I was 13 when The Phantom of the Opera film came out.
Although it had many glaring issues with continuity, filming, vocalization, etc., it was still captivating for me, especially at that age. It became one of my favorite escapes from reality, while at the same time helping me address traumas in my own life that I’d been ignoring.
The soundtrack is still one my favorites to listen to. I vividly remember sitting in my room, headphones in, listening to the album on repeat and wringing my heart over the scenes the notes and vocals played in my thoughts.
The final song on the album is a song titled, “Learn to be Lonely” sung by Minnie Driver. I listened to it for hours, unable to stop weeping over what the character of the Phantom felt, so acutely realizing in myself that same loneliness, even at that age.
The older I’ve gotten, the more it’s resonated with me.
This loneliness is now palpable in ways I didn’t count on when I was younger.
I don’t like weekends.
The refuge and leisure and fun I longed for in each break from the routine of the week while I was in high school and college is all but gone.
Being forced to face myself, the gaping maws in my life, all the things I want to change about it, all the pains I need soothed, become even louder and raucous and attention-seeking when I’m by myself for 48 hours.
Not that I don’t have things to do. My current novel, this blog, reading fanfictions, catching up on my favorite movies and tv shows are all among the list of things in the back of my head that I run through when I have free time.
But my depression, fibromyalgia, and all around exhaustion don’t always make those things a possibility.
How do you define yourself, your existence, the time you call your own, when doing nothing?
Even if you have justifiable reasons for not doing those things. (Some nights, I’m so exhausted, I can’t sit upright).
Learning to be lonely, and enjoying that loneliness, is exhausting. Not that it’s without its reward, even if the glimmers of that reward are fleeting, few and far between.I’m grateful that I have the time, when I feel energetic enough to use it, to be able to binge read for six hours straight. Or to write 3000 words in a day on my novel when I find that groove that gives me the creative space to lose myself in the words.
We are told our entire lives that if we aren’t being productive as a student, as a worker, as a spouse, we are nothing.
What do you say to the ones, like me, who are single, who face the coming decades with the sobering reality that they will probably remain single?
What do you say to those who do not find the satisfaction or sense of fulfillment from how they benefit others?
We have to redefine how we see ourselves, not only in society, but at night when the doors are closed, when the lights are off, when you are walking down the hallway and have no distraction of noise or light or movement.
When it’s just you, alone.
And sometimes, it hurts.
And sometimes, it doesn’t.
This is what we are like, before God. Before the Divine, formed in His thoughts, from the crinkles of laughter in His eye, from the movement of the wind blowing through over the grass of His fields.
We are alone, before Him.
Formed from the hollow of His thoughts, the creation longing of His heart. We are alone. In the most perfect of ways. And beloved, in the most perfect of ways.
It comforts me to know that this loneliness, this alone-ness, will not last forever. And that in it, inherently, is the presence of God, Who is alone. Who is, perpetually. The ultimately oxymoron of solitude and unrelenting togetherness.
Perhaps we get a taste of that when forced to face ourselves in solitude, in loneliness.
Perhaps its stinging longing for companionship is meant to make us better apt to appreciate Him, and the others around us, and even to appreciate ourselves in ways we never had to before, distracted by the presence of others.
Maybe someday I’ll be able to embrace that bitter, icy burn of being confronted with my oneness.
Perhaps that is where I will see the real me, and learn to love them, too.
Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-wearing-black-cap-sleeved-blouse-2004398/