How I Found Myself on the Ego’s Playground…All Alone

In this digital age, it’s important to remember that everyone has challenges and that life is not always how it appears.

When perusing social media highlight reels, it’s easy to assume that everyone’s got it better than you. And when you don’t share what’s bringing you down, others can assume you are just fine when in fact, you are not.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to go inward when faced with challenges. It’s the introvert in me. Recently, though, I took it too far and ended up isolating myself and inadvertently pushing away the people who love me most. It wasn’t intentional. Quite honestly, it’s pretty easy to do when juggling work, a side hustle, kids, and other responsibilities. I just found myself there.

Isolation is no joke. Think about it! There is a reason why solitary confinement is considered a form of extreme punishment and drives people to their breaking point.

Isolation is the ego’s playground, whereby the ego is the insufferable bully who won’t let you be. It’s a dark, slippery slope where scripts begin to form, and fear sets in your mind. It can even make you forget who you are or how valuable and powerful you are. What the ego won’t tell you is that scripts can always be torn up and rewritten anytime you choose. It wants you to believe you are powerless, when you are anything but.

If isolation is the ego’s playground, then friendship is the soul’s playground. It’s sunny and bright there. It feels safe. It’s reaching out and connecting to others. Unlike isolation, friendship is oneness in its most beautiful form: UNITED, because life was never intended to be lived alone.

How did I get out of isolation? It took one friend reaching out and just listening. As I poured everything out to her, she repeatedly insisted, “You are so loved. Why are you not reaching out? You are so loved.”

She didn’t try to solve my problem. She didn’t judge it. She echoed those words, which drove me to tears. She was right! But I didn’t want to burden anyone. Sharing seemed overwhelming to me because I had let it all build up in my mind.

I had allowed this issue…this obstacle…to become bigger than me. And when I would glance at those damned highlight reels on my social media feeds, it just seemed to me that everyone else was on the other playground—the sunnier one with no bullies. Why would anyone want to listen to my woes? Who could possibly understand when they are whooping it up on their vacations, getting all of their children to smile while looking at the camera? I mean, really, who can do that?!

Soon after that meeting with my friend, our other friends reached out to me. That alone made me feel so supported. Then the universe got wind of this, and I found myself running into different friends quite randomly: once while out on a run and then again when my friend who lives out of state showed up on my doorstep. Just last week, I was able to catch up with yet another friend whose child happened to be in the same activity as mine.

Sharing struggles with friends may not solve problems, but it makes us feel supported and less alone. When connected with my friends, I feel loved, and when I feel loved, I am invincible. I may not be any further in making my way through a challenge, but I feel so much lighter about it when sharing with my peeps.

The other thing I realized was that the highlight reels were just that. My friends had challenges and struggles of their own. Yes, the very same ones whooping it up with their perfectly smiling families and their amazing vacations. Big, seemingly insurmountable problems—if they were to take them on alone. But we shared, we unloaded, and our combined burdens seemed far less threatening.

No matter what is happening or what our current circumstances are, life does go on. But how it goes on is ultimately up to us.

What has all this taught me? That there is still joy to be had, that self-care is our number one priority, and that humor is a must. And that baring your soul over a bottle of Veuve with homemade chocolate chip cookies with a friend is not only perfectly acceptable, but strongly recommended.

We cannot let this life break us. We have the privilege of choice. We can choose, from moment to moment, to be happy or grateful, or at the very least, appreciate how strong we are. We have the freedom to set boundaries and put our needs first. We have the power to reach out and pull a friend from the menacing grip of isolation into loving arms.

We are all in this crazy, messy life together, and together, we rise, we overcome, and we go on. So please disconnect from those highlight reels and reconnect with your herd. I promise that as soon as you do, you’ll find yourself on that sunnier playground no matter what you are dealing with.

If any of you can you relate, please leave a comment below and share as much detail as possible in your reply. So many like-minded souls come here each week for insight and inspiration. Your story may help someone else find the courage to reach out.

