I grew up with a wonderful family, fell in love at 18 and got married at 22. For all of my adult life I have been in love with a wonderful man who has blessed me with friendship, companionship and love. I’m so grateful. Holidays, even the small ones where you have a Monday off of work and aren’t really sure why, were always spent with family and friends. And the big occasions like Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving were even better.
It wasn’t until the past two years that I realized the “dark side” of holidays and weekends. Let me ask you this:
Have you ever been lonely?
We have all experienced loneliness at some level and can probably remember a time in our life when we struggled to find community. Friday nights were spent at home and our lunch break during the week found us hiding in our office hoping no one would notice that we were, in fact, alone. I remember when I started my job in Houston being very lonely the first week. My second day of work was my birthday and no one knew. I saw groups of people going out for lunch together, laughing in the hallways and all I wanted to do was cry at my desk and yell, “it’s my birthday, people!” I must say though, I never knew true loneliness until my husband entered his residency and I was left with more time that I could ever desire on my own. And I had no idea just how awful holidays and weekends can truly be.
It’s one thing to balance my solitude on a weekly basis. I usually have at least one activity going on and a time to connect with friends on some level. The problem is that the weekends always come. For most people, weekends are spent with family. Two days off of work to play and rest. What people with M-F jobs don’t realize is that for many of us weekends are no different than the week. I’m usually left with two wide open days to fill. The weekend can feel never ending and all I want to do is get back to the week! Obviously if my husband is actually off it’s a different story. Holidays are even worse because you feel the increased hype around you. Yesterday I was in the worst mood, only because I knew that all around me families were gathering, meals were shared, and moms were being celebrated. Even though my parents and my in-laws sent me beautiful cards, I was sad to be alone with the girls. And, if my husband had been home it would have been an amazing day, because that’s just who he is. (to his credit, when he got home after working 14 hours he did run out and get me Chinese food along with a beautiful card and gifts- so, he totally rocks).
Okay, all of this rambling is simply to bring light to the fact that for many in our world, neighborhood even, holidays and weekends are lonely. Are we willing to invite the single guy down the street over on Saturday for dinner? What about the new couple that just moved here from far away over for Thanskgiving? As much as I hate that my husband works 80 hours a week, I’m grateful that through this experience my eyes have been opened to the reality of the loneliness that is so rampant in our world. People are longing to connect, to be part of community and to be invited.
If you are in a lonely place, hang in there. Sometimes it’s our job to make the first move, to be willing to awkwardly invite ourselves over to someone’s house, “crash” another family’s holiday meal, and extend invitations of our own. And if you aren’t in lonely-ville, reach out! What is the worst thing that can happen?