Recently, my son and I were out standing in front of our home on the sidewalk and we met a young Mom from our neighborhood walking her dog and with her toddler backpacked along for the adventure. We started talking and I immediately remembered the loneliness of those moments of motherhood. These three were such a happy scene to behold but the deeper aspects of suffering were right there for me in the mother’s eyes. This super aware Mom and I actually openly discussed maternal loneliness and I told her to please stop by when she was out walking. If only for a few moments, I made sure she knew I was happy to hold her in an authentic space as she journeyed.
Although my child is now 6 years old and lovely to talk to, I still miss companionship with adult company. My husband is a surgical resident and gone a lot. When he is here, he is exhausted and my child is better at demanding his scraps of energy and attention than I ever will be. And so again, the loneliness creeps in. It is so much better than it was when my own child was a toddler but still the weight of loneliness is there.
As a society we don’t often talk about the Shadow Lands of Motherhood. All advertising dollars are spent to make sure that culturally no one sees any of it. It took thousands of deaths for our culture to begin to even have a conversation around postpartum fragility. And now, it seems that public conversation has simply turned lamely into Pharma “solutions”. What if the threat of isolation doesn’t end in the 4th trimester? Today I am writing to say that maternal/paternal loneliness is real and there is no pill strong enough to mask it. Loneliness deserves our attention. It may sound simple but just realizing that my loneliness deserves my awareness and my tenderness has helped me experience and move through it.
What I am wondering now is how do we better support each other in the journey? How do we experience our loneliness so that we emerge stronger and healthier rather than it eating us or further isolating us? How can we do a better job of forming community around ourselves and others? How do we ask for support when we need it?
I am journeying these questions myself and will write more as I discover. Today it felt like enough to simply pose the awareness and the questions.
Heather Kim, DO
4 thoughts on “Loneliness”
So so so on point. I have struggled with this majorly and still do. I find it hard putting myself out there to find friends in fear of being judged or even just that simple fact that it can be exhausting trying to make friends. But like you said it is very much needed for adults to socialize with each other and have adult conversations.
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I really needed to read this today. Thank you! I look forward to hearing follow up posts on this subject.
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This post came at such an exact time. My child is about to turn 6. My family recently moved to a new region of the country where we have never been before and where we do not know a single person. My husband is in the military and only a few months after we arrived he had to leave on a deployment for 7 months. We had to rush and find a place to live and hastily move in just in time for him to leave. So I was left to learn about and how to get around this new place with my child. It’s been a couple of months that he has been gone and the loneliness has really been hitting me right now. This is not my first rodeo as they say when it comes to deployments but it is the first with the situation I am in. In the past I have been established in where I was living, had my social circle, a job, didn’t have children, etc. But this definitely has been the most difficult one. We moved from San Antonio which was our last duty station. That is where I found you. After living there 2 years and just when we were getting settled in with a comfortable routine and nice social circle, we had to unexpectedly move.
As a military dependent I have learned how to make friends and find that type of support wherever I am but the dynamics around me now have made it a lot more difficult this time around. I can relate very much to what you are saying.
Thank you for sharing your post. I wish I could’ve met you when we were still in SATX.
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Yesssssss. There is something just simply beautiful in admitting that we feel the loneliness. Sometimes I refuse to acknowledge it because we still have 3 more years of training to go. (And, I don’t want my husband to feel more guilty than he already does.) I also try to avoid feeling lonely because I still hold a totally false belief that if I let myself feel these tougher feels, I will fall into a pit of despair and not get out. But that is no longer true. Mostly because I am part of a bad A community of mothers (in person and via the web!!) who would give a kidney for each other. I am loved and supported. If I asked for attention, community and Love it would be there in some form. My best friend lives 2k miles away but as soon as I wrote this article I immediately sent it to her because I do need her and I miss her like crazy. Thank you so much for reading and taking the risk to comment. What you are doing is HARD AF. I see you woman.