Previously published here.

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About the Author | Carolyn Duarte

Carolyn Duarte is a girl on the run! Like most moms, she is constantly on the go. Trying to make a few dollars here, pick up a child there, occasionally going for a soul-cleansing run or squeezing in a yoga class between self-replenishing loads of laundry. (She ponders, "Why doesn't that happen to my bank account???") Carolyn is best known for being a kind friend, loving mama, great listener, spiritual enthusiast, and self-proclaimed personal-development addict. She shares her life's musings as a single mama on her blog Girl on the Run and is a co-founder of Inspired Elephant.

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2 comments to "How I Found Myself on the Ego’s Playground…All Alone"

  • Octavia

    My Name is Octavia . I am a 24 year old mother of two trying to “find myself” . I have definitely isolated myself from the world, I’m not big on accepting affection but I can give it .. but I’m my heart I long for it and i don’t know what to do about it .. I don’t have many people to vent to and I don’t have many open arms to pull me out of my isolation. I do have my children. I had gotten a therapist because I just felt like my depression was taking over , Altho it helped to talk to her it is still a struggle day to day.. I have been going through sooo much , my relationship( still with my children’s father) and that is really rocky at the moment. I have our LO 24/7 and this momma is Drained they are ages 2&4 .. we don’t live together , I found a way to get our family together and he denied my offer because of his business he is trying to run .. now all the responsibility falls on me , he does not help me financially & when I ask about money he never has any. I really just feel like giving up you know ? I feel drained like I have nothing left in me but I know that’s not true. I know I am strong and I have the will power to push myself to be my greatest but it’s hard. I have no relationship with my mother nor my father so I’m going through life will absolutely no role model but relying on knowing right from wrong .. sometimes I just need 20 second of insane encouragement, i am the go to for others but when I need nobody ever sees and that hurts so bad.. I just want to pull myself out of this depression and blossom into who I deserve to be

    • Carolyn

      Hi Octavia!
      First of all, thank you so much for sharing and reaching out. It takes so much courage to do that.
      You said you need 20 seconds of insane encouragement — Girl, I hope to give you that and more! So here we go:

      You are strong (you said it yourself!). You matter. You are loved. Your babies are so blessed to have you as their mom. You got this. You are a rock star and I believe in you!

      Octavia, I get that you are drained. Being a mom is a great joy and privilege, but can also sap our energy. It truly takes a village and it sounds to me like you need to find yours. Can you look into local playgroups? How about friends or neighbors? In my experience, I have found that other moms get how hard it can be and will be so supportive. You can even offer to babysit each other’s kids in exchange for some grown-up time — even if that grown-up time just means taking a nap or going for a walk.

      You mention that you are the “go-to” for others but when you need, no one sees. Octavia, I bet everyone thinks you are cool as a cucumber and are ok. It may take opening up to them and letting them know that you need some help too. The fact they come to you tells me you are reliable, and so kind and giving. I’m sure if they knew that you are struggling, they’d want to be there for you too.

      I know it’s hard but please be willing to let them in and here’s why: It is a huge relief to bare your soul. It actually feels good and is good for you! When you release all of your fears, resentment, sadness — you are emptying yourself and thereby becoming a receptacle for love, kindness and compassion to come flooding back in.

      There is a saying…”You can’t pour from an empty vessel.” Being a mom to Little Ones takes a lot of giving and this is one way – a sure-fire way to refill your cup and not feel so isolated.

      And once you allow all that into your life, you slowly realize that somehow, someday, you are going to be ok. In fact, you are already blossoming into the person you deserve to be. That person is a stronger, wiser version of you.

      I also applaud your step in going to therapy. I’m not sure if you are still going but therapy is an outlet for you. It’s an hour dedicated to YOU. YOU deserve that.

      Octavia, I hope this was helpful. Please know that I am rooting for you.

      With love and many hugs,