The Echo in the Void or why Loneliness is an Asset

LightlineIn Berlin more people live alone than in relationships or families. It seems the German capital is also the capital of the German singles. And I can’t help but wonder if they are all lonely. Or are they so busy they don’t feel the loneliness that might spread slowly through their souls? Maybe I am completely wrong and no one here is lonely at all?


My life experience has taught me differently. I deeply believe humans want to be in close relationships. We not only need warmth, a shoulder to lean on, a significant other to talk to, … no. Life is a tough ride, too tough to do it on our own. We need support. And apart from that we want to be heard, seen, and mean something to someone.

So, what is wrong with us? Why do we constantly pass each other unnoticed while we are always on the lookout for the one? Why do we separate so quickly and get really involved with each other so slowly?

What are we so afraid of? And what do we want from each other that is so impossible to be given that we always end up disappointed and hurt?

I know my own share of loneliness. In fact, I know an awful lot about it.

Shadow and LightMy mother gave me all she could. Which wasn’t much. Which was not enough. But it was all this woman traumatized in more than one way in World War II could offer. It was all she could do while she was trying so hard to not come undone completely. And it didn’t help that my mother, so occupied with and ruled by death, suddenly had to deal with this very lively daughter, a whirlwind so hungry for adventure and life, so curious, so in touch with all her senses and willing to try it all.

A daughter who wanted all life could offer and a mother who had seen life at it worst and therefor couldn’t live on unless she closed herself up and went dead inside. Certainly not a match made in heaven.

I was a lonely little thing. I invented people, friends. In my head I wrote stories before I could write my first word.

For many years of my life writing was what saved me. I could deal with my pain transfering reality into art – the pain I was born with, that grew inside of me as if the main focus of my bodily growth was to give that hole inside of me more space to widen. My fiction helped me keep all the sanity I ever owned while in my reality I added disappointment to disappointment, lined up heartbreak after heartbreak, and multiplied mistrust by relationships gone wrong.

For a very, very long time I thought of my loneliness as a black hole that can never be filled, no matter how much love this many people throw into it. Until I realized it can’t be filled, no, this black hole can never be filled. And I will indeed be lonely for the rest of my life if I don’t start to understand  that my relationships – with friends and lovers – go wrong just because I always hope this one now, this person is the one who will fill this whole black hole or, to put it in plain text, I expect something that no one can give. Because I’m wrong.

LightsThis eternal dark space of loneliness inside of me is not a hole. It’s a void, a large one. In fact it’s so huge that it feels empty but it’s not. On the contrary, there is a lot stored in all those far corners and shadows of this hidden room of my soul. And because the void is so huge it has the most beautiful echo. I  just have to be still and listen because this is where my characters and their stories come from. And who knows what else I will find there if I dare to face the dark and the echos in there a little longer, a little quieter, and stop wanting to find someone who can fill it.

My void is mine, yours is yours. I think we all have one. It’s the place where our essences can be found as well as what we lack. And as soon as we start to stop expecting someone else to mend us and look at our scars as a proof that fighting is worth the effort there is a very good possibility that we won’t be disappointed by the one we love any longer.

So, embrace your void. It’s your treasure. Dare to show it. Don’t be afraid.

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