Breaking Down – So Lonely

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    I tried posting this under ‘Tough Times’, but couldn’t access that forum for some reason…

    Anyway, today was about the hardest day emotionally in months. I’m recovering from a breakup (in August), a move back to my hometown and a new life all together. I’ve been practicing meditation and being present with what I encounter, which is mostly an incredible loneliness and boredom. I have only one friend in town and there’s no social venues to meet others. I work consistently to weed out the ego, self-hate and live mostly with gratitude and cultivating self-love.

    Today I broke down in sadness and emotion, probably because of the holidays and learning that my ex went back to his hometown for Thanksgiving. First I was sad because I spend so many Thanksgivings with him and his family or mine. I started crying and couldn’t stop. So I went to the beach and really tried all my lessons that I had practiced. Accepting what is, sending out love, loving the present, being with my feelings, but there’s no stopping it. I feel so incredibly alone and sad. I’m drowning in it. To make matters worse, I live with my parents again, so I can’t be outwardly expressing these feelings. I think it would be easier if I were on my own and able to just express them.

    Anyway, I know exactly what this situation is about and that I don’t need to do anything or try to change it. It’s just so overwhelmingly hard to deal with the loneliness and sadness that comes from not having friends or a social circle.

    My gut is just killing me from these emotions. It’s unlike me to be so down and out. I don’t know if I’m sinking into depression.

    Inner Typewriter

    I read your post.

    Not quite sure I understand “I know exactly what this situation is about and that I don’t need to do anything or try and change it” is about. However, sometimes the questions we ask ourselves are more important than the answers we find.

    Change and transition is always painful. Have you asked yourself, why did I move back home when I can’t get emotional support and understanding from my parents. You didn’t mention in your post if you have siblings.

    I grew up in a small town and I know how suffocating they can be. When my partner and I broke up, and we were living in a small California town, I moved to San Francisco. I wanted young people in my life, I wanted culture, I wanted to go back to school, and I wanted the emotional support a small town does not offer. It takes time to turn the ghosts in our lives into ancestors.

    I love solitude. The solitude in a city is much different than the solitude in a small town. In the city you have options. I have discovered the only time I am really myself is when I am alone. Suggest you read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s wonderful book about solitude: Gift from the Sea. This book is available from any book seller including Amazon.

    Take the step that’s right in front of you – one after another.

    Bright Blessings to you!


    Inner Typewriter,

    Thank you for your valuable insight and thoughtfulness in responding. I looked up the book and will definitely check it out as soon as I can.

    I’m curious to hear more about the contrasts that you found between the small town and San Francisco. I too love solitude. It’s what I sought out most of my life until moving back here in September. Now for once in my life I want to be out, meeting people (I recently discovered that my former anti-social behavior – for the last 10 years – was due to insecurities, which I’ve since resolved), exploring new things, mostly things to be found in a city. I understand your sentiment of only feeling yourself when you’re alone.

    I appreciate everything my parents are giving me. But they don’t really engage in conversation with me or I don’t feel comfortable sharing with them. I’ve spent the past couple of months just un-conditioning myself from the years of self-hate that I accumulated living with them – lots of criticism and judgement. It’s ironic because in the past decade, I spent a lot of time wishing I were close to them and had a hard time leaving after visiting them on vacations. I think I just need my space. I’m 37 now and appreciate having my own space to be myself. I have one sibling, but he lives in another state and we aren’t close. I have two good friends, but one is always busy with her family, and the other has lots of obligations. Although she and I share in our spiritual practice and are kind of in the same place in life, she isn’t looking to expand her social circle, nor hang out much.

    I moved back home to go to school. I debated moving back to Chicago and studying there. I lived there a few years ago and actually left the school that I would return to if I went back to Chicago because I didn’t think I was getting a very good education.

