On Being Alone

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ilovemeWhat a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be ~ Ellen Burstyn

Many times we stay in unhealthy relationships because we are afraid of being “alone”. In reality we are afraid of being with ourselves. And we are afraid of being with ourselves because we are afraid of what we will find, we are afraid of not liking our own company, we are afraid of facing whatever demons and despair we have been running from.

We say we can’t stand the silence, we can’t stand the loneliness. But it doesn’t have to be unbearable and it certainly doesn’t need to feel worse to us than being in a bad relationship.

Being alone does not mean being lonely if you structure it and aren’t afraid of the work involved. Learning to be alone and like it is a freedom unlike any other. It means you CAN be okay by yourself and,therefore, will not tether yourself to someone who doesn’t treat you right/well. It means that whenever you are in a relationship, there is a YOU out there that you can go to and be okay with if things don’t work out.

Knowing that “being alone” does NOT necessarily mean being lonely and does not necessarily mean anything bad gives us self-respect and that self-respect becomes a demand on ourselves and others to treat us accordingly.

Learning to be alone opens an entire world that does not exist without it. Learning to be alone makes life just about the best it can be when we finally do find ourselves in a relationship. And learning to be alone and being okay with it is an ABSOLUTE precursor to finding the right relationship and not settling for less. People who are afraid of being alone SETTLE FOR LESS all the time. This person, no matter how terrible, is better than the terrible oneness of being alone. The only way that decision, that BAD decision, changes is to learn to be alone.

In order to FIND the right person, you need to BE the right person. And being the right person STARTS with being alone, doing the work, finding out what you enjoy, cultivating your hobbies, interests and self-pampering, and new friends. Being alone means not being afraid of times when you DO feel lonely.

Learn how to sit with those times of loneliness and don’t try to avoid them…be okay with being bored, restless and uncomfortable WITHOUT having to assuage it immediately. Learn to just go with the flow. Learn to be okay with the silence. Make peace with the peace.

Turn off the TV, the cellphone, the iPod, the computer etc etc etc and learn to just BE and just BE okay without constantly having to fill the void with noise and people. Learn to sit still and see what comes up.

If it’s negative, look at it and figure out what work you have to do. Journal about it. Do your affirmations and visualizations. Learn what is your unfinished business and unresolved grief. Finish it and resolve it.

If it’s positive, enjoy it and appreciate it. Many people are so surprised, once they learn to sit still, how ENJOYABLE it can be. Learn to visualize and plan and dream in those quiet times. Learn to appreciate the silence as what is RIGHT in your life, not what is WRONG with it.

Learn to be alone…meaning….totally alone…and SURVIVE and THRIVE in that space. It will make a world of difference in your life. A world you’ve never seen before and, once you see it, will never let go of again.

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17 Responses to On Being Alone

  1. scubasteve says:

    Ironic, last night it is exactly what I did. It was scary. But I see the point and I need to be comfortable with myself. Makes so much sense. Thank you!

  2. clarys says:

    This is all true, but what happens when the aloneness goes on and on… and on and on for years? Most of the advice for learning to love your aloneness assumes that this is a necessary and enjoyable break, but isn’t meant to be a permanent lifestyle. I’ve been alone for almost 10 years since my divorce, and 3 years since my unhappy experience with the ex. I see no end in sight, which frightens me. I was fine, enjoying my self for years 1 – 5, and I have great friends and family, but still the desire for someone to share my life with gets stronger as time goes on. What do I tell myself now to fight the fear that I am going to be alone for the rest of my life?

    • Susan J. Elliott Susan J. Elliott says:

      Are you trying to find someone or just waiting until someone comes along? Are you putting yourself out there to meet new people (not necessarily a relationship, but the more people you know and meet and the more things you do, the higher your chances.)

      I met Michael when I had given up on relationships (as had he.) I was content being alone and didn’t allow myself to think, “What if I’m alone for the rest of my life?” For me, that status was okay “for now” and if it changed, fine but if it didn’t, I’d just have a good time in the meantime.

