Christmas and New Year’s have just passed. Her first holidays without Matt, I worry about Tara. It’s our eighth session together.
“How are you doing?”
“I’m having a hard time,” she says with a quivering voice. “I spent the holidays pretty much alone. It was sobering.”
“It’s ok to be sad. Allow your feelings to happen. Don’t judge them. They will change. Grieving is a two-step forward, one-step backwards process.”
When I started School of Love NYC, I had no idea I would connect with a global audience of women and men who were grieving the loss of love. Far too many people were suffering from the acute psychological effects of isolation.
I purposely built Group Classes with anonymity and confidentiality in mind. I wanted people to share truthfully and honestly. As people share uncensored emotions, collective healing happens. It is a beautiful thing to witness.
“I did an experiment--I didn’t text anyone. I wanted to see who would reach out to say they were thinking of me,” Tara says. “On Christmas, only my parents called. None of my siblings. Only one of my friends reached out. The pain was unbearable.”
Her voice is barely a whisper.
“I am an extremely warm person. I have over four hundred friends on Facebook. But, when push comes to shove, I feel so very alone.”
Despite the “connectivity” of social media, many of my clients feel acute loneliness. We all need real-life conversation. We all need to feel seen and heard. Our burdens lift as we communicate with other people who care.
“Tara, do you have girlfriends? Ones with whom you can talk freely? Without censorship or judgment?”
“My college girlfriends all got married and had kids. They are too busy,” she replied.
“How about single friends in a similar position to you?”
“Not really,” she replied. “Most have boyfriends. I never imagined I would feel so alone at 36.”
Both married and single people alike need friendship.
Friendships are a place to practice relationship skills like empathy, vulnerability, conflict resolution, and forgiveness. To prosper, romantic relationships must be supported by a village of supportive friends.
I often advise my clients to forgo dating until they have built a strong circle of friends.
“Tara, you’re being brave and honest. You’re saying out loud what other people are thinking. Love comes in many forms. It’s time to shore up the reserves. Only then will you be strong enough—and without neediness—to attract the right romantic partner.”
Tara breathes out a sigh of relief.
“Talking to you makes me feel so much better—lighter and brighter. You have magical healing powers.”
Everyone needs someone with whom to have real and meaningful conversations. As you practice this art, you become an ambassador. You build bridges and find common ground. You have the power to become an agent for social change—capable of healing the world.
1. What does it mean that grieving is a “one step forward, two steps backwards process?”
2. Why is social media no substitute for real-life friendship?
3. Why is it important to practice intimacy in friendships?