Sometimes we need aloneness in order to heal. There are times we need to step back from the world for a while to pretend—for ourselves and for others—that we don’t exist.
We think: You may see me, but I’m a ghost, I’m not really here. My heart is breaking, my pain overwhelming and I can’t stand up. I can’t be a part of this. I don’t belong here.
So sometimes we need isolation. We need to be alone in the room and mourn. We want to be able to hear our true selves in the silence and allow ourselves to scream the questions to which there are no answers. Questions like the ones children cry out when they’ve fallen and scraped their knees: Why does it hurt? Isn’t there anyone who can make it stop?
There are times we need to fully experience and succumb to the stunning unfairness of life.
When we become a temporary ghosts, it’s convenient for others not to notice us. We hope fervently that they won’t notice us just as we secretly and desperately hope they will.
Time passes and after a while we begin to fall in love again and cherish our own intakes of breath. We surprise ourselves because we never thought the fog would lift and we’d be able to look in the mirror and feel compassion, see we are tired, we need to be taken care of.
We begin to smile again at people passing us on the streets but when they don’t smile back we think: Maybe I have been a ghost for too long, maybe no one sees me.
But it’s okay because we don’t lose hope so easily anymore.
We begin to see the magic and loveliness of life again, sometimes just for brief moments and sometimes for days at a time. We understand we are getting better. We cry when we remember how we allowed ourselves to tear our own spirits apart with sadness and words calculated to destroy. We are taking baby steps toward healing.
We can stand on the edge of a group of people at ease with each other and call out with confidence: Can I join you? Do you see me? I don’t need to hide anymore.
We no longer crave isolation. We can smile at the wonder of the passage of time and the way our souls can become strong and giddy with hope again.
Slowly we start to understand that isolation and solitude are not the same. With this understanding comes freedom brought by the pleasure found in being both alone and in the company of others.
Finally, we can say: I’ve found my way back to life. I’m rich. I’m content. I’m living.
Author: Colleen Berge
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Hartwig HKD/Flickr