      I met him when meeting someone was the last thing on my mind, but I had made an effort to go out and do things and meet people on my own. I went to a concert by myself and a friend of mine was playing with the headliner. He saw me and introduced me and I was having an awesome time (all by myself) but a friend from graduate school had invited me to his house warming party and I had to tear myself away from the concert and stop on by.

      I was only planning to say hi and bye. But I had made a commitment to myself to go places and meet people. Not for a relationship but to widen my circles (as that is how your increase your chances of meeting people.) I DID NOT want to go to this housewarming party AT ALL, but I had made a commitment to myself and I was determined to do what I said I was going to do. Having 2 social engagements in one night was unusual (and my kids were still young so I didn’t get out every weekend,) and I simply didn’t want to go to the house warming after finding my friend was friends with the person I had gone to see. I wanted to hang out and maybe make friends with the musician. But I had promised my other friend and a promise is a promise. No matter how difficult, I tore myself away from a very fun situation full of possibilities to go to a place I didn’t really want to go to.

      I walked in and no one was around, really (it was late when I arrived.) The front room was not furnished yet and they had set up the food tables there but everyone seemed to be in the back of the house and in the yard (it was June and one of the first warm nights of the year…it was a GORGEOUS night out so people had eaten and left the “food room” to go chit chat in the kitchen and back yard. There were still a lot of people there but not in the front room. Except for one person standing by the snack bowl eating to his heart’s content.

      I said, “This is it? This is all the food?” I joked that my friend was gay and I expected so much more from a gay couple moving into their first house. The guy standing there laughed. We started bantering back and forth and that was, truly, all she wrote. Within an hour he had asked me for my phone number and he told me later that he had fallen in love with me during that first hour. He said he was totally and completely taken with me and that by the time he asked me for my phone number he was fumbling around for words whereas he had been pretty smooth with words when we first started talking.

      And he was the love of my life. We were together for 15 wonderful years. Recently I found a note he had written me before we moved in together. He said he wanted to make me the happiest person in the world. And he did.

      The day the doctor told me had 3 months to live was the first time I cried over him. For 15 years he never made me cry, never caused me to be sad or upset over anything. He treated me like a princess and never once said anything untoward or hurtful to me. He once told me he wanted to treat me the way he wanted to be treated and then quadruple that in good intentions and care. He knew love was an action and lived it every second of every day.

      I could go on and on (most of our story is on my other blog) but it all happened because I decided to suit up and show up every day of my life for my own life.

  3. knd393 says:

    clarys,

    Your post struck a chord with me as I was thinking about this the last few days. I am 52, and divorced from a severe alcoholic. I also got involved with a MM right away. I dumped him in January after finally get fed up with all his indecisiveness and lunatic behavior. He is back with his wife, after 3 yrs of seperation. At first it was sooo hard, but each day becomes better. I dodged a big bullet there.

    Anyway, I realized that it is the first time in over 35 yrs, I haven’t been in a relationship, and that part of my fears, angst, what have you, is because I was afraid of being alone. I used the ex to ease the pain and fear I felt about my divorce. I didn’t deal with my emotions. I am learning to be alone, and ENJOY it. I have friends and family, too, but I am starting to love ME best. If someone comes along, fine, if not, I am going to be fine, too. I feel more empowered than any other time in my life. I flew, on a whim, down to see my dad, who actually treated me decently, for one of the few times in my life, because my attitude is different. I feel better each day about who I am, and the boundaries I have started to put in place.

    In short, while I do get lonely sometimes, I have quit thinking it is the worse thing that could ever happen. I am going to enjoy my life to the fullest, and if it’s alone, that is okay. I had a man ask me out last week, and I actually thought, “eh, don’t even want to bother with it”. Personally, that was very different, and freeing for me.

    I hope this helps just a little.

