Tuesday, June 14

Lonely Mom Syndrome

Read John 15

"I lie on Facebook," a friend told me the other day. "Whatever I say, the truth is I am in sweatpants and have probably been crying."

Her words made me hurt.

For her; for me; for every other lonely mom.

The reasons for our loneliness are as varied as our individual situations and personalities.

A spouse deployed, a lost job, postpartum sleep deprivation, whacked out hormones... Kids keep us in more than we're able to get out. For some of us, it's not a big deal. We like being in. For others, like my friend, staying home is like a prison term. Either way our conversation is with miniature people and generally centers around bodily functions and rhyming songs.

It can get tedious.

Phone calls are complicated. My kids can play in their rooms angelically--until the phone rings. Then they need a snack, play dough must be gotten down immediately, someone hit someone with something... It's endless. And if I am on the phone with another mom, we're both being bombarded. Conversations, when they manage to take place, stay superficial.

The same thing happens when Daddy gets home.

Connecting with other life forms becomes an art form. A long, quiet chat with a spouse becomes a noteworthy experience, whereas "don't lick the cat!" has lost all it's drama. Quality time with a good friend is as rare as a new episode of Cat in Hat.

The world wide web has made it easier to connect in some ways, but more difficult than others. We read blogs of people who have it all together and we feel alone in our failures to be outstanding. We catch up on our freinds' status updates and envy their tranquil existence.

A friend posted the other day about the blueberry whole wheat pancakes she made from ingredients that grow on their property. I make waffles. They come in a box. They cook in the toaster. No one fights over them like the commercial says they should. Because they taste like the box they came in. With a hint of plastic wrap. I don't post about that.

Social media has made it possible for us to put our best foot forward, and quite frankly, lie.

So we feel isolated. Removed emotionally from distracted spouses, physically from once close friends, and out of self preservation online. We pull in, like turtles, convinced we are the only ones that feel this way. We live lonely and sad because we think we have to.

Do you want to know a secret?

It's not just you.

It's me.

It's her.

And at one time or another we have all been utterly convinced that no one else on the planet has ever been through what we are going through.

And this delights our Enemy. For when we are alone, we are easy pickings. He no longer has to launch attacks. He just lets us fester in our loneliness. He lets us convince ourselves that everyone else has a bigger house, a happier marriage, better behaved children, a cuter hairstyle and decorating panache. It thrills him when we determine our value hinges on those things.

It's not so hard to believe when there's no one there to talk it out with.

When this post began forming in my mind, I wanted to be able to hand you a nice practical list of advice. I wanted to offer you a formula for combating the yawning abyss of Lonely Mom Syndrome. It turns out there isn't one.

Sure I can offer you advice, I can remind you Who to turn to. I can remind you to call your doctor if you feel you might be depressed. I can tell you to go to MOPs as a way of connecting to other women in the same place as you. All of these are good things. Especially the first one on the list.

But you know that. It's not for lack of knowing how to connect that we get to feeling this way. It's for lack of understanding that we are not alone.

You are not alone.

I know it feels that way, but you're not.

I keep repeating this because when I was in my darkest places, I needed to hear it over and over and over again. To the point that it was tedious.

It wasn't until I began to understand how many women believed they were alone that I began to understand none of us truly is. I began to see the deception in loneliness.

Others might be better, brighter and thinner, but dollars to donuts they have confronted the lonely monster too. And-more importantly-it doesn't matter.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1


Christa Forsythe said...

Love these words... they made me smile... I identify perfectly... so true!

Ash Kahl said...

Thank you! This was very encouraging. I love what you two are doing here. Thanks for making me feel normal.

The Summers Family said...

Thank you. I need to remember that. With all the "connecting" I do via FB, etc, and all the three-inch-deep emotions I'm good at conveying, in the deeper parts that are ragged and raw, it is often hard to see that we ARE NOT alone. Again, thank you.

LonelyMomDotCom said...

What a wonderful post. In my blog LONELYMOMDOTCOM.com, i just started posting about the same feelings. For over a decade now, I TRULY thought I was alone. I thought I was the odd person out. The only mother to ever feel alone. What I have been reading online these last few days has been eye opening.
Thank you for your words. I feel less alone after reading them.