Life Unmasked: Alone or Lonely?

There’s a challenge floating around cyberspace at the moment, a challenge to write a post under the theme Life Unmasked. I wasn’t going to participate – need to stay on task with a project – but after reading someone else’s post, I realized I had something to say, so I’m going to give a shot. Ten minutes. Ready? Go!

Life: Unmasked

It was Anna‘s words, “I’m been forced into a kind of hibernation … ” and her saying one of the things she’s struggled most with is “loneliness.” Why did I put that in quotations marks, the last word? It’s loneliness, flat out.(7 minutes left.)

* * *

I wrote in my little notebook a couple of weeks ago:
I spend a lot of time alone. Sometimes not enough. Sometimes too much.

I liked the way it sounded
and immediately counted the number of characters
to see if it was fewer than 140
so I could post it on Twitter.
I was just dying to say it somewhere, once.

70 characters.
but I decided not to tweet it
– or maybe I did, who knows?
(Under 5 minutes left. Stop thinking, Marilyn. Just write.)

I didn’t tweet it or maybe I did.
but here’s the thing:

I wanted to say it.
I was dying to say it.
I was dying for someone to know
I’m alone a lot.

And sometimes it’s just what I need.
And sometimes it’s not.
and when it’s not,
I don’t know what to do about it.

There is a difference,
after all,
being alone
and being lonely.

* * *

I NEED SPACE to think and write –
yes –
but I also need places
where I brush up against others

and there is something that keeps me from planning it,
from intentionally working some of that in on purpose
and I need to tackle that.

Time’s up!
There you go,
life unmasked.

If you’ve got one,
write a post
and link up at Joy’s blog on Wednesdays.

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
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11 Responses to Life Unmasked: Alone or Lonely?

  1. I struggle with that same thing … too much alone time can lead to loneliness but not enough definitely leads to grumpiness!! 🙂

    Learning to build in the margin, the white space, and finding that balance is hard … and it always seems like just when I think I’ve found it, life changes and I have to start over.


  2. Shauntelle says:

    Beautiful and something that echoes with my daily life as well. Thank you. 🙂


  3. Anna says:

    There’s a weird thing about the interconnectedness of the digital media realms that doesn’t do away with the need for human face to face contact. You think that the interactions you have with people might be enough, at least I do…but it doesn’t. I feel quite honoured that your starting point was my confession. I also feel challenged that even if I only have 10 minutes there’ll be no excuse not to participate in “Life: Unmasked”! 🙂


  4. aubrygrace says:

    It’s funny, the difference between being alone and being lonely that you mentioned. I often feel so “cooped up” with my two young children – it’s so hard to go anywhere with them, and I struggle with loneliness much of the time (though they are crawling all over me). And then when my husband is able to give me a break – I go somewhere to be totally alone! I think I need to find a balance of enjoying solitude, but also intentionally “brushing up against others.” Thanks for your post!


    • Aubry, I totally get this! Isn’t it strange how we can be lonely in the middle of a crowd, and feel so at home in solitude. But it has to be the wrong crowd and the right solitude or it feels all wrong.

      Marilyn, I love this post. So much *real* here. I take comfort in watching Jesus move in and out of crowds and solitude. If the perfect human needed time alone, than it’s healthy and good for us to need alone time too.


  5. bethhavey says:

    Great post. I too am often alone and seldom lonely. Yet. I know those days will come when I don’t have my children needing me as much or my husband. It’s always good to have a pile of books to read. But the key for me was a line delivered by a woman who was helping me clean: “You feeling bad about yourself? Well then go out and do something for someone else. That’s the cure.” She’s right.


  6. Emily says:

    Glad you said it, Marilyn. I’m sure many echo your heart. I would be happy to brush up against you some time soon. I’m never alone, but often in a lonely place. Need more time alone and more time with adults.


  7. I’m so glad you “gave it a shot.” You spoke beautiful, hard truth in ten minutes. I love solitude and am so often thankful that God purposed to surround me with a gaggle of children who need me, because left to my own designs, I do believe I’d be a hermit and actually be OK with that. My heart aches for your loneliness. I see that ache in my parents for my brother who’s gone, in my mother-in-law, who longs to be surrounded by family, her family, again, in my neighbor who is no longer married and not by choice, in a dear friend who longs for deep, heartfelt connections she’s afraid to risk. Therein, as we’re willing, lies the blessings of community, of doing life together and truly being the Body of Christ — wrapped together in the overwhelming love of God.


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