    Hugs to you

  4. Goldie says:

    I am doing the widening my circle thing now. Just casting my net in all directions (except online dating, which I am taking a break from). As of this fall, both my kids will have moved out of my house and frankly, the prospect terrifies me already. I have lived alone for a total of three months in my whole life. I shared a studio apt with my parents first, then I went to college and had roommates, then I moved for my first job and had roommates, then at 24 I got my own apartment and spent the 3 months there alone. Then my fiance moved in with me and we got married. When I left him 18 years later, I took the kids and the dog. Now the kids are leaving and it will just be myself and the dog (which means I won’t even be able to go out all that much, as I’ll be the only one to take care of the dog). I always used to think of myself as somewhat introverted and content with my own company, but I am starting to realize that I don’t know how to do this living alone thing.

    I did start working on rebuilding my circle of friends, making an extra effort to reconnect with the old ones, and meeting new people to hopefully make new ones. My ex husband and I were a very social family, always having people over, always hosting parties. Then I lost many of our mutual friends in the divorce, lost contact with the rest of them while I was in my two year relationship with my last ex, then when the last ex left me, he took with him everyone I’d met through him in those two years. As in, he made a conscious effort to alienate me from those people. When I asked him to give them my contact info because I wanted to stay in touch, he sent them a good-bye email on my behalf instead (that he conveniently didn’t copy me on), and so on. Last fall I found myself, for the first time in my life, with no friends left. So I started doing something about it. It takes a lot of effort. Really hope to start seeing some results soon.

    This is all pertaining to making new friends and keeping old ones – I do realize that searching for a partner is a completely different thing – and of course, like the rest of us here, I have first hand experience of being in a relationship/marriage with the wrong person, and can confirm that it is one of the most miserable experiences one can have – so, yes, getting together with someone, anyone, just to avoid being alone is indeed a big mistake. But I don’t know how I’d handle having no friends and no social life, in addition to having no one to come home to… so I’ve been trying to surround myself with people and activities for the past six months. Am I doing it right, or do I need to learn to be completely alone for longer periods?

    • Susan J. Elliott Susan J. Elliott says:

      It’s not a matter of being “completely alone” as in alone all the time. I think that people are confusing the dictate to be alone with being happy with being alone all the time. No, you can be lonely and upset at being alone, but that feeling doesn’t propel you to people, places and things that are bad for you. It propels you to take care of you, sit with the feelings and look at your life to see if you are learning to be “alone” versus not tolerating it. If you can’t tolerate it, then something is wrong.

      You should never be isolated. No one can live like that. Being alone is a matter of embracing solitude when you have it, but it is PART of a well-balanced life, not the life itself. Solitude and isolation are two very different things. If you’re isolated and walled off from people, it’s not healthy.

      As I said above, being alone is about finding new friends but also means not being afraid of times when you DO feel lonely. You can feel lonely and still be doing the right thing. Sometimes when we are feeling lonely IMMEDIATELY upon being alone, that is a signal that something is wrong, that we have not figured out how to be alone. Try not to fear “completely alone” as you don’t know how it feels and what it looks like and you don’t know that it’s going to be such an issue you can’t stand it.

      Being alone as described above means being without a romantic love interest and being okay. It means making the best of life as it presents itself to you and if you’re miserable, doing something about it. That something should involve learning to be okay when you are alone and taking care of yourself (through meditation or long walks or bubble baths or smacking golf balls around or whatever you like to do that is healthy and part of your self-care regiment,) as well as going new places and meeting new people and being with friends. It’s a balance of BOTH. And know when you need support and going to places where you can get it. After my divorce I went to support groups 3-4 nights a week. I had a “me” night one night a week and a “me” day one day a week. I found this to be the right balance in a life where I had NEVER been alone. I was okay on my “me” night but my “me” day was challenging. On Sunday I would go for a 10 mile bike ride (I’ve written about this on here.) and would ride out to the back of the airport and watch the planes land and take off. The neighborhood where I biked was one where the government had bought up all the houses due to the airport expansion. The houses were still there and it was a suburban area and the houses were pretty nice…mostly raised ranches built in the 70s and 80s. They were all boarded up and the yards were all overgrown. Pedaling through there was like being in a ghost town. But it reflected how I felt…very empty inside. The nice house is there but no one is home…nor would they be.

