slamming the door behind me as though to shut out the world I let out a long, deep sigh. it felt as though a 50lbs sand bag lay on my chest and as the last wisps of air escaped my lips I hoped to shake the weight of it. but there it settled, making it hard to breathe in again. I let my sore back sink into the couch as I looked around the room at all the clutter from my daughter’s birthday, gift bags, a picnic basket, party favors and the diaper bag that had been brought in from the car. “This is how my mind feels” I thought. I had as little motivation to clean the house as I did to process my feelings and clear my head, so I flicked on the tv to binge watch my show. Meteor Garden. It was a silly Chinese drama about college kids that I was only watching to help me learn Mandarin. Or so I told myself. If I’m being completely honest, I’m very invested in the show, but until today I couldn’t have told you why. as I watched the characters interact with each other, each new plot twist revealing how well they knew each other and how much they cared, I felt a lump rise in my throat.
The very show I had hoped would distract me from the load on my heart was bringing it all to the surface again. I usually don’t cry during shows or movies but today it felt therapeutic and I let myself feel every emotion along with those on screen. before I knew it I had reached the end of the series and I stared blankly at the screen, red rimmed eyes, the weight of my tears released and an emptiness in my soul. how I envied these fictional friends, their sense of community, their bond to each other. As I let my mind wander I began to see why I had been so drawn to the program. My life had been filled with a series of obstacles in the way of long term friendships and a lasting sense of belonging. The loneliness had come in waves and this wave had swept me completely out to sea.
The first big wave I could remember was back in 2000. we had been moving every couple of years since I was 3. Arizona, south Dakota, north Dakota. these places and the people in them are like a tiny mist in my memories that playfully whispers now and again. But Minnesota was more like a fog that rolls in out of nowhere and covers all. we had lived there for almost 6 years! a record for our family of five. it had been rough at the start, making friends, adjusting. a lot of my memories there were very traumatic. but I had finally found my group of friends and a sense of home. I had fallen in love with the river and woods in the back yard, the freedom we had to run wild around the whole tiny town. I had three close friends and a few great neighbor kids that enjoyed my company despite being made fun of for hanging out with me at school. and I had a very temperamental cat, that I loved even though she was nuts. and now…my parents were telling me to pack up whatever of mine could fit in one box. the house had been foreclosed on and we had to stay with family in Massachusetts. we only had our van and gas money. we left most our stuff behind, my cat went to stay with my grandmother, our furniture couldn’t fit in the van, I’d never see our treehouse or tire swing or woods again. I’d never swim in blue eagle lake with Marissa or sleep over Veronica’s house. I’d never fish in the river with Simone or sneak over her house to watch movies my parents would never let me see.
when we arrived in MA I was in three different schools in the same year, that year was a blur. I had left the elementary in Barnesville MN for a much bigger middle school (I didn’t even know there was such a thing as middle school until that point, my old town didn’t have one.) while we lived in my aunts basement and our family got back on our feet. once my dad worked up enough for a security deposit I moved to an even bigger middle school- which to me looked like a prison- in the city we had finally settled in. my mom eventually pulled us out of school to homeschool us that year. from age 11 till 13 I struggled with loneliness and depression, until my little group of neighborhood friends started to grow and we formed a worship team. I was starting to feel like I belonged somewhere again. but I was also at an age where boys and girls were thinking of more than just friendships and many of my relationships became too complicated for one reason or another and slowly they fell apart and my little world grew, evolved, and dissipated into smoke. I fell back into depression.
at 16 I met my first serious love interest. Id say boyfriend but I don’t think we ever officially dated due to strict rules in my house. many places or groups of people had allowed me to feel at home but he was the first individual that made me feel that sense of belonging all on his own, which is possibly why I fell so hard for him. I don’t know if it was our similar outlooks or the fact we had the same circle of friends yet hadn’t met… until the day I worked my first Friday at Lazer Gate. how hadn’t we met before? its still baffling to me. I had already been planning to go to a Christian internship program in Texas when I met him. I still regret going (for a few reasons). I almost stayed, just for him, but I had been raised to think with my head and not my heart and when I first met him he seemed fickle. it broke my heart to leave him but I did it.
at the internship we were forbidden to have romantic contact with anyone (the purpose of the internship was to focus on God for a year) which made sense to me then, but seems ridiculous to me now. I vividly remember agonizing over whether to throw out that silly plastic cereal box ring he had given me on the first day we met. I don’t know why I brought it with me. it was heart shaped and meant for a child’s finger but fit me just right. I’m still mad at myself for throwing it away. It was like a little piece of home. My home and my heart are scattered on the winds with the people that have come and gone in my life and I have very little to remember them by since so much has gotten lost in all the moving I had done. the internship promised life long friends and experiences that would stick with you. yet another wave or loneliness hit me when I found just the opposite. I was a January intern and all the august interns had already bonded, they had insides jokes and stories to tell and perhaps my own insecurities and past history too made it hard for me to connect with anyone. it wasn’t long before even the ones I did bond with had graduated and I was with a whole new group of people to try and adjust to.
