DEAR FRIENDS -- A friend of mine is struggling to confront and transform a lifetime of loneliness. In a recent email she poured her heart out to me about her despair of ever finding love and ending her sorrow. Perhaps you who are reading this share her experience. Personally I have never met anyone who hasn't struggled with loneliness in a powerful way. I would like to share with you the words of comfort and compassion with which I replied. In relating the story of my own victory over loneliness and despair, I hope that my experience can be of help to you. WITH MUCH LOVE -- BRYAN "Dear __ - I know what you mean about loneliness -- how it just weeps and aches like a wound that will never heal. And to quiet the despair you cling to the illusion that the arrival of your soul mate will wash away the tears and fill the emptiness forever. This fantasy is born from the longing of the child we once were, waiting for the love that never came. But the truth is that the hole in our hearts can never be filled by another person. The loneliness that threatens to drown us comes from our disconnection from ourselves. We don't breathe freely, so our bodies feel hollow. We don't embrace the fullness of our anger, our sorrow, our joy -- so our hearts grow empty. We don't recognize our own beauty, seeing who we are with the eyes of love -- and so our spirits shrink and our gladness dies away. For many years of my life I was devoured by my aloneness. Weeping and sleepless through anguished nights, bleeding out my life through endless longing. On the streets I searched strangers' eyes for a connection I could never find. My whole drive was turned outward, when my only hope was to turn inwards. At the bottom of my darkness I began to realize that it was my endless self-criticism and inability to warmly accept myself that was leaving me empty and abandoned. I didn't need a lover -- I needed me. In an instant of vivid clarity I saw that I needed to be as devoted to caring for myself as a Mother and Father are to their newborn child. I woke up, and re-building my life's foundation through self-love became my path to salvation. As I grew in self-love and self-discovery my loneliness faded away. The frustration and emptiness of waiting for another had been replaced by the satisfaction and completion of connecting to me. Before my awakening I could never have imagined this state of grace beyond loneliness. This joy and peace are very real and your own grace is waiting inside you to be discovered. I love you and I'll be there for you as you learn to love yourself. Keep seeing your beauty and giving yourself all the tenderness you need. Soon those tears are going to dry and you'll be home in your heart. Love, Bry"