      I’d ride through these neighborhoods and to the fence of the runway. I’d sit on the railing and watch the planes and think that all the people on the plane were going somewhere and doing something and here I was with my sad, sad life. (my ex was living with the woman he cheated on me with and had moved in right after our separation…and here I was … just lonely and alone… and pitiful.) And then I’d ride back through the ghost neighborhoods…and feel as forlorn as the houses. I remember stopping by one wooded area and there was a little stream there. I had bought some snacks at the store and pulled them out to eat. I was sitting by this little stream wondering if I would ever have anyone in my life again. I was just feeling awful and thinking that I was the most alone person in the universe. I will never forget that day staring into that stream and thinking, “Is this all there is?” Obviously not. I started to have a life and go places with people I met in my support groups and in just a few short months later I was dating two guys (something I had never done!) and having a blast (my therapist was not a fan of the two guys thing, but I was having an awesome time…and feeling quite popular. :) I didn’t rebel against her advice much but I did then.) They were both cute and funny and very complimentary…what’s not to like? Yes, I went down in flames as she said I would but I would totally do it all again. It was fun while it lasted (it ended when I inadvertently invited both to the same event…another story there.)

      But I continued to ride my bike on Sunday and those Sundays absolutely helped me to embrace my status no matter what it was. I survived. I actually look back on those Sundays very fondly. I was in good shape, I was riding a bike and those neighborhoods were actually fascinating. And I learned to be alone and not like it but tolerate it. Tolerating it is key. I didn’t run off to be with inappropriate people or go inappropriate places. I learned to do it over and over again each week. And that made me strong in a way that is hard to explain. I hated it and it sucked in so many ways but doing it allowed me to realize it was not the end of the world. I did it. And I did it while getting into shape. Not a bad side effect. That is the difference in being alone and doing it “wrong” and doing it “right” (though I would never qualify it as right or wrong, it’s more healthy or unhealthy…if the dreaded alone time makes you avoid it and do things you shouldn’t be doing…that is unhealthy…)

      I have told this story numerous times on the blog and have talked about it in a video as well:

      It’s not a matter of doing it right, just doing it. I had planned a very elaborate retirement that never happened and a career that was upended by fracturing my back. When my two kids moved out (my son had moved home to help me when my husband died and met a woman and moved in with her when my daughter left for college,) I had plans galore (because I knew I needed them.) The week after she left for college, I fractured my back. I was all alone in a great big house staring at the 4 walls for months. To be honest, I was downright depressed beyond all measure. Everything and everyone was gone. Again. WTF?

      It took some time to get up and go. I cried every day. I had no clue what to do with myself. I finally decided to move to a place where I wasn’t isolated. Where I live now is great as I can walk to places, but there is delivery when I can’t.

      I moved in the month before Hurricane Sandy. During that horrible storm my CO2 detector was going off and I couldn’t find it in the dark and I climbed up on the ladder – I have 10 foot ceilings so I was on the top of the ladder as I’m only 5’1 and pulled a smoke detector from the ceiling and went tumbling off. I laid on the floor and knew my hand was broken. And the thing was still going off! I looked over and the CO2 detector was on the bottom of the wall! I pulled a smoke detector off, not the CO2 detector and now I had a broken hand to show for it.

