Our Own Lonely Way (in memory of my friend)

“At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one's lost self.” Brendan Francis (Photography by Jeff Watkins)

“At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one’s lost self.” Brendan Francis (Photography by Jeff Watkins)

At a friend’s funeral last Monday, I sat very still while they played Rascal Flatt’s song, Moving On. I wondered how many hundreds of times over the past few years I’d listened to the lyrics that said home would end up where I don’t belong.

The song was one of a number of things/people that saved my life. It helped me let go. It helped me move on.

I wish it had done the same for my friend.

The minister tried to explain why it didn’t. He said several times during her service, “She couldn’t find her way back.”

I understood. I’ve had difficulty finding my way back also. Probably we all have at one time or another. 

During our lost times, counselors, recovery programs, books on depression, and concerned friends will warn us not to isolate. While I was detaching from everyone including my husband and adult children, I wondered if I was justifying an unhealthy habit or taking care of myself. Being with people scared me, especially during my deepest depression. I didn’t think I could handle any more hurt. Since people are sometimes hurtful, isolation made sense. It even seemed necessary.

I spent a lot of time alone, all the while, wondering how I’d heal in solitude. How do you find your way back when you’re by yourself? For that matter, where is “back” when you’re all alone?

Although I’m not recommending anyone isolate during depression, this is how it worked for me. I figured out that being alone doesn’t kill you. I realized that friends and family are valuable and I want them in my life, but I don’t need them. I need God. However, before I awakened to this, I hurt a lot. I cried a lot. I felt afraid a lot. I was lonely a lot.

In the end, though, I didn’t die. 

In fact, I found my way back, not to people at first, although that did eventually happen, but to God and to myself.

I held tight to a few things that helped with hope.

  • I thought often about what a friend used to say, “We each have to find our own lonely way.” She didn’t mean friends aren’t important, but in the end, the journey of life is ours to walk. Alone.
  • I thought often about what a counselor asked, “Do you feel like you’re dying? You’re really being born.” I mention this again and again because it gave me hope that the pain I felt wasn’t about a dead-end life, but a new beginning.
  • I thought often about there being a good chance my aloneness was part of a bigger plan since I unwisely placed people in the spot meant for God. I hoped good would come from all the heartache, and it has. God is now center stage, at least most of the time.
  • I thought often, “This will pass,” although I began to wonder when the years mounted to eight, but eight years is what it took because I was afraid to let go. Yours doesn’t have to take so long.
  • I thought often about what I believe, “Everything happens for a reason and I’m right where I’m supposed to be.” Out of my pain sprung this blog in an attempt to walk alongside you, all the while finding my own lonely way.

What have you learned from aloneness? What’s helped when you’re trying to find your way back?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – We’re created with a need to belong; yet that’s often the part of life we struggle with the most … trying to fit in. Learning to belong while walking “our own lonely way” was worth eight years and more.

On the side: This post was written in memory of my friend who finally found her way back.  I love you.

Click here for more photography by Jeff Watkins.


12 responses »

  1. Kim….I can’t tell how much this post means to me. I can only say this…been there…done that when it comes to dealing with depression. I offer you my deepest condolences on the loss of your dear friend. The minister is so right….not all people find their way back. We are so blessed!

    • We are blessed, Dolores. That’s how I felt sitting in the chapel last Monday. Blessed to have made it back, but I also ached because she didn’t. Her service was bittersweet and the post didn’t do it justice, but I wanted to write something in her memory. Thanks for saying it meant a lot to you.

  2. I enjoy reading blogs, learning from others as they share their thoughts & lives. Fortunately I don’t suffer from depression but my daughter does & I have friends who have. When I read your blogs, I am so honored to be let into a world of words of feelings that help me understand anothers pain & journey. I also feel this way when I read books by Elizabeth Berg or Anita Shreve (there are others but a sr. moment has attacked). Thank you for your self expression. It makes a difference.

    • I’m honored to have you as a reader, Roz. Thanks for sharing that these posts make a difference. I appreciate your encouragement to keep telling my story. Sometimes it’s easy, other times, not so much. I appreciate you and your kind words.

  3. It’s taken me twenty four hours after reading this post to comment, I was just so moved by you and what you shared.

    The title of the post is, to me, the most poignant. We do all have to find the way, our way, by ourselves. Sure, others can support, encourage and wipe our tears, but ultimately, we journey inside ourselves, and often it is lonely, and hard, and a struggle.

    I have never suffered from depression but the journey is still internal, not external. We still, with all our different personalities, need to find our way in the solitude of our own hearts, where the only other Person is the One who *can* journey with us.

    I am so very glad and thankful you ‘found your way back’. And prayers for all those who are finding it hard to navigate that path.

