar things I care about. I love much of their work. But as I sat in the opening session and listened to the music and the prayers and the language and the rah-rah I felt this overwhelming sense of deep, weird, in-my-bones loneliness. In the past, the “container” would have really resonated. I would have liked the songs and the wow and the excitement and God moving through people at the same time. It used to be our zone. However, try as I might, I just couldn’t connect. I felt irritable, “off”, not-able-to-be-present-no-matter-how-much-I-wanted-to-be-open.
“Even here,” I thought, “I am no longer a part in the same way. And damn, that sucks.”
It has nothing to do with them. They are wonderful and everyone else seemed to really be resonating, which was beautiful to see.
Me, I just wanted to cry.
I miss being part of a tribe in the way I was used to for so long.
As I talked to my husband at length about it (because he was feeling it, too), I kept coming back to the same reality–Faith shifting stuff is so freaking lonely.
It’s just lonely.
Sure, over the years I have found all kinds of ways to forge new relationships and develop an incredible network of allies, advocates, collaborators, and dear and faithful friends. There’s no question that without them (and you!), I wouldn’t still be here today.
I am extremely grateful for the different networks, online forums, refuge community, and stealth conversations at coffee shops about the realities of an unraveling that have sustained me over the years.
But what I haven’t found since I exited all-that-was-once-familiar is find a place in a wider tribe where I 100% feel like I belong.
I get bits and pieces, little snippets of love and connection, but it’s always in some weird, off-to-the-side way.
There are parts I resonate with, there are parts I don’t.
I think that’s normal and healthy, actually, and that’s what can feel confusing. I know it’s good to not be “all in” in some kind of nutty way anymore. At the same time, there is something to be said for a strong alignment with what a group or organization is about. It helps to feel that mo-jo, that juice, that “I’m so in the right place” feeling.
That’s why so many of the online Facebook groups and blogs and forums have been life-saving-ly helpful to countless men and women because it’s a place where people speak our language and share similar stories.
It helps us feel less alone.
It helps us feel less crazy.
It helps us keep going.
But online and real life are two different things, and it’s nice to be with flesh and blood, eye to eye, heart to heart in a wider community, too.
While I’m grateful for many of these kinds of in-real-life relationships, I just felt like acknowledging today that even with them, I still continue to feel a sense of loss and loneliness.
It’s hard to be “out” of the tribe.
To become outsiders.
To long for a new kind of connection to the wider story.
To feel a little like a loser in a world that thrives on winning.
I agree 100% with Dorothy Day’s famous words–“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”
It’s why we need others who understand the same loneliness, too.
It’s one of the reasons I’m still in.
But it’s still not the easiest thing to do or find and I wanted to acknowledge that today.
You’re not alone in your loneliness.
It’s tricky in all kinds of odd ways that are often hard to explain.
It’s hard to explain because why would we miss a system or group that we don’t resonate with anyway?
It’s hard to explain because so much is an internal process and we sort of look the same on the outside (although in my case, with a lot more gray hairs and wrinkles!) and often others don’t know what’s swirling inside our heads and hearts.
It’s hard to explain because often no one really asks in the first place.
Yeah, faith shifting often includes a great loneliness.
You’re not crazy. And you’re not alone.
That’s all I wanted to say today.
Love from Colorado, kathy