Sunday, April 27, 2014

The value in being alone

So, I was reading this blog on Being Alone and #5 really resonated with me, "Learn how to talk to yourself." I've been talking about that a lot on this blog and how I've learned the intrinsic value of self-compassion.

But learning to be alone, especially when you've been co-dependent most of your adult life (okay, all of it), has been a challenge for me. I'm just starting to make peace with it.

I have a couple of friends, ladies who are older than I, who spend much of their time alone--eating alone, spending time alone and missing the physical touch and companionship of a significant other. I never expected that would be age 45. But such is the space that I find myself in at this point in time.

Visiting with a very dear friend over the weekend, I was asked if I was dating anyone "up there" yet. He was referring to my current location in North Florida...up there, where I have a few old friends I'm connected with who are all connected to significant others, kids, etc.

I haven't really found my place "up there" yet and I certainly haven't been looking to date anyone. That time seems like a far off in the future sort of place for me. Right now, I'm trying to acclimate myself to this newfound loneliness.

It's a feeling I haven't experienced since 2000 when I sunk into deep despair. I'm not sinking, not in the least. I'm trying to make the most of every minute of alone time, either enjoying a pursuit I'm passionate about, looking for places to volunteer or talking a walk to gather my thoughs and talk to myself.

Like I said, it's been a challenge for me and not nearly as easy as just taking a walk...but I'm getting there. The hours between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. are the most difficult. That's when I wind down with either some good music, a movie or some TV. I get ready for bed and lie down alone. I lay there in the dark and wonder if I can do this for an extended period of time.

I'm a snuggler by nature, so it is sometimes difficult to get cozy enough for sleep when I'm in the bed alone. Pillows are rarely a good enough substitute. Some nights, I take bourbon to bed to help me relax and doze off, but I don't like to rely on alcohol too much of the time. Other nights, I lay with my journal by my side and try to recapture the highs and lows of the day, what I've learned or remembered or shared. That helps to clear my head of all the clutter, as does paying attention to my breathing and trying other relaxation techniques, but nothing is quite as efficient or effective as someone to hold close, to melt into at that time of the night.

I'm determined to make the most of this alone time, though. To realize that I'm enough to keep myself calm, fulfilled and happy. It's something I've never even tested before. I dated my fiance for 4.5 years before marrying her at age 24. We stayed together 20 years, then I had another relationship right away. No time for me in between. No time to really deal with my separation, what it meant for me personally and no time to heal. That's what I'm finally getting to do now, but it has multiplied due to the loss of two significant others from my life.

You live and learn. I get that. This is my learning curve. I'm learning the value in being alone.

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