      In the morning I walked to the fire station and asked for help. Instead of driving me to the local hospital, they drove me to the big medical center where Michael had been treated. I freaked out completely. I asked them to take me back but they couldn’t. I tried to go in but I was in the ER, the same ER where he had been taken when he had his seizure. He spent weeks in a coma and I spent weeks in the cafeteria. I called my youngest son and told him my battery was dying in my phone but could he call a cab and get me out of there. After many phone calls, he finally found one to come and get me. I was standing in front of the hospital in high winds and the security guard kept telling me to go inside (stuff was flying everywhere) but I refused. I was freaking out. I was screaming at them to leave me alone. The cab driver came. He said he had no plans to go out but my son said, “My mom needs to go home.” and he said, “If Mom needs to go home, Mom is going home.” and he made his way to get me. As we drove I could see why he didn’t want to go out. Trees and power lines were down everywhere and the winds were still very high and whipping everything around. No traffic lights were working. I was amazed at the idiot people who were out and about (with their kids no less) taking photos of things and conditions were still very dangerous. But I was about as sad and forlorn as a person could get and my broken hand was still untreated. I had to write the book Getting Back Out There and was under contract to do it.

      When I finally got to a doctor, I begged him not to cast the hand. So he put a splint on it and said I had to wear it most of the day. I thought I could still type with the hand but I couldn’t. I should have just had him cast it, but I was frantic about keeping my commitment to the new book. That’s a whole other story.

      Anyway, there I was with a broken hand and a broken life. Sounds dramatic but it wasn’t. Everything that should have gone right due to my commitment to myself and following all my own advice, was NOT going right. AT ALL. I was slamming into walls. Literally and figuratively. (My best friend just sent me a photo that said “‘When you fall, I’ll be there for you.’ signed – the floor.” (har har har)) The challenges continue…

      But when I got here, to my new apartment, I decided that a new life, one I had no idea what when where or how, HAD to begin. I have written on here and it’s in the introduction to my new book, that after the hurricane and broken hand, I was moving the last of my things from my old house and I was looking forward to my new life but had no idea where to begin or how. I was crying as I was packing my car full of all the last things. I had gone to my house and my oldest son was going to meet me there and he had been tied up at work. As I waited for him, I was packing all the stuff I could into my car. Sadly I packed our motorcycle helmets and going on a cross country motorcycle ride was a big part of our retirement plans. I was in full-tilt sob mode. It was raining like crazy and I was standing in the back of my car, in the rain, crying my heart out and trying to shove the motorcycle helmets into the car. The thing was packed full.

      I got in and started driving. Things were falling on me. I had to keep shifting things and pushing things as I was trying to drive. I was crying, it was raining and stuff kept falling on me. What. a. mess.

      This was not the life I had planned. But I knew how to do alone as I had done it before but not under these circumstances. Not totally alone.

      As I drove a commercial came on for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. I thought back to the year before my divorce when I went to see Southside and he gave me his harmonica from the stage and my ex blew up at me when we got home. Before that I knew him from the Stone Pony and many many many concerts over the years and several states. But it had been a long time since I had seen him. It was a “ding ding ding” moment. You have to know them when they occur. I thought, “If anyone can make me smile for even an hour or so, it’s Southside.”

      So the concert was the next week. It was still raining (it rained like every day that month and cast a real pall on an already grey world I was living in.) The night of the concert it seemed to be getting icy out but the venue was like 15 minutes from my house and even though I was running into a string of bad luck, it would be stupid not to go. So I went – by myself. My best friend had somehow disappeared from my life (she was separating from her sociopathic-like husband and I had no idea.) I just went, hoping that SSJ was the same and that the music still resonated with me. Please please please.

      I went in and everyone seemed to be with someone and having a good time. I circled around the lobby a few times unsure of going in. I went in and my seat, which was a first row seat, was behind the gigantic speaker. Great. My view was completely obstructed (no wonder why a first row seat was available so late.) After a few songs I had enough with the mega deafness-causing amplifier and decided to sneak in between the edge of the stage and the speaker.

      At some point Southside asked how everyone fared during the hurricane and different people were shouting out different things. I decided to speak up as I was right there and I said I broke my hand…and he said “You broke your hand? What were you trying to beat back the winds?” Because of my experience with the winds, it was pretty funny. My own private joke.

