All my life, I have felt a deep loneliness. The persistence of the loneliness has been frightening. It has seemed to me, that the consistent loneliness was inarguable proof that something was wrong with me.
I tried to talk myself out of the lonely feelings. I tried to uncover wounds out of my boyhood that gave me inappropriate feelings of loneliness. I went to five or six meetings a week so I would be around people. Some of the things I tried gave me a few moments of fulfilment, but soon the lonely feelings re-emerged.
Then I had an experience that led to an insight that helped me. A friend of mine, who was a social worker, called me and told me she was all torn up emotionally. She had to take a child out of an abusive home. Of course the parents were angry, but she had been surprised at how angry the little boy was. However, she felt morally and legally obligated to protect the child by getting him out of the situation.
We talked awhile about how difficult her job was and how she had no choice in the matter. After thirty minutes or so she felt some better, perhaps from just venting her feelings. I knew I had no answers for her, but I did listen to her and validated the realness of her agony.
The rest of that evening I thought about the little boy. I wondered why he was so angry. After all he truly was being abused. I could not figure out his angry feelings about being taken out of his home.
Then I asked myself, “What would I have felt if a social worker had taken me out of my abusive home?” I realized that I would have been furious just like the other little boy.
The reason I would have been furious was obvious to me. Back then, I was totally persuaded that if I tried hard enough, long enough, I would finally achieve nurture from my Mom. I was resolute in my determination to win that battle.
If I had been taken out of my home, I would have felt that I was being denied my chance to have a Mother’s love. If I was not with her, I could not win her love. If I had been removed, I would have felt I was doomed to grow up without the maternal acceptance I so desperately wanted and needed and would ultimately gain if I tried hard enough.
Of course, my boyhood assumption was entirely wrong. My mother’s rage was in her. I did not cause it, I could not control it, and I could not cure it. No matter what I did or did not do, she would have dealt with me as harshly as her personal psychology demanded. But, as a boy I did not have that understanding.
Then I saw the root of my adult loneliness. I was still trying to win my mother’s love, even though she had been dead for almost twenty years. I was the target of enormous love from my kids, from my larger family, and from an absolute wealth of program and other friends. However, none of that love was from my Mom, Louella, and Louella’s love was the love I was demanding and the love I was totally committed to finding. It was like I was starving to death, seated at a banquet table full of food.
When I shared at a meeting about me demanding my Mom’s love from the world, I made a joke. I said, “I have found a solution. I need several of you woman to change your name to Louella.” Immediately two or three women jumped in on the joke and raised their hand and said, “I’ll do it.” We all had a good laugh. Then I said with mock seriousness “Call your sponsor right now.” It was a fun moment.
Since then, I have worked at grieving my boyhood lack of motherly nurture. In that way, I am gradually able to let the obsession go. As I release my grief into the hearts of my loved ones and into the hands of God, I am able to accept and enjoy the abundance of love there is for me in the world.