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Monday, January 9, 2012

Becoming One With Being Alone

When my daughter left for college several years ago I was bereft. Just ask the woman (who has since become a dear friend) who comforted me in an aerobic dance class when I dissolved into tears the day after I'd dropped her off.

I was in my 40s yet I had never lived alone. My sons had departed, and I clung to her like a life preserver not knowing who I was if I wasn't taking care of someone. Off to college myself at 17, dropping out and moving in with a boyfriend at 18, and married at 20 I had never, ever lived alone. The prospect of it terrified me.

My coping strategy involved to stay as busy as possible and to be home only when necessary - like for bathing and sleeping. Thankfully I did not jump into a series of bad relationships, men were not my drug of choice, achievement was. I went back to school, took on an internship, started a novel, joined a writing group and worked out relentlessly.

I'll not delve into how run down and sick I was by that June, let's just say I didn't handle it well.

As we fast forward to 2012 I have made peace with living alone. At times quite enjoying it. I hadn't realized how at peace I'd become until this past week when all three of my children and my brother descended upon my usually quiet writer-retreat type lifestyle. For someone who never wanted to live alone I seemed to have taken to it quite well.

As a writer I need a certain amount of time to myself and quiet. By the time the sons and brother left, leaving me with the daughter who is not unlike me in needing space, I was exhausted, and in desperate need of not wanting to talk to anyone. For at least a couple of hours. I hunkered down in my bedroom, quietly going over emails, and began to feel my overwhelmed brain start to unwind. Given that space ideas came to me (other than what to make for dinner and how i should throw in a load of laundry) and I felt myself returning to a more balanced place.

I have spent my entire adult life surrounded by others,which probably means something about having been afraid to face myself etc etc. Finally, at this stage of mid-life I've made peace with solitude. Believe me, I don't want it 24/7. I make sure I see people every single day.I am friendly, sociable and love people. I have just learned that to be happy and balanced I need time by myself.

Once in a while this need for alone time has made me wonder if I could ever lean into a full-time partnership with someone - could I marry again? Live with a love? I believe I could. I think if I loved someone enough to decide to share a domicile we would know each other well enough that he would understand my need for space.

And if he didn't get it right away, he certainly would when I stopped talking and closed the door in his face. But just for an hour or so.If he really loves me he'll get it.

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