    When I see myself moving, I see myself running away from who I am. From all the stuff that comes up when left without any distractions. I think I’m seeking to start my life over in a completely different way because I see that as a way to continue breaking down my conditioned reactions/ego and seeing myself as more emotionally free. There’s also the difficult part of seeing that my former partner seems to have a nice full social life and is enjoying hobbies. I know this comparing of our lives and of waiting for school and my life to start is also the root of my emotional overload and sadness.

    I have a history of having a ‘grass is greener’ mentality. I’ve been working on that by just observing my constant feelings of wanting something else and thinking that lies elsewhere. I know that wherever I go, there I’ll be. I’m just sinking emotionally now because I have a gut feeling that this is where I should be to study. But 3-4 years of no social life is really freaking me out. I need people!But then I imagine myself in Chicago, with a social life, wishing I had my parents around to love me unconditionally.

    I really miss having a companion. I know self-love and acceptance is the key, but the yearning just keeps getting stronger. It’s truly overwhelming!

    Thank you so much for your blessings. Sending some back at you!

    Meg Hartley

    Gosh, I so relate. I felt alone living in my small town in Alaska, and moved to Portland to find that I still felt alone. I’m still reflecting on what the cause was, if it wasn’t location. It’s changing now, I’m attracting all kinds of like-minded folks. What did I do? Could I have done it at home?

    My biggest hunch is that I had a lot of internal work to do, and I wasn’t getting it done when I had such a fun social life. If an icky thing that needed to be dealt with came up, I’d call a friend to go grab a drink and chat about nothing. Some kind of higher-self imposed isolation? I don’t know…

    I do know that I feel better. I didn’t even realize I was feeling bad before, but in hindsight I was hiding from myself in my friends…if that makes any sense. Like I had found people that mirrored only my nice traits, and I had to give that up in order to grow…half baked thoughts here…?

    You sound like an extremely reflective person, and you’re going to come out the other side of this, and it’s going to be awesome.

    Also, hide him from your Facebook feed. 😉


    I understand. I have gone through something similar, although I did not move back to a small town or live with my family. I still struggle with profound loneliness. I am not sure if what I have to say will help, but here are some things that might be useful:

    (1) First, sometimes there is just no substitute for just pushing through it one day at a time. It helps to just embrace the loneliness. Acknowledge how you are feeling, and let yourself go through it. It sucks, but sometimes it’s all you can do. Also, it’s helpful to recall that you honestly don’t know what will happen in the future. Loneliness can feel very engulfing, but just know that you never see your whole future at once. Things change. There’s no reason to believe that in a few years you won’t be in a much happier place. It may help to bear this in mind when you’re sinking under loneliness and sadness;

    (2) I don’t know if you experience overly negative inner thoughts about, maybe, how your life will never get better, but if you do, it’s good to remind yourself of things you’ve done well. You can’t let a negative inner dialogue take over your thoughts. If you find yourself thinking really sad, overly negative thoughts, it’s helpful to gently correct them with a more positive and more realistic thought such as, “Yeah, this sucks. I am really really lonely right now. And it’s fine to feel crappy about my life. But I am loveable and smart and pretty. X, Y, and Z have loved me. There is no reason in the world that this won’t happen again. I have a lot to offer, I just need to push through this. Also, in the past, I felt shitty about the time when X broke up with me. I thought I would never be happy again, and yet, I was. I don’t love them anymore and I’m fine.” Reminding yourself of past situations that you got through usually helps;

    (3) It does help to continue trying to meet people, go out, do things, rather than let yourself slip deeper and deeper into sadness. Sometimes the last thing you want to do is see people, but I think it’s important not to just be alone constantly when you’re lonely and depressed;

    (4) maybe try to find a way to move out if your family is really bad for you – I know that can be easier said than done in some situations, but it’s important to preserve the person you are. Sometimes family can tear that down;

    (5) Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Remind yourself that you are loveable, good, kind, beautiful, talented, whatever things you would tell a friend in this situation. Tell that to yourself as many times as you need to feel better; and

    (6) I think posting online, finding people online who can sympathize is very helpful, which you are already doing. At the end of the day, we all need other people and need a community, in my opinion.