the one person I did connect with became my boyfriend when I returned to MA. it was a very long distance relationship and I really thought he was the one. but the more I got to know his family and friends, the more alienated I felt from him. In the beginning he had said he would consider moving to where I was to make things work. these people in his life though, they had known him since birth! they were so close, he had lived in the same place his whole life. he had something I could never have. he had roots, he had people who had watched him from square one become who he is today, and stick with him. I wanted to build that for my family…but not in his tiny desert town. could I really pull him away from all he’s ever known? I didn’t want to imagine the bitterness our relationship would be founded on if I made him move for me. that and a few other reasons were why I broke up with him. I’m pretty sure I broke his heart and he didn’t deserve that. very quickly I regretted ever being with him at all.
not long after, I realized how important that first love interest of mine was to me, and he was still in my life since I picked up working at the same place, like I had never left. but life isn’t a movie and I gathered the courage to tell him how I felt only to be shot down….shot down by the only person who has ever felt like home. a lot transpired in a short time and I ended up in a serious relationship with my now husband (Adam). cue the biggest wave yet! it has lasted 5 years. just as things were getting serious my parents told me they were moving across the country. We had already been fighting a lot and I had been doing as much as I could to move out of their place. but even working three jobs I couldn’t afford the tiniest studio apartment and I couldn’t find any reliable roommates to help split rent on a bigger place. I didn’t want to move with my parents and even if I had they never really invited me to. I considered living in my car, but Adam wouldn’t have it. I ended up living in his sister’s house and paying what I could afford for rent. things progressed faster than either Adam or I wanted, I contracted lyme disease, got laid off and his sister could no longer afford to keep me on. I asked around to a few friends to see if I could live with them for awhile. in the end it was decided I’d live with Adam. we got engaged before I moved in (I regret not pushing harder for a justice of the peace before moving in. it was never in my plans to live with someone before marriage.) we worked hard to plan a wedding while trying to get our finances together, we had a date and a venue, I even had the dress. being two humans in love and living together, temptation was strong and mistakes were made. I ended up pregnant before the wedding date!
we rushed the wedding but it was of course too late. the reputation I had tried so hard to build was shattered and my friendships had changed forever. here I was, thrust into adulthood, marriage, parenthood trying to adjust to so many changes and new responsibilities. I didn’t know how to do any of this. all my life I had my family, through every move they had been there, but suddenly they just deposited me on the other side of the continent like spare change. I felt as though I was just the furniture that couldn’t fit in their van from our move in MN. to top it off all my friends had either moved, saw me differently or were dealing with their own problems. I was alone and drowning in all my new roles. I wasn’t even ready to be engaged let alone married with kids. I hadn’t even dated this man very long! what was I doing!? what should I have done?!
I don’t regret how things turned out, I have two gorgeous girls and a fantastic husband. but we still have so much to learn about each other, my attempts to make new friends haven’t been going so well and I mostly don’t have time to do the things I enjoy. I still haven’t learned how to be a good parent and wife and individual all at the same time. so far I can only balance two of those at once. it feels a lot like trying to juggle, too many balls and a few might get dropped. but I don’t know if anyone really has it all together.
when I finished staring at the Netflix menu and processing all this I looked down at my phone and realized I hadn’t responded yet to a message I received that morning. yet another person telling me they couldn’t make it to Eowyn’s party. I had invited most the guests on my list out of a desire to connect with more people. I really didn’t have many I was close to that I knew would come. while I understood as a parent how crazy life was and just how hard it is to keep up with events (I wasn’t mad or offended that so nobody came except family)… I still felt broken and lost. Today I had to remind myself that even those who marry their childhood sweethearts, even those with roots and life long friends feel lonely at times. social media distracts us from real relationships, mistakes and differences put walls between the best of friends, busy schedules can alienate even the most connected. in these dark times we need to remind ourselves we are not alone, God will never leave us. we are not alone, someone out there understands exactly what you are going through. we are not alone, we will find opportunities to reconnect. if you are lonely out there tonight, don’t forget even if people haven’t verbalized it, you are loved by someone. and if God seems silent, imagine him as that friend that comes over just to be in the same room with you and do nothing at all. and perhaps he’s not as quiet as you thought after all. through all my ups and downs he’s been guiding me, talking to me, reminding me: THIS IS NOT MY HOME.
2In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.