      The concert went on and at the end he pulled me up on stage to sing with him. I was so nervous!!! (the link to the thing is below.) The next day I looked for any photos of it because no one who knew me believed it (they all knew that I was an SSJ fan and they knew he had given my his harmonica once and another time some drunk guy in the audience had been trying to give him a beer while he was singing and he kept refusing it and finally he took it and dropped it on the stage and it flew directly at me (being up front again!) He came over with a towel to help me out and kept apologizing…) So no one believed that here I was up on stage. I found a photo and the guy who took it told me about the regular Jukesters and I should go to the Stone Pony anniversary in a few weeks and meet everyone. So I did that. I had not been to the Pony in 20 years and it was awesome to be back. It was, again, raining like crazy (WTF?) — it was a monsoon… Anyway, I went and met everyone and had an awesome time. I started going to Jukes and Poor Fools concerts and I just started to have a fabulous time. During the week in August of the anniversary of Michael’s death I went to 5 Jukes concerts in 6 days. It was so great…on one of the nights I remember laughing to the point of crying and couldn’t believe that I could find that much humor in a week that was so hard for me. The concerts were awesome and people in the group knew, by that time, what was up with me and people came over and hugged me and said they were sorry. It was great to be surrounded by such loving and caring people. And I had just met them!

      also my best friend resurfaced and I started going with her in April and she loved it (she had no idea who the Jukes were and I took her first to a Poor Fools concert and they’re her favorite now, but she loves the Jukes too.) Through the group and all the connections, she started seeing someone who is wonderful and such a far cry from the person who is, in my opinion, a sociopath.

      So the journey continues. I’ve not gotten back to work as a lawyer as I still have on-going back problems, but I have increased the number of clients I’ve seen, finished the second book (now available for pre-order on Amazon) and expanded my practice into aromatherapy and an awesome product line. I’ve also met some incredible people learning aromatherapy and candle and soap making. These people have been GREAT as well.

      This is a long, long story to say take every chance you can…there is no right or wrong. It’s a matter of putting yourself in the position of meeting new people and doing new things. Sometimes you go out and do something and it doesn’t work out AT ALL. All of my failures are not listed here. All the times I went to something like a class, hoping to meet new people and winding up hating everyone there (I had high hopes for one class and wound up hating the instructor, the people in the class and the material was horrible…I gave it a decent shot…it was a 12 week course and I lasted for 7 weeks but finally I had to admit that these people and this class put me in a foul mood for days and I had to can it.) I’ve gone to Meetup groups and met no one but, then again, I went to a Meetup and met 2 people out of 25 who regularly attended and one of them turned into a very close friend. We don’t see each other often, but when we do, it’s amazingly fun. We do lots of fun stuff like Broadway plays…we’re both into the theater. The last time I spent with her we went to a play and dinner and we laughed the whole time (we saw a comedy.) Out of a Meetup came that very close friendship even though I went to many Meetups that resulted in nothing.

      My therapist told me a long time ago (VERY long time ago…) no one is coming into your living room to ask you to do something fun (no? why not ;) ) Even though many things might not turn into something, you up your chances by going and doing and being open to it.

      There is no right or wrong, there is just – it works or it doesn’t. But you never know where one step in this direction or that direction will take you. Just relax, be yourself, take a few chances, be open to possibilities and don’t sweat it if they don’t happen.

      Balance that with spending time alone reading, meditating, going for a walk,
      exercising, etc. You don’t have to do or go every second but you don’t have to isolate yourself either.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22iuWgiWfAA

      • just_hurting says:

        I haven’t been alone in almost 20 years, since January 1996. Since I was 18. I started dating my husband at 18, we dated for a year and a half, we broke up, I dated a few other men in the year we broke up, and then my husband came to me after a year break up and wanted to try again. I had just turned 21, and we started dating again, got married in October 2002 and had a child in June 2008. We separated in August 2012 and divorced in December 2012.

