It seems like I have been lonely my whole life.
To tell you the truth, I have never felt like I've fit in anywhere.
In high school and college, I was a football player (a pretty good one), but I never felt comfortable in that role and that world.
So when it ended, the transition was drastic.
I thought I knew who I was, but instead, I was left with a vacuum in my life.
I filled that vacuum with running and a woman I would date longer than any other woman in my life.
There were days I knew she was the one I would marry, but time after time, we hit roadblocks.
Despite having deep and enduring feelings for each other, we were convinced we just couldn’t be together.
Through that time after college and with that woman, my remaining friends all got married, leaving me alone in the world of solidarity.
It is hard to describe the new emptiness I felt when the woman I had filled my previous vacancy with was gone.
The hole was deeper, and it's still there.
I feel utterly alone.
With all my friends married, I was left without friends I could relate to and be social with as a single guy looking for a partner.
I say partner because I am not looking for a girlfriend or a wife.
I’m looking for someone who can be more, someone I can stand and face the world with.
It would be just us against it all.
In my search for new friends, I started to socialize with the younger sister of one of my married friends.
She was only a year younger than me, but it seemed the gap was much larger.
I helped her find a place to live right next to where I was living at the time, and it was when we were neighbors that I plunged into a very dark moment in my life.
I was the loneliest I had ever felt. There was no hope.
I was failing at my dream of being a writer.
The woman I loved more than any other person in my life was gone.
I had no friends. I wanted to give up.
My friend’s little sister was the only lifeline I could see, and she responded.
She comforted me and helped me out of that night to a day where there was just enough hope.
I thought I had made a lifetime friend in my friend’s sister.
The one thing that shocked me out of my desperate depression was the admission she had also felt lonely throughout her whole life.
It was hard for me to believe.
This woman was beautiful, outgoing, fun, smart and kind.
I would get jealous of her at times because of all the people who were attracted to her.
It seemed as if she had more friends than I could imagine.
But she was lonely.
She would cry herself to sleep at times.
She had to fake it sometimes when she went out.
It was her loneliness and my loneliness that created a connection between us.
I felt less lonely knowing that someone else was feeling just as lonely.
At the moment I am writing this, I have ostracized my friend’s sister from my life.
Recently I was in another dark moment.
It wasn't as dark as the last, but I was hurting.
In my solitude, I attempted to have my friend’s sister help me.
But I was selfish, and it pushed her away.
I was alone again.
With no other perceived choice, I reached out to my married friends, and to their credit, they helped me, despite having families of their own to worry about.
The moment is in the past, but I know another one will inevitably come.
Today I went for a run, as I do every day.
I went on one of my favorite spots on the foothill of the mountain that backdrops the valley where I live.
The sun was nearing sunset as I passed the tree.
The tree I am talking about is one that stands alone next to a dirt road. It is a small tree, but it looks ancient.
As I ran, I looked back and behind the tree, the sun burst from a haze that had built up in the valley from afternoon wind.
The sun exploded in yellow radiance, and the tree stretched out to the sky with branches like arms reaching for some unseen companion.
The silhouette of the tree burned itself into my mind.
It was alone, but beautiful in its solitude.
I might have learned something, but it will take time to know for sure.
This is what I hope I learned:
There are a few things in life that seem impossible to describe, yet they are things everyone has experienced.
We are crowded by loneliness, but if we catch the light at just right at the right time, we can see beauty in standing alone and being immutably unique.