Dear Lonely Mom,
There were so many days that I sat on the couch, nursing a cup of coffee that was reheated for the third time, just watching all my little kids play around me. I was surrounded by amazing people. My beautiful tiny children (since I didn’t have teens at that point). But as I held my coffee, legs bent under me, half curled into the over sized chair, I felt alone. Completely alone.
I know you have days like that too. You love your family, your children and your friends and family. But when you sit in the quiet, when the commotion pauses for a minute- it is then that you feel it the most. Loneliness.
It’s such a hollow feeling. As you sit there, it is so easy to allow your thoughts to either drift into numbness or drift into sorrow. Imagining how a thousand things, or a thousand choices, could have made this moment better. What if _____________, then maybe this day wouldn’t feel this way.
And then the thoughts fall like dominoes.
First, its loneliness, then sorrow, then disappointment. You start to list disappointment in your mind. Why didn’t she do this? Or he say that? Why doesn’t he ever ______? Will our marriage ever get stronger, or just weaker? Why do I constantly fail?
Oh I know you think it. I know its in there. I know it is. Your phrases might be different, but they are in there.
They are poison to your heart and mind.
IF YOU CONTINUE TO THINK LIKE THAT, TO ALLOW YOURSELF TO GO THERE,
YOU WILL SLOWLY DRAG YOURSELF DOWN. DEEP DEEP DOWN,
BEFORE YOU KNOW IT- YOUR LONELINESS WILL BECOME SORROW, THEN DISAPPOINTMENT, THEN BITTERNESS.
Then your joy will be sucked out of you.
I challenge you, lonely mom, to try these 5 things. Push yourself. Maybe just one at first, eventually two. But you have to choose it.
1-Get up early.
I know you are tired. I’m tired some days too. Raising children, sleepless nights, behavior meltdowns, busy schedules. I know. But I promise, this I have learned. You can NOT pour from an empty cup. You CAN go through the motions on an empty cup– but you really don’t want that. Rise early. Maybe just a half hour. Rising early will begin to refill YOUR cup. Yes, some days you will be foggy, that’s ok. Start the habit. Rise early, pour a cup of coffee, grab a quick snack to munch, sit in your favorite spot with your Bible or journal and start. Starting your day filling your mind with Truth over your own emotions will help refill your cup. It might seem slow, but it will refill you over time.
2-Write a note of encouragement to someone.
Did you know when you are lonely and depressed studies have shown that you can NOT receive joy from others when they smile at you? Normally, when someone smiles at you, you smile back. You receive their joy and reciprocate it. When you are lonely and depressed, you can’t. Their smile falls flat on you. You see it, but you don’t feel it. This creates a pattern of isolation and disconnected relationships. So, the second thing you can do to conquer loneliness, is to begin to write notes of kindness and encouragement to others. This intentional act of kindness, while you are feeling down, is a way to repair that lonely bridge you have built. You begin to shift your thoughts OFF yourself and onto someone else in a positive way. This wisdom has been around for ages, King Solomon wrote about it in Proverbs 11:25 “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed”
3-Invite someone over.
Grab your calendar and start calling people, or email them if you don’t feel like talking. Invite them over!!!! Just do it. Stop telling your self those thoughts that they are too busy or don’t want to hang with your crazy crew. Just invite them. Our family started the tradition of Fun Friday. (do you know why?- because I KNEW we needed more fun and I just wasn’t feelin’ it as a mom. I was down and stuck in my own head) So I started contacting people I knew, and I began to ask them which Friday they were available to come over for pizza and backyard playtime. I made the evening family friendly so ALL of us built friendships. Simple food. No fuss. Paper plates. We made wonderful memories as a family. It changed me, my heart, my mind, and built new friendships.
4-Communicate with your spouse.
Ok, I know, you’re thinking- REALLY? How does THAT help loneliness. Loneliness breads disconnected relationships, and it also breads spiraling thoughts. Many of your spiraling thoughts are probably towards your husband. Let’s face it, everyone is an un-perfect human. We ALL make mistakes. And we already KNOW that. But when we have spiraling thoughts from loneliness, we begin to increase negative thoughts about ourselves AND our spouse. THAT DOES NO GOOD. There is nothing beneficial to your marriage or your loneliness in that. So start communicating more. If you want to plan a date night for that too, then awesome- some people cherish their date nights at their favorite ice cream spot! My husband and I gave up “date nights”, as most people see them, 15 years ago. Why spend more money going out, paying a sitter for one night, when we could train our kids to go to bed early and enjoy our own home in peace and quiet EVERY night!!! So we did just that. Our kids have a very early bed time, and every night we have time to talk, share our frustrations, our emotions, our dreams, our big ideas, or just zone out and eat a huge bowl of ice cream with peanut butter and fudge on top. Honest communication protects your marriage AND it pulls your thoughts our of isolation. When your best friend is your spouse it’s hard to feel lonely.
5-Start your day listening to your favorite worship song- everyday.
When you listen to something over and over, it helps you remember it for days and weeks to come. Loneliness is more than being by yourself. Loneliness is a state of mind. You can be all alone and very content, OR you can be surrounded by people and feel lonely. Loneliness isn’t about number of people- it’s about emotions. So FILL UP YOUR MIND with Truth and good things, so that there is less room for junk. Don’t choose some everyday radio song- that’s fluff. You need some meat and potatoes in that brain of yours. Your brain will grow from ingraining joy-filled words from a song you love. Put some pep in your step- choose a song that makes you smile AND that is loaded with Truth.