        I dated 2 men, before I met my ex-boyfriend (in October 2012) with whom dumped me a month ago. It was a bad relationship and I stayed in it for a year and a half even though I did try and get out many times. He just kept reeling me back in. He was very controlling, jealous, manipulative, emotionally and verbally abusive-something I had never dealt with before from a man, at least that I can see.

        My ex husband wasn’t verbally or emotionally abusive, but he was neglectful. He didn’t take care of our relationship it was all on me. I don’t know whether I am having a hard time with the break up from the abusive ex-boyfriend because I loved him so much, or if it is because I am just afraid to be alone. I don’t want him because he treated me so badly, but on the other hand…well, I don’t know why I am having a hard time really. My head knows he is no good for me, and I even think my heart does, but I am just afraid to be alone.

        I am doing my Affirmations (which I read multiple times a day) and am planning a date night with myself each week when my daughter is with her Dad. I have gone completely NC with the ex-boyfriend to the point of blocking his number and email addresses from being able to contact me. I am afraid he is going to try and contact me because the first three weeks after the break up, he kept getting in touch with me because he thought it would help me get over this when actually it was only making things worse. I am afraid he is going to contact me because I am afraid if he did, I would go right back.

        I am tired of men. I am tired of being emotionally exhausted. I want some time to myself to figure out who I am and what I want. I am 37 years old and have no idea who I even am. I am afraid I won’t find anyone and will be alone forever, and although that scares me, I wonder if it is not best for me to be alone for a while. I am seeing a therapits to help me resolve issues with the abusive relationship and from my childhood (my ex-boyfriend is just exactly like my mother, and I have issues to resolve there), and have started taking Prozac to help with the feelings that seem to be larger than I can manage.

        I am taking a pottery class, looking for a church I want for me and my daughter, and just spending alone time with me. I don’t even want to be social right now. I just want time to grieve, reflect and find myself.

        • Susan J. Elliott Susan J. Elliott says:

          I’ve been where you are and it’s not a terrible place to be. It’s a place of amazing growth. Glad you are here and hope to hear more about your journey!

      • callie35 says:

        Susan – Thank you so much for sharing all this….I really appreciated reading it. I have joined a few meetup groups and have yet to go to any events but this is one of my goals. I would like to meet someone the old fashioned way. I laughed when it seemed to keep raining on you – but in some ways you were flighting the downpour of your life and into the sun. :)

        • Goldie says:

          Callie, I’m a member of probably a dozen meetup groups. I joined my first one exactly five years ago, when I was still married. I cannot recommend them enough. I now have a few “old friends” in the groups, and have been meeting new people too. My first meetup group was probably the only group of people who were happy to see me and fully open to contact, when I returned to them after falling off the face of the earth for two years when I was in my relationship. I went back to them recently and it’s like we’d never been apart. I urge you to sign up for an event right after you finish reading this comment :)

        • Susan J. Elliott Susan J. Elliott says:

          Thank you. Love that analogy!

      • Goldie says:

        Wow thank you Susan! This is a really inspirational story. You’re right, half the time I get out of the house, to a meetup, concert, event etc., I ask myself “what am I doing here?” but then the other half of the time I run into acquaintances or meet new people, or have my acquaintances introduce me to new people, and have a great time! Thanks, I’ll be keeping the faith. If you could do it with all that was going on (AND during Sandy), then so can I!

        Interesting that you mention moving. After my 18yo moves out, I was planning to move to a more artsy/walking district of our city, to meet new people and to be closer to the events that I’m already going to regularly. The 18yo is trying to talk me out of it, because we have a dog, my mom lives a few blocks away from my current suburban house, and he says that both Grandma and dog will be miserable if I move them far apart from each other… but I just talked to Grandma and she supports me all the way. Hope it all works out.

