My first revelation was that at the center of loneliness was desire. It was a powerful longing for love. And yet, I had learned that that kind of longing was unattractive. I was told that I should stop looking for love and that it would “happen when I least expected it”. I told myself that I better stop wanting things because not getting them made me feel desperate, pathetic, and disappointed. I told myself that I was too old, too ugly, and just too late for love, and then I told myself that love wasn’t real anyway (given the divorce rate). I tried anything and everything to get me to stop wanting love. Nothing worked. I continued to feel lonely.
One day, I was at the beach with my crush and my crush’s new girlfriend. As they snuggled together on the shore, I morosely wandered into the waves, feeling lost in a haze of loneliness and frustrated desire. Suddenly, I decided that instead of fighting off my yearning, I was going to try and open up to it. With each wave that crashed over my head, I called out a new desire. “I want the dress I saw on 5th Avenue,” I started. Crash. “I want to be pretty.” Crash. “I want real love.” Crash. Instead of feeling depressed or lonely, opening up to each desire felt liberating. It felt strong and brave and exciting. Nothing guaranteed I would get these things, but just saying them felt almost as good. Within loneliness is a deep and powerful desire to connect. Trying to get rid of it won’t help. Opening up to the longing will.