Coping Strategies – Daily Prompt Response

Posted on November 3, 2012


I think we all lie to ourselves more than we realize. If time heals all wounds, it is because our minds have rewritten history to something we can live with. We forget and we compartmentalize, to varying degrees; if we didn’t, we would never be able to move on. Our ability to cope with painful history relies on being able to find a way to smooth out the rough areas and move on. I believe the opposite is also true; for example, there is a mistake I hold onto because letting it go would mean accepting a harder and more painful truth.

It took me over an hour to just write that paragraph. A lot of doors to open, and while I generally endorse vulnerability, I have to find some balance between being too vague to be of any use and turning this into a bleeding heart soapbox confessional. Not my style. Even when discussing something painful, there is always a positive way to approach it without betraying the truth of the matter.

So, in response to the daily prompt, “When was the last time you felt really, truly lonely?“, I find that I have to admit that I’ve probably been lonely the majority of my life. I have endured tough seasons of life alone; I remember one summer that I was going through so much pain that it was nearly unbearable. I am thankful that I never turned to alcohol or narcotics to deal with life. As for the present, circumstances have improved but the larger support system situation hasn’t, for all intents and purposes. I have had no family in my life since my mother died in 1999, other than a brief visit with my father the following year, after which he told me not to bother him again (and has ignored all my efforts to contact him since). I have had friends in my life, but if I were being completely honest, nearly all of my good friends have moved to other areas and I wouldn’t say I connect with anyone locally on any kind of deep level (with one exception), who are mostly just acquaintances, despite my better efforts. (I realize this needs to be a priority, and it is something I am working on.)

One moment stands out to me though. A few years ago, I’d lost my job, and in the process of looking for a new one, I decided to use my time to join the USAF Reserves for the training and tuition assistance. The year prior to even making that decision, I had lost 80 pounds and made a lot of really positive changes in my life. Completing basic training at the age of 29 was a big accomplishment for me, felt like the culmination of a lot of hard work.

So when graduation time came, and we were handed our coins, big ceremony. Everyone had loved ones attend, excluding me. We were supposed to wait in formation until a family member tapped us out, but as I was the last one there, I finally got a courtesy tap from another graduate. Realistically, we were in Texas, where none of my friends lived. It would have been a hell of a commute for anybody to have made.

But it was absolutely heart breaking; the success was spoiled by the fact that there was no one there to really share it with.

Time keeps moving, however. We move on, we forget and just try to keep making things better. But the sting of that moment won’t be forgotten anytime soon, and it reminds me that success without people to love you in your life is really no success at all. Lesson learned.