I know — you haven’t seen me in a while. It’s a long story. But since we have plenty of space here, and the story ties in nicely with the point of this column, I’m going to tell it.
On the evening of June 3, I went to a local comedy club to see Darryl Hammond (from Saturday Night Live). Good show, but that’s not the story. I came home around midnight, made my evening vitamin drink, and sat down to read my email.
Only there was no computer.
It was surreal. My condo looked exactly as it had when I left. I noticed nothing out of place — until I saw both of my computers were gone.
I thought for a split second — did I disconnect them? Put them somewhere else? No. So I grabbed my phone, and calmly got the heck out of there.
Within thirty minutes, the place was crawling with police. Officers, dogs, crime scene investigators, fingerprint specialists — every time one team would leave, another would arrive.
Shortly after 3:00 a.m., the last officer left. And then I was all alone.
Those are the moments you really know you’re single.
I didn’t want to call anyone at that hour. So I sat on my sofa, alone in the knowledge that who-knows-who had been watching my home long enough to know I was gone, crawled into a window, rifled through my stuff, and was now doing who-knows-what with all of my personal and financial information.
Of course, I wished I wasn’t going through it alone.
I thought about all of you. Oddly, it made me feel better knowing that I’m not the only one who has to go through moments like this alone. I was grateful there are places like Catholic Match bringing us together to form a community and share our experiences.
But I still felt awfully danged sorry for myself.
In the morning, the news started to spread. And all of my wonderful friends reprimanded me for not calling them in the middle of the night. My sister reminded me she was up with her baby all night. My brother told me he had been awake until after one o’clock, and even after that, I should have called. One friend came over and literally dragged me out of my self-imposed pity party. Another insisted I sleep at her house that night.
Of course it was nice to know I wasn’t alone. But yet, I still felt alone. I still felt violated, vulnerable, creeped out. I had still lost all of my financial data, my book ideas and half-written chapters, and who-knows-what else that I hadn’t even realized yet. As great as everyone was, they couldn’t fix any of that.
I thought about John Paul II, and his uncanny knack for identifying human experiences like this. What I was experiencing was exactly what the Holy Father described in the beginning of the Theology of the Body. (Handy, since that’s what I promised I’d write about this time.)
JPII wrote how God created Adam, in His own image and likeness, completely out of love. Adam, unlike the rest of creation, was created for his own sake. God didn’t need Adam, He simply loved Adam. The rest of creation — the beauty and bounty of Paradise — was created for Adam’s sake, for his use and enjoyment.
Adam carried a tremendous dignity in being created in the image and likeness of God. He was blessed beyond his wildest imagination in Eden. And yet, his first experience was that of loneliness. God said “It is not good for man to be alone.”
JPII called Adam’s experience “Original Loneliness.” He was different than the rest of creation. Along with the dignity of being created in the image and likeness of God, Adam possessed a self-awareness the rest of creation did not. Adam knew he was alone.
And so God created Eve, which is another subject entirely. But, as to our topic today, JPII was clear that the creation of Eve did not completely eradicate Adam’s original solitude. He still, in the end, stood alone before God.
We all do.
I know that, as single people, we tend to idealize marriage. If only I were married, I wouldn’t feel so alone. We buy into the old song “And we’ll never be lonely anymore.”
Sure, there is a peculiar loneliness to the single life. But ask any married person — marriage does not eradicate loneliness. It alleviates it at times. I suspect that other times it actually exacerbates it — times when the married person thinks “I’m not alone, so why do I feel so alone?” Married people tell me that marriage is one long experience of trying to make the other person God, realizing the other person isn’t God, and struggling to return to equilibrium.
Last night, I was listening to an old radio interview with my friend, the late Rich Mullins. Rich was talking about his experience with loneliness. Before I knew him, he was engaged to a woman he loved very much. The end of that relationship broke his heart. And yet, he said even in the most intimate moments of his life with that woman, he realized he was still experiencing a certain kind of loneliness. He concluded that friendship is not a panacea for loneliness — and that if we expect it to be, we just destroy the friendship. Human relationships weren’t designed for that kind of pressure.
Yes, friends are incredibly important. They lighten our burdens and increase our joys. Yes, we were created to live our lives with and through other people.
But in the end, our deepest desire is for God. No human person can completely fill that. Not a friend, not a child, not a spouse.
The sooner we understand that, the sooner we’ll stop seeing marriage as a cure for our loneliness, and start seeing it simply as the beautiful vocation — with all the joys and sacrifices it entails — that God intended it to be.
Mary Beth Bonacci, in addition to being a Catholic Match columnist is an internationally known speaker. Mary Beth holds a bachelor's degree in Organizational Communication from the University of San Francisco, and a master's degree in Theology of Marriage and Family from the John Paul II Institute at Lateran University. You may visit her website at www.RealLove.net.
This article has been re-published with written authorization of Catholic Match, LLC.
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