    Blessings and comfort to you, my friend xox

    • Susannah,

      When I read your comments, there’s always something you’ve written that I’d like to insert into the post. This time around, there’s more than one, but the most touching is “And prayers for all those who are finding it hard to navigate that path.” Yes, many prayers for them and us because we know how tough it can be to “journey inside ourselves.”

      Also, thanks for the perspective that it’s an internal journey for all of us, not just those of us who have dealt with or are dealing with depression. We’re all dealing with life.

      You’re dear to me! Love ~

  4. From Facebook –

    Jean Dalton likes this.

    Laura-Lee Podmore Great post. So true and I can relate 100%.
    Thursday at 11:44am · Unlike · 1

    S. Kim Henson Thanks for letting me know you can relate, Laura-Lee Podmore. Even though I isolate, I like knowing others understand.
    a few seconds ago · Like

  5. From Facebook –

    Joanne Moseley Rabon, Rusty Henson, Rita Nein and 11 others like this.

    Karen Hough Kim, this is a beautiful tribute … she did find her way home. My prayer is that she is at peace … finally
    Wednesday at 11:25pm · Unlike · 2

    Kim Henson Karen, thanks so much for reading and for your comment. That is my prayer also. She was a special friend.
    Wednesday at 11:28pm · Like · 1

    Mildred Gunter WOW!!! Thanks.
    Wednesday at 11:38pm · Unlike · 1

    Karen Rice wonderful,,, it made me ponder and I too have isolated myself during depression. Sometimes it helped, other times it didn’t. thanks for sharing.
    Wednesday at 11:49pm · Unlike · 1

    Kim Lovin Thank you Kim!
    Thursday at 5:56am · Unlike · 1

    Karen Burbach Smythe how beautiful, introspective and inspiring!
    Thursday at 7:27am · Unlike · 1

    Peggy New I love your posts … and think “I’d really like to talk to Kim about this” and then I chicken out. One day soon …. thanks for being so brave!
    Thursday at 7:50am · Unlike · 1

    Rhonda Gore Etherden I think, sometimes, we get so insular during times of great stress and tragedy that we don’t even realize how cut off we have become. I know I am socially battling back from my mom’s illness and at times, I feel genuinely lonely.
    Thursday at 7:57am · Unlike · 1

    Diane Wilson Dale Love your honesty and love you!
    Thursday at 8:07am · Unlike · 1

    Kim Henson Thanks for commenting, Mildred Gunter. Love having you as a reader.
    39 minutes ago · Like

    Kim Henson I’ve had the same experience, Karen Rice, There were other times when, instead of isolating, I should have reached out and been around people. This time it was life-changing to be alone. Life is a mystery.
    36 minutes ago · Like · 1

    Kim Henson Thank you for reading, Kim Lovin.
    36 minutes ago · Like

    Kim Henson Thank you so much, Karen Burbach Smythe. Your comment made my night.
    35 minutes ago · Like

    Kim Henson Peggy New, I love our friendship. You’re the brave one. I love having friends who forge the way. After Claire’s born (hopefully in the next few days), can we have that talk? I’d love that.
    33 minutes ago · Like

    Kim Henson Rhonda Gore Etherden, you’re so right. I needed the time alone, but I don’t think I knew how isolated I had become until I made my way back. It’s kind of scary, but I’m grateful for the lessons now that I’m on the other side of it … not that I’ve arrived, I just know more than I did eight years ago. I hope you’re doing okay now?
    29 minutes ago · Like

    Kim Henson Thank you, Diane Wilson Dale. It’s easier to be honest when I have friends like you who encourage it.

  6. Kim, this touched my heart so deeply! I learned so much about you that I did not know by reading this! You seemed to be a master at masquerading your thoughts and feelings! I agree that the journey of life is ours to navigate, but I also think that everyone needs someone to help guide them in the right direction! You were so very brave for traveling this treacherous journey alone. I am proud of you and I am glad to have you back in my life! Our friend was not as fortunate and we will miss her always! I love you and hope you continue to shine, as you anxiously await Baby Claire!!

    • Jan, I always said I should have been an actress. I acted like I wanted to feel in hopes I’d get better by faking it. It didn’t work and I had to finally deal with the pain. I would love to have had someone by my side, but it didn’t work that way either. Looking back, I think I understand a lot more about why things happened the way they did. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

      I’m so happy we’ve reconnected. I still grin about the day we ran into you and Dan at Costco. That visit seemed to jumpstart our renewed relationship. And Facebook, of course. 🙂

      I sure do miss Kathy. This life is so hard for some. I hope she’s found peace and is looking down on us and smiling.

      Thank you for your sweet comment. I love you!

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