One is the Loneliest Number Continued … I might be alone, but I’m not lonely
My alarm went off at 5 am this morning. I am one of those people. The ones who get up early and exercise before starting the day. As I hit snooze, rubbed my bleary eyes, attempting to embrace the new day and shake off the last remnants of my sleepy time dreams, I noted a medium sized dark dot on my bedroom ceiling. It wasn’t there when I went to bed the previous night, but I recognized it and I knew exactly what that black dot meant. There was an undetermined bug on my ceiling. In my bedroom. Dangerously close to being directly over my bed. Damn. I hate bugs. And if that black dot turns out to be a spider, the decision to quarantine it in my room, attempt to kill it or simply burn the place down, would need to be debated. Thankfully it wasn’t a spider, but it still needed to go. As I stood on my bed and threw multiple shoes at it, I thought to myself, this is what sucks about living alone. Dealing with the “wildlife” all by myself.
Just over two years ago, I returned to Vancouver after being out of the country for several years. My return to my city was based on two reasons; first, I missed it. I’m a West Coast girl and, after living in the Caribbean, I craved wearing jeans and hoodies again. Second, my long term relationship, which brought us to the tropical climate together, ended. I returned on my own and excited to get back to Vancouver. A week after returning and securing a place to live, I was sitting on the floor of my new living room, surrounded by boxes and approximately a gabillion pieces of a brand new Ikea couch. Armed with a screwdriver, the typical Ikea Allen Key and (in hindsight) an overabundance of optimism, I took the assembly instructions and began to build my brand new couch. I couldn’t wait to sit on the couch and watch Netflix with a glass of wine that night. Two hours later, and nearly in tears, I was nowhere near sitting on my new couch…although I was already drinking that glass of wine. I grabbed my cell phone and texted my single girlfriend, who coincidently had the same couch, the text exchange looked something like this…
Me: How did you get your couch together? It’s been hours and it’s so heavy and confusing…
Her: Well I’m single and I wanted to sit on a couch. Do you want to sit on a couch?
Her: Time for you to put on your big girl pants and get it done!
*Sigh* Another two hours later and I was consuming the rest of that bottle of wine on my newly built couch. Not long after that I was on fire. I built a TV stand, wired some new ceiling lights and took off a door to manage moving large furniture in and out of a smaller room. I began to love living on my own and feeling independent and capable.
Being alone was fantastic! I spent time getting to know myself again. I used quiet time to reflect on the lessons I learned and get in touch with my soul. I wanted to know who I was on a deeper level. Many of those pieces I had lost in my previous relationship. Going forward, I wanted to know who I was, what I wanted and what type of quality I was willing to accept into my life. These are the pieces that counsellors, psychologists and the plethora of self-help literature support, as the benefits of being alone. Learning how to be alone with yourself and content. Learning how to be capable and secure. Learning who you are and what you want; what you are willing to accept, not accept and staying true to yourself. Now that I know these things…or at least I’ve got a solid foundation…being alone has gotten somewhat “old”.
I don’t mind being alone. But I fear being lonely. In light of recent literature and studies on the ill effects of loneliness on health, I wanted to know what that meant to me. I live on my own and, every now and then, feel the dark creep of loneliness. I have spoken previously about these studies that show that being lonely, living alone and being social isolated are hazardous to your health. We, as humans, are wired to be social beings. We require social connection. And I would go so far as to say, close, intimate relationships, are a fundamental human need. It is accepted however, that being alone does not automatically mean you are lonely. Just as being in a relationship does not protect against feeling lonely.
What is it about loneliness that I fear? It’s the dark, inescapable, panic-inducing feeling that originates in, what I would call, my solar plexus. It is complex and all consuming. It affects my heart, gut and mind. We all know that our mind is not always based in reality; or our thoughts in fact. The Loneliness, creeps in and tells you that you are alone, no one cares and you will never find someone to love you. It’s lying. I occasionally feel lonely, but have found tools to combat this feeling now.
I identify the feeling and remind myself that it’s temporary.
I practice being present in the moment and being compassionate with myself.
I reach out to my friends and family, and talk about it, which creates connection.
I journal and write about it.
I eat popcorn and watch Netflix and find satisfaction in my new found capabilities
For the last few years, I have loved living in my own space and not having to compromise on anything…decorating, tidiness, separating the laundry, eating popcorn and diet Coke for dinner. This morning however, I would have been happy to have someone around to kill that bug. Can I do it on my own? Yes. Did I take care of the problem on my own? Yes. Do I want to do it all alone? No. As a social being, I would love to find someone to build a life with and have them kill the bugs. And I feel grateful that my search is coming from a space of wanting to connect and share, and not from needing that person to escape The Loneliness.
I am ready to compromise. I am ready to share my life. And I am ready to share my space…well everything except my closet!