“YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO BE ALONE.”
Oh, for the number of times I’ve been told that. There’s some truth to that statement; it’s still something I need to be better at, and there’s several reasons why I don’t like being alone. Another post for another time might explore why that is — lord knows I’ve explored it for years!
Ultimately, however, at this stage in my life, I don’t want to be by myself, I want to be in a relationship. But currently, the way things have evolved in a certain situation, that’s not to be. Which I have to be o.k. with. At the moment, though initially I thought I would be o.k. with it, I’m not, because it was such a great situation with a truly great person. Someone who I’ve come to miss an awful lot. All of which makes being alone more of a struggle. It’s a good time for radical acceptance, to be sure.
It’s important to note that not wanting to be alone is not why I want to be with someone.
I often wonder why people who care about me think that I need to “learn how to be alone.” For me, it’s not such a binary choice – as if it’s simply a choice I don’t want to make — to not be in a relationship, vs. being in one, because I don’t like being alone.
The word “alone” can infer that one is lonely. I don’t always feel lonely when I’m by myself, despite the fact that being alone can often trigger sadness/depression and anxiety. Sadness because being alone often means I’ll ruminate on the past and people in the past, and why I’m alone, all mixed with a nice helping of guilt and beating the crap out of myself about it all. Anxiety because I’ll start thinking of the future and if that will be like the present — by myself. Who says time travel doesn’t exist? For me, it often does, going back to the past and fast-forwarding to the future.
When I’m alone that’s a big key for me : the present. More specifically, being present. When I’m in a relationship, and it’s going well, I can do that. There’s the fun and the feeling good of being with that person, enjoying that, and having things to look forward to with that person. The truth is, I’m happiest when I’m with someone – even if there’s been times I didn’t recognize it while I was with someone.
Why can’t there be plenty of things to enjoy by myself in the present, right now? And things to look forward to, whether I’m by myself, or not? Maybe, the trick is not to look too far forward when looking forward to things…because then I start thinking, “will there be someone there with me?” It’s about being present, in the now. It’s all not easy for me to do.
A professional who knows about these things told me recently that whether I’m alone or not, but especially when I’m by myself, it’s about building and having a rich life. Not rich monetarily, but rich with experiences and happiness in my life — those things needn’t be dependent on having someone else there with me. Indeed, its sometimes easy to forget that my life is rich already — I do have a lot to be thankful for and enjoy, and it could and should be filled with more great things, people, and events. It’s those things that are tough to remember when I’m distracted by being alone, trying not to get caught up in why I’m currently alone, and who I’m not with. That’s a big distraction, often. The sadness that comes about from that can quell that motivation to keep building a rich life. It can be a struggle.
Making my life richer has been been an ongoing project, that which was so much fun and so productive in the recent relationship. Not to dwell on it here, but we did a lot, and had a lot of fun, always, effortlessly. Regardless, there is a lot I want to do and see and experience — and really, there’s not anything in that process of making my life richer and more rewarding that I can’t do alone. I wish it was easier to not get caught up in what I want and don’t have at the moment, vs. all that I do have. Though I want to share all of that with someone, enjoying my life to the fullest can’t be contingent on being with someone. I can’t let being solo, no matter how long that might be, get in the way of enjoying my life to the fullest, and building that rich life.
Soundtrack to this post: Ryan Adams – “To Be Without You“