Alone: having no one else present, on one’s own. The definition of alone sounds a bit lonely at first. I have found out recently that lonely to one person is not necessarily the same for another. The truth is, I like being alone and it takes a lot for me to truly feel lonely. This recent discovery came after my long-distance relationship ended. I knew he was not handling the distance well but I also knew he had other issues he was working through that had nothing to do with me and maybe that is the real key to being alone and being okay. I am happy with myself, my path, my life in general. I am ready to accept another into my world and share it but I don’t have to have someone. I think sometimes people are lonely and any warm body will do to keep from dealing with the thoughts and feelings they are avoiding. Being alone means sitting with those thoughts and processing your shit. Being alone means not having to constantly be entertained because you have interests that keep you entertained. I can read, research, cook, clean, watch TV, garden, tend to my pets or plants, organize, write…spend days doing things that do not involve another person. I understand this may not be healthy after some length of time, but the ability to do it and not feel lonely is healthy.
I go out to lunch with friends, have coffee, get dinner and drinks, and other activities in my life. I visit my parents farm and interact socially. I am not a hermit. I think the key word here is balance. Balance includes a healthy variety of friends and family and alone time. If you are not getting quality time socializing with others that can be bad but not having the ability to be alone is also bad. This recent relationship had many warning signs that grew over time. It saddens me because it also had many wonderful qualities. It is hard to let someone go when you see them struggling, especially as a therapist. I have to remind myself that it is not my job to fix him. We agreed to be friends and here I am on a Friday night wondering what is next in my book of life? I admit, I am tired. I am starting to make peace with myself and my goals and become more and more comfortable with the idea of remaining alone. It seems dating and relationships have lost their magic for me. The times when couples would be miles apart and only write letters and get the occasional phone call but still stay in love are long gone. Attention 24/7 is often desired. People have no patience or grit to hang in and work for long term goals. Instant gratification and keeping score of who gives what and how much can often be the bigger focus than learning someones heart and their hopes for the future.
It is disheartening but I have not lost hope, but for now I do believe I am quite happy just being alone.
I had a discussion recently with a friend of mine where he has been in love with a girl for a couple of years now but she is unwilling to commit to just him. One of his responses as the conversation progressed was that he just gets so lonely. It really made me think later about my own situation. I have been divorced and living on my own for a long time now and the only time I really felt loneliness creep in is when I was feeling really bad about my life. Even with my breakup 4 months ago (we did not live together) I have felt many feelings and emotions but lonely was not one of them. I look at my time outside of a relationship as freedom. I see it as an opportunity to reflect on where I am right now, what I have learned, and how I plan to move forward. I understand the grieving process after a break-up requires time to be sad and I fully embrace allowing yourself to wallow for a short period in that sadness and heartbreak. Once you have given yourself time to work through it, (I have heard a month for every year you were in it and that has really worked for me), then you should start to push yourself to explore what comes next.
Perspective is everything and when I look at my friend and his situation I just get frustrated. It makes it hard to be supportive to a person who is choosing crap every single day. Are you really so lonely that you prefer to just be someones number two over being your own number one? Why do people act like being single after 40 or 50 is such a sad situation? So sad that you are willing to settle? I feel like my forties is when many things really started falling into place and making sense to me. My morals, values, beliefs, goals, finances, relationships with family and friends all really started showing fruit from my labor. My daughter has turned 18 and graduated high school and started college so I am even more free to come and go as I please. I am more clear about who I am and the woman I want to grow to be as I move forward. I am more clear on my career goals and financial game plan as I move forward, and I am more clear on the kind of relationships I want in my life. I am also paying attention to my mental, emotional and physical health more at this stage in my life.
There are so many aspects of being single that are positive to me that I never even considered the word lonely, I often referred to it as being free. Free to eat what I want, when I want, free to stay home instead of going out, free to watch television or read a book, free to go to lunch or have coffee with a friend. I was free to do all of those things in a relationship but there is a different kind of freedom when you don’t have to explain your choices to anyone. You can decide at the last minute exactly what you plan to do without having to consider anyone else. If I want to wake up an hour early and write I don’t have to worry about disturbing another person. If I want to vacuum my living room and do laundry at 11 p.m. I can, without consideration for anyone but my pets. The ability to see the positives and focus on the opportunities in your current situation is the difference between those of us who are constantly growing and those who just remain stagnant in life. I often speak of taking personal responsibility for your health, choices, finances, relationships…this also means looking at your perspective on situations. Are you choosing to look at certain situations only one way? Change your perspective and you could change your whole life.
At this moment and time I have no desire to pursue a relationship. I have only been apart from my ex for about 4 months and I am just now starting to pull out of the grief process. I understand that I have my own stuff to work on and work through but I am excited about it. I am learning so much about myself and constantly getting better in every aspect. When I am ready to move forward and start dating I know I will be a healthy and happy individual that will only add to another persons life and I hope he is out there doing the same!