        • Susan J. Elliott Susan J. Elliott says:

          You’re very welcome. It’s definitely a balancing act. Sometimes the strangest thing happens and sometimes it works out and sometimes it does not. It’s a numbers game. The more you do, the higher your chances are that something will work out AND the less stock you put into it if it doesn’t. If you go to 5 events a month and 3 don’t work out, it’s not bad to get 2 that do. Because sometimes not working out is not a big deal but working out is awesome. I find that the things that have worked out are things I wouldn’t trade for the world and things that have not worked out are forgettable (except for that one class from hell.) :)

        • Susan J. Elliott Susan J. Elliott says:

          It’s about following what YOU want to do and not taking advice from an 18 year old. As Michael used to tell my kids at 18 when they thought they had suddenly grown up, “you don’t know shit about shit.” :)

  5. DeterminedOptimist says:

    But I don’t know how I’d handle having no friends and no social life, in addition to having no one to come home to

    Why are you afraid to find out?

    My situation was similar to yours in that I had never, not once, lived by myself. And all of a sudden I had no social life, a handful of friends (literally less than five), and my family half a country away. It was me and the cat. And I was terrified. I avoided dealing with it for about six months, and then I ran out of running room. Had a pretty bad couple of weeks, at one point. But anyway.

    There is no “doing it right” here; that implies there’s a way to do it wrong, and one thing you definitely want to avoid is the pass/fail mentality–that’s just one more way to beat yourself up in advance. I don’t know about you, but I used to do that quite a lot, mostly out of habit, and I now find it’s not as fun or interesting or useful as I would have expected.

    Try this as a “being by yourself” exercise. The next time you get home from work, get your after-work tasks done and clear your schedule. Turn off the radio, the TV, and your computer, mute your phone (not vibrate, silent), and put it face down. Sit in your favorite chair, or on your favorite place on the couch, but don’t lie down. Close your eyes, set an egg timer (or the timer on your phone), and sit there quietly for 15 minutes doing nothing but breathing and thinking. It may be difficult at first. It took me some practice, certainly.

    But if you do it every day, I promise you it will not take long until you look forward to it. And you’ll start making that timer longer. You won’t dread or fear the quiet time alone. You’ll anticipate it. Savor it. Value it more than any other part of your day.

    As for “being completely alone,” I’m rarely alone any more. I’m by myself a lot, of course–not counting coworker and sales-clerk encounters, I’ve gone weeks without interacting with anyone at all–but that’s not alone.

    Hope that helps.

  6. mchinela says:

    I love being alone now.

    All the weekends I would waste sitting next to my BH.. our having fun times had subsided.. he knew I loved to have fun and I think he purposely sat around to push me away.. but I didnt want to have a life of my own .. he wanted someone to sit around and be boring with him.. as he told me when I found out about him and the Banana woman , “she sits aroudn with me and smokes pot and does nothing and doesnt complain ”

    thanks to him , now I have built and am building a fun life for myself.. with weekends always spontaneous or planned and in the genuine loving company of my friends and family who love me and would never turn their backs on me..

    also After the breakup I realize sometimes I need an alone day.. I will eat dinner alone at a restuarant or do alone things and I LOVE it.. i realize my bh and his bw, and people alike that HAVE TO HAVE SOMEONE (INCLUDING THE OLD ME)
    its just noise or filter to not focus or work on themselves..

    prior to the bh and i breaking it off, my mom who alwaysliked him as a perosn but not how he was to me, told me HE HAS A LOT of work to do on himself.. and sadly he knows it but he will not take any steps to at all help himself .. the funny ting is when we broke up he kept saying it was he wanted to be alone and literaly turned around and moved her in /inpregnanted her.. it made me realize both of them were chasing that high of something new but it wasnt something new it was the past being rikindled and temporarily forgetting why it was over…
    but really ina WEIRD WAY their situation led me and him to not be together and me to be alone and i finally worked on myself.. so while they keep prolonging it ive already done it :))))

    being alone is nice.. my bf has told me he thinks im the type that could walk away or be alone and it shakes him up a tiny bit.. i think this keeps him on good behavior…. i want to be with someone who only wants to be good to me and doesnt treat me as company ,support, arm chair therapist… its been almost 2 years since august 2012 when my heart was stabbed and shattered and stomped on … its still a journey but