Isolation is one of the great illnesses in this world that has infected so many of us. I know that isolation is one of my great struggles in life, and I continue to try to heal this in my life. I know that isolation is a reality of suffering that many people live constantly on a daily basis. Sometimes isolation happens simply because of the circumstances of our individual life and we wonder how we got to that place and may feel uncertain how to find more friendship and love. Additionally, there are elements in our society that we have to use carefully, such as social media, so that they do not completely replace face-to-face and heart-to-heart human interaction.
Other times, we impose isolation upon ourselves as punishment for our mistakes or, in extreme cases, for even daring to breathe. We tell ourselves the lie that no one wants to know us, no one can handle "the real me"-all of our sorrows and weaknesses. And, indeed, we may not know anyone immediately surrounding us that can show us that kind of love, acceptance, and companionship. They may be walking around in their armor of isolation also.
Many of us are waiting for someone to find us, and it is a long, lonely wait. There is something that each of us can do so that we don't have to wait any longer. There is a very special action that is available to you so that you can heal your isolation and no longer be alone. It is: to reach out.
Instead of waiting for someone to find you, it is completely permissible to go and find someone. You don't have to be perfect before you reach out. You simply do it. Yes, it will take a great deal of courage. I trust that you will gather that courage.
Reaching out doesn't mean that you become perfect in all your relationships, become the life of the party, or even find a best friend (you may or may not). Reaching out is a simple, concrete action to take-a spark, a seed, a beginning. Don't worry so much where it may or may not lead. Be willing to see what happens.
A time when I chose to reach out in my life truly blessed me. During a time of deep struggles and darkness in my life, I spent a lot of energy attempting to hide how awful I felt, how alone I felt, how out of control I was. I kept trying to change without much success. Setting goals and other similar 'changing' techniques didn't help me. I wanted to change by myself and on my own, in a hurry, before anyone noticed that I was a mess (too late; the only person I was fooling was myself). One day when I was thinking through all of this, and suffering and hating myself, it came into my mind and heart very strongly that I just didn't want to be alone any more. I was glad I was able to realize that. But as I contemplated reaching out, I felt very scared. It was easier in some ways to just stay as I was. But I also hungered for being able to be vulnerable and accepted by others. Even though it wasn't easy the first time, I still chose to reach out. At that time, I chose to connect with a 12-step group. I had confidence in that program and in the people I would find there. I believed that they would understand my struggles. And I was right. For the next couple of years, meeting with that group and getting to know those people and their journeys of struggle and healing was the highlight of my week and it added peace to my life and helped me to move forward in my life. (I'll disclose that I never even quite managed to move through the 12 steps, but just the reality of ending my isolation was lifting and healing.)
How can you reach out? Maybe there are people you already love but it has been a long time since you connected. Reach out and call, email, skype, or visit. You can reach out by looking for groups in your school, church or community that you can join or participate in for enjoyment. You can reach out by finding ways to help someone else or volunteering, especially to make a difference in a child's life. Reaching out may be pausing to have a chat with your neighbor instead of rushing by. Reaching out may be just admitting to someone who you know already accepts you, "I feel really alone in a particular problem of my life and need some extra support." Reaching out may mean going to the park and people watching and saying hi and smiling to people and being open to any interaction that may arise.
Please don't accept the lie you may be telling yourself that isolation is what you deserve. Please don't wait for someone to find you. Reach out, end your isolation, and give a gift to someone who is still waiting to be found. The person who is going to find them-is YOU.