Words of Hope: Loneliness Observed

My grandmother grew up in a severely austere home. Her mother did not believe in affection and ruled her family with a no-nonsense mentality. She was one of seven siblings, all male except for a younger sickly sister. Her family viewed her role as a servant to her brothers. She did most of the household chores and was expected to remain silent. Her father never spoke to her personally, and she cannot remember him ever speaking her name.  

Consequently, my grandmother dismissed emotion as superfluous and tender touch, a waste of time. She raised her kids for the neighbors to look impeccable, behave flawlessly, to obey perfectly. But each child struggled deeply with empty loneliness and a feeling of erasure, suffering in silence.

Emotionally distant families interact with stoicism, rigidity, prizing competency, and efficiency over passion, tenderness, and close connection. Touch in these homes is rarely present. Children grow up in isolation and loneliness. Perfection and image become tantamount to loneliness often eliminating honesty, openness, intimacy, and vulnerability. My Mom was headed in this direction without the interception of my Dad. Dad lived connected to emotion, loving touch, and kind words. He helped Mom create a family that was not emotionally distant. Mom worked hard to overcome her fear of emotion and the need to be perfect. There was such a dread of making a mistake. Mistakes are a necessary part of loving and living. It’s dangerous when more energy goes into avoiding mistakes rather than learning, healing, and growing from them. I am thankful for Dad and Mom worked on healing this generational trauma of distance and severity that leads to loneliness.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18