Dear Rachel,

During my journey of becoming more observant, I’ve been very close to a certain family—always sleeping there for Shabbat, staying up late talking with them, calling them when I have questions. Now I feel like they don’t have as much time for me anymore. I feel rejected and lonely.

Dear Awesome Woman,

The teshuvah journey is complex and can be lonely. When we meet people whom we connect with closely, it makes the path so much easier. Here are some ideas that can help you with your feelings of loneliness and rejection.

Look to Broaden Your Scope

Keep in mind that people go through things and you are not always privy to the details. For myself, there are times when I am able to engage a lot with others, and times when I need more privacy because of what G‑d is bringing into my life.

Can you broaden the range of people who can be your mentors and Shabbat hosts? That way, if one is not available, you can turn to another.

Also, keep in mind that during different times in your life, different mentors will be needed. Life and relationships change, and the more that we are aware of that, the better we will flow with the ups and downs.

Turn to Your Source to Ask for Help

Remember that G‑d is the true Source of everything, and just as He has provided you with one family that you have been close to, He can provide you with more. Practice turning to G‑d when you need something and ask for His help.

When I was looking for a new doctor, I did my research and called around, but I also said, “G‑d, I know that you are the one who provides me with what I need, and now I need to find a doctor who is kind, has good energy, and most importantly, great skill. Thank you!”

You can do the same in this situation.

Self-Care and Joyful Activities

It’s important to make yourself happy. Though we need other people in our lives—friends, family, mentors—the joy we can create on our own is crucial for our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Make sure that you are doing things you love and sprinkle those throughout your week.

Walks in nature, going to the gym or the pool, and even dancing to music are options to uplift your energy. When your mood is lighter, loneliness has fewer opportunities to sneak in.

Are there ways to bring more kind people into your life? Perhaps joining classes will help. Even if they are on Zoom, you could easily meet others on a similar life journey.

Acknowledge Your Disappointment and Step Into Gratitude

When we don’t get what we ask for, it can mean that even though we feel we “need” something, G‑d has a different plan or different timing. This can be disappointing and frustrating to our very human selves.

Take time to feel that disappointment in your body; these are very real emotions. Putting your hands on your chest and bowing forward into the grief for a few seconds acknowledges the physical sensation of the loss. It is OK to mourn the loss and distance of this family. Then stretch upwards and bring your arms out to the sides. Take up space and feel your empowerment to move on with G‑d’s help. Step into gratitude that you found this family in the first place and be appreciative to the family for that as well.

Open Up to Your Mentors

Once you’ve tried these suggestions, you may feel less lonely. Hopefully, this will be felt as an energetic shift in your body. At this point, you may choose to open up to them about the distance you’re feeling.

Sometimes, these kinds of conversations are worth having because the feedback we get can be life-changing. Perhaps you were leaning a bit too much on this family. Perhaps they are going through something that is difficult for them. If you approach with soft and gentle energy, this conversation may bring awareness as well as a closer connection.

A conversation could go like this:

You: Thank you so much for all you’ve done for me. I really appreciate the talks that we’ve had and the many Shabbats that I’ve spent by you. You’ve been so giving of your time and energy. I’ve loved the warmth and connection that I have felt here, and I hope one day to have my own family and do the same for others on their journey. I’m just wondering if you felt that I leaned on you too much, or if I took too much of your time and energy? I’m feeling a slight distance between us, and I apologize if I’ve done anything that has been disrespectful or draining to you. If there has been anything that I did, I’d like to understand and make amends.

Life and relationships are a series of changes, and so are your feelings and actions. Keep in mind that you are resilient and strong, making a very powerful transition. Give yourself kindness, hugs, and high fives—yes, literally—along the way.