    Good luck. I hope you find peace and happiness soon. Breakups can be devastating.

    Also, agree with the commenter above that you should not look at your ex’s facebook/other online feed. It’s only going to hurt you. It might help to take a big step back and not look at his life until you are in a better place. It’s not doing you any good.



    Hi Halcyon Musings,

    Hiding from myself in friends is exactly right. Or trying to anyway, since I don’t have any friends around. I really never did this before, so I must really be hurting or escaping. In the past, I’d hole up and figure myself out and then usually take a trip somewhere or move somewhere new and find my problems still with me because I was doing something based on what I hoped to get instead of just being inspired from who I was then.

    You said you had to give up the hiding from yourself in people who only mirrored your good traits. How did you do that? Did you just take a break from finding a distraction when stuff came up? And do you think you could’ve done the growing with the friends around?

    I think social media and especially Facebook, are making things more difficult this time around. It’s very easy for me to get caught up in what others are doing. I over-think everything, which gets me even more into my head with making comparisons. He’s hidden from my Facebook feed, but we have some mutual friends from long ago and he’s always liking what I post or what they post. I hate to put any energy into the person I’m trying to get over, but I never know what his intentions are which keeps me, as an over-thinker, working full time trying to figure this all out.

    I think I just have to let go of all my thoughts, anticipations, anxieties, and control of any sort. Drop it all. Just work on continuously dropping it all. Beginner’s Mind. 🙂

    Thank you for the kind words of encouragement and for sharing your stories. It all really helps. 🙂


    Hi Ceecee,

    Wow, thanks for taking the time to share all that amazing advice with me! I’m printing it out to have as a reference for when things are really hard. You’re so right on on all of those. I especially liked how you said that I can’t see my future all at once. Which comes down to having faith that things are going exactly as they should.

    What I’m gleaning from all the wonderful feedback that people have provided me with is that I I would like to work on just being kind to myself and trusting in the process of life. Easier said than done, but as the saying goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” And as you say, to just push through it one day at a time.

    Thank you again for your gift of wisdom. Peace and happiness to you too. 🙂



    I can definitely relate to having felt lonely before and wanting a bigger social circle. Sometimes we just need to be with others to recharge and occasionally reflect. I would like to hear more about the sorts of things you feel when you see what others are doing (i.e. via Facebook). I’m also very curious how you feel about feeling the way you do. Sometimes its not so much the content of how we feel but how we relate to how we feel that can be difficult.

    I suggest reading this article: and see if you feel like you can relate to some of what is being said. If so then like me you might find a tremendous amount of peace in reading a really great book called The Four Agreements which helped me with my personal need to better differentiate myself.

    On a complete tangent I find it so interesting how many elements of psychology touch on elements conceived of and taught centuries ago. You have my support in your journey.


    Hi Joseph,

    Interesting points you bring up regarding my comparisons with what others are doing. Seeing my former partner living a life that I wanted to live – having a social life, hobbies, lots of new friends makes me really sad and feeling hopeless. Combine that with the feelings that I had a few months ago after taking off to visit friends for a month (and getting to be with my thoughts while practicing letting go of my conditioning), when I felt really alive and comfortable in my skin for the first time in over 15 years, it was hard to come back here with no one to share with, nothing to explore. Just me and my childhood history. And how do I feel about the feelings I have? That’s really interesting. I don’t like feeling the way I do. I know there’s more to me. When I have those feelings, I view them and the actions that produce them as being from the deepest darkest place in my body and mind. The insecure, jealous and anxious part of me. And I keep feeding it by repeating the action, but I only do that when I’m feeling low. Never when I’m feeling good about myself. It all just puts a big knot in my gut. I want to rip it out and be free from it forever and stop with the behaviors and thoughts.

