It’s kind of surprising that even when you are surrounded by adoring people who don’t want to be without you for a second – even when you’re in the bathroom – you can feel lonelier than you’ve felt in your life. There are few things that are as lonely as having someone constantly demand your time and attention without giving any indication that they realize that you are, in fact, a human being with feelings and hopes and dreams. Add to that the silence of naptimes and the lack of mature conversation – or any conversation – for hours at a time, and sometimes the isolation of young motherhood can be nearly unbearable.
But no matter how powerless you may feel in your loneliness, you can fight back. Here are some ideas to help you reconnect — to yourself, to your family, and to others.
1. Reach out. To someone else. Even something as simple as sending a text to a friend can help you feel less alone. And thinking of someone else who may need someone to talk to as much as you do will get you out of your own mind and misery.
2. Reach in. To yourself. Give yourself time – and space – to do something you love. That may mean closing the door and ignoring a crying – but safe! – baby for a few minutes. Indulge in a quick leg-shave, read a chapter from a good book, make yourself your favorite sandwich (and then sit down and eat it without sharing a bite).
3. Reach down. To your kids. Amidst all the demands and the flitting around and the incessant babbling, it’s easy to lose the fact that what the kids really want is your attention. Giving them some of it – undivided and whole-heartedly – can turn them from little mind-sucking monsters into little friends. Get down on the floor with them and remind yourself that even if they haven’t yet realized that you are human, you still remember that they are.
4. Reach up. To the heavens. Say a little prayer, ask for help to get through the next hour, or the afternoon, or the day. Talk like you are talking to a friend. It may be the closest thing you can have to an adult conversation, and it’ll help to feel someone else on your side.
Loneliness can feel debilitating and insurmountable, but it is within your power to give it the boot: all you have to do is lose track of yourself. If you can do that, loneliness won’t be able to find you, either.