Nefertari Williams: My Fight to Combat Loneliness

Nefertari Williams portrait. Black activist for women's heart health
Nefertari Williams. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2023  

Text by Nefertari Williams,  Copyright 2023


Styling by KVaughn

Hair and Makeup by Octavia Williams


My Fight to Overcome Loneliness


It was over. I looked across the table and found the courage to tell my husband that I felt it was time to end the marriage. 

I had a very difficult childhood. I (so I thought) was an only child and was raised by a disabled single mother who was in her late thirties when when she had me. We didnt have much but we did have each other. We spent a lot of our time playing cute games like I spy with my little eye”. But she often didnt feel well so I was left to entertain myself most of the time. 

As I entered my teenage years I began to understand and respect the power of contentment. Its ok to just be ok. Not happy, not sad – just content. Dont get me wrong, I was a bubbly person (it was probably mostly nervous energy) but it served me well all the same. Once I found my appreciation for contentment I promised myself that I would not allow myself to be in any situation that would cause me to be unhappy. 

I made it through highschool where I even learned how to find joy in making achievements. It felt nice but Id always remember that those feelings are fleeting but contentment didnt have to be if I learned how to answer a few simple questions in my mind. Are you safe ?”….. Did you eat ?” ……. Are you free ?”.  Id ask myself these questions if ever I felt myself feeling sad because I didnt have, like so many of my classmates and co workers, a large family at home to share my life with. 

Sleeping never came easy for me. By the time I graduated from highschool I realized I laid awake for hours pondering on issues that most 18 year olds probably even gave a second thought. One night I had to re-examine my theory on contentment. Was it enough? Was I settling for this content lifestyle when deep down I longed for more. I wanted companionship. So, I met a nice guy and when he chose not to use a condom one day, I didnt protest. Early that next spring, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. 

Motherhood is amazing. You get to have a beautiful little life to love unconditionally for hopefully the rest of your life. However I soon realized that was not enough. My soul was longing for more. I had a boyfriend, I had friends and I had a mother but I realized that I had not taken the time to build a bond with this young man who now had to work while in college to help take care of our new baby so he had even less time to spend with me. 

I am a deeply spiritual person so I would find myself, while my baby was sleeping and in between community college classes and work shifts pondering over my purpose of existing. I even sank so low as to ask God why I was brought into this life only to have such a lonely existence. 

Years past, I eventually got married and gave birth to 3 more beautiful babies. I love being a mom to them. But I soon realized that I repeated history. I never took time to build a bond with the man that I chose to marry. It didnt take long for the loneliness to settle in again. 

By this time I was in my middle 30s and my mother had suffered a massive stroke leaving her unable to speak. I couldnt help but question God again. Why was I left with now no one to talk to. How could this happen. Well if that pity party hadnt been a hoot more disturbing news. Nine months into my 5th pregnancy I suffered a massive heart attack leaving me with a very damaged heart and a weak body. 

My baby and I survived that horrifying ordeal but the fight was not over. On the day that I was released to go home to my family was the day that I realized that all of my feelings of loneliness were not in vein. 

Being disabled, in so many cases go hand and hand with being lonely. I had dealt with both for years so when the opportunity arose for me to help others who better to understand the flight other than me. 

I chose to use this new thing called social media to help people make a connection during times of loneliness. I, with the help of my cousin who lived in another state, chose to set us a platform where people can join, post a picture and chat with each other. I called it IN THIS TOGETHER”. It was an instant hit on Facebook. I didnt make any money but it brought me so much joy scrolling around the World Wide Web looking for people who may just want to make friends, may want a spouse, may enjoy conversation or may be lonely. 

I started the group about a week after telling my husband of many years that I wanted out of our marriage. I had to try to see if taking time to meet someone and build a bond with what God had in store for me. I had to find out if maybe contentment was ok but was it enough with in a marriage. I didnt know the answers to that. I had seen people who seemed to be totally In Love” with in their marriage and it didnt look like my marriage. 

So today, 11 years after setting up a site to help combat loneliness I have been told that the group has produced thousands of friendships, hundreds of marriages and couples (even some oops babies) yet the the quest to defeat loneliness still evades us. 

The saga continues. Why are so many Americans feeling so lonely? 


About The Author:  Nefertari Williams is a jewelry maker, activist for women with heart disease and the mother of five beautiful children.  She lives in Willingboro, New Jersey.  This is Ms. Williams first contribution to Tony Ward Studio.

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