    LIke the article you suggested described, I’ve been working on observing my conditioned self (from parents, childhood criticisms) since July. I’m really good at observing my feelings and seeing how my parents’ behaviors strike a nerve with me. I see how much they influence my actions/reactions and I can honestly say that this has made the biggest difference in my life. A therapist I was seeing in July said that going back to live with them would give me a chance to try and express myself in a way that I was never able to growing up.

    I have this sadness because what I really want is to go out and show the world all the love and compassion I have found. It’s a newfound feeling being free from the personality that kept me closed-down and critical for most of my adult life. So I guess I have a hard time seeing my growth without others to practice with here. I can’t just keep studying these things with my own thoughts day after day. But I feel life is telling me that I need to be here and learn to be by myself. Or maybe it’s my imagination telling me that. I just don’t want to keep running away. How great to have Tiny Buddha and people like you to bounce these ideas off of.

    I think I read The Four Agreements about 12 years ago, but I don’t remember books well, so I think I’ll go read it again.

    This response has brought up a lot of emotions. I’m feeling like I’m in a pit that I can’t climb out of. I need to hear my heart and intuition telling me what to do, but it’s so clouded.

    Thank you, Joseph for getting me to ponder some of these things. 🙂


    Hi again, Joseph, if you’re reading –

    I was just letting my stream of consciousness go as I was making breakfast and came up with these two huge insecurities that fuel all the comparisons and the subsequent bad feelings:

    1. Constantly comparing myself to other girls with whom my former partner has a relationship with whether friendly or romantic. I place all these different personalities on myself based on what he’s interested in or who he’s hanging out with. In essence, I’m not being true to myself. I’m aware of this. I see things that I think are cool that others are doing and want to take that angle in life. Again, I’m aware of this as I see it happening before my very eyes.

    2. He has a history in finding comfort with other women. Perfect match for me, huh?

    I revealed all this in therapy months ago, and came to the conclusion that I need to be open about my insecurities with future partners. This doesn’t address how to resolve the issue as it’s happening now – in my mind and the virtual world. I think the only solution would be to be sprinkled with fairy dust and a strong sense of self-worth or to eliminate all of him from my life, which I don’t think is possible. And wouldn’t that be running away from myself?

    Is this normal? Would this go away without involving the former partner?



    When we can deeply embrace the impermanence of these emotions, there is magic to be found in the flavors they present to us. Consider that pain can push our mind into agitation, into running for escape, thinking that “this is permanent”. However, we know that it isn’t… pain arises when the conditions are there, and settles when the conditions are not. Said differently, “doing nothing” with it is exactly right… just breathe. When we are in emotional pain, it is not a good time to explore, it is a good time to rest, recharge, ground ourselves. A few things came to heart as I read your words.

    The only difference between a panicked breakdown and a spiritual breakthrough is patience. If we can sit with the discomfort, say “this is discomfort” and breathe, and not let it push our mind into “this is what I am forever” or “what is causing this” and just breathe, then the causes reveal themselves. Ironically, often we run around the mind looking for causes and unintentionally scrape ourselves up even more. It is like a person in the kitchen who burns their hand, and instead of saying “yep, burn” hops up and down and bumps into the stove over and over. Said differently, you’re lonely. That’s enough. You know you feel lonely, and that is simple. It is some chemicals in the body, some patterns of thought. As you breathe, you can breathe in positive energy, and breathe out the loneliness… giving that moment over to only care directly for your body. The mind settles, and instead of “oh my god, I am so lonely, do I do this or that or should I try harder here or there, am I true to myself or am i being like her, am I destined to be lonely because of who in am and what I do, if only I could be more like her, or him, or myself… ” you can approach your need with patience. “What do I need? Where can I look?”

