By Shae Hadden

I’ve always been aware of the distances between people…ever since my
first childhood remembrance of being a being separate from my mother.
Vivid memories of being the last one chosen to be on the team in gym
class translated into a story about being the one assigned to sit on
the sidelines of life while others got to play. I thought I had left
that all behind when I got married at the ripe old age of 28. I was
ready to dive in and live full out. And I thought I did….Until recently.

separated from my spouse after nearly 20 years together, I am, once
again, standing on the sidelines, looking at others playing at the game
of life. My life, so far, has been a ‘holding back’, ‘playing small’,
and living within clear boundaries between myself and almost everyone
else in my life. My spouse was the only person I really was comfortable
being vulnerable with, the only person on the planet I felt any deep
connection to. I’m not talking about physical intimacy…it’s more along
the lines of understanding who I am being emotionally and spiritually.
Since separating from him, I’ve begun a process of inquiry into the
nature of connection. Even now, with many close friends seeing me
through this transition, I find myself left with a strange sense that
we’re not really connecting with each other in a way that’s anywhere
close to the depth and breadth of which I’m capable. I’m surrounded by
their love, but there is something missing. We’ve shared our hopes and
dreams, our laughter and our sadness with each other, but I’m not sure
they actually ‘get’ who I am. I’m still guarded with them…

I’ve buried myself in work, committed myself to taking on seemingly
impossible projects and expanding my world in ways I had never
considered before. I feel more vital, more energized and more in love
with life than ever before….and yet…I wonder.

Can I create connections with people that leave them and me feeling
as if we have shared all that we have offer each other…leaving us both
feeling valued and more alive for that sharing?

What is the purpose of life if not to give of myself unreservedly so that others ‘get’ what I am offering?

I am at sea….floating in a vast expanse filled with people and
possibilities…feeling very much alone. My older female friends—widowed,
separated or divorced—tell me this is what it was and is like for them
also…. They have either given up on finding a deep connection with
another person, or they have chosen to give meaning and value to their
contributions to others through their ‘work’.

Where does the heart of ‘connection’ really lie?

Is it in being valued?

In being accepted and understood?

In feeling some physical, emotional or spiritual attraction to another?

Or is it giving of oneself without any intention of receiving anything in return?

I really don’t know…

What do you think the nature of ‘connection’ is?