    Next, there is no such thing as “The True Maile”. You’re constantly evolving, dear sister, and who you were two paragraphs ago is different than who you are now. That’s OK. Being true to ourselves isn’t trying to have a “genuine personality”… its in dropping that whole notion altogether. What do you want, what seems right, what does your wisdom and love reveal as the present moment is revealed through your senses. Our whole journey is sprinkled with innovations that we adopt… from “cool” people, from “wise” people, from “learned” people. There is no need to resist it, we learn to play with our life by dancing from form to form… holding close the wise and dropping the foolish.

    Finally, sheesh girl! You take yourself far too seriously. Go play! This garden we live in is fertile, and sometimes we are too wise and spiritual for our own good. We forget the beauty, forget to sing, and instead slide inward and look for our issues. Said differently, your tangles have only the power you give them. Remember that!

    With warmth,


    Hi Matt,

    Good ole Matt. Always a blessing to read your thoughts and perspectives. The truth in your wisdom hit me hard.

    I want to play and not take life so seriously. I want to just live in the moment. I don’t know how to do this on my own. I used to do it. Go out exploring, find all the beauty of nature. I don’t know why that doesn’t strike me as fun anymore. Everywhere I go seems to just bring painful memories up (not having my partner to share it with). I know these feelings need to be accepted and dropped. Like you said, just breathe, it’s passing, it’s impermanent. But after months of experiencing that and ending up crying, it all just seems to be too much to handle. I think I really need something to shake me up. And for some reason I that would be by going somewhere strange and foreign. To feel lost in the world with nothing to identify with.

    I also am trying to root out the ego, which I take as being a grasping for an identity to hide the cover any pain of just being. I guess in trying to release this so called ego and the identity I’m trying not to take on, I’m grasping harder at this task than just allowing myself to have an identity and see where that takes me. Maybe I’m just really confused with my practice. I’ve been practicing with Cheri Huber – her books and her email classes. Through them and this practice, I’ve found the infinite love of life – many times. But I liken my practice to sticking a finger in a hole to hold back a leak – after a month and a half it just sprung an even bigger leak, this time unexpected, out of the blue. I just started crying and it went on for days without knowing what the trigger was. It frightened me and it still frightens me because it was completely uncontrollable. How many days or weeks or months can it go on before I should be worried? It makes me think that the way I was practicing was suppressing some kind of pain/emotions, which I didn’t (and still don’t) think was possible.

    And now I can see that I’m over-thinking all of this way too much. I think I’m letting my ego be my teacher, which is getting me nothing, but suffering.

    I will take your word and just be today. I’ll just have fun and be. Stop thinking for the rest of the day.

    Thank you, Matt. 🙂


    I just found this blog – nothing is everything. Perfectly fitting for my breakdown.

    Thank the universe for


    I am not sure if this will help. I just went through a divorce a couple of months ago. He was my best friend.
    The thing that gets me by is how in control I am of how rich my own company can be. It is my goal to stand on my own two feet again. Stand straight and tall and love me for me. Learning about yourself can feel amazing and focusing on who you are may help your struggle.


    Hi Sarah,

    Yes, the opportunity to learn from it and to really get to know yourself and give yourself the love you deserve is a real gift to be treasured. It’s the one thing that gets me through when I start getting confused and asking why such a terrible and painful thing had to happen.

    The past few days my mind turned over a new leaf and I have been able to act on what I want in my life. Instead of the woe is me attitude, I just started doing things that I used to judge, that were out of my comfort zone, that I never would’ve done if I weren’t so lonely and bored. It definitely has helped. And I started reading ‘Buddha’s Brain’ and practicing creating those grooves for good feelings in my brain. I’m gonna be bold and say that my life will never be the same again since reading this article about the brain. Even if my heart never stops hurting, at least I’ll have the knowledge that I am the only one responsible for my feelings. This is the article: has really helped. I always have to know why and how things work to be able to accept them. (I’m also learning to stop questioning and just accept).

    Your words helped me. I thank you deeply for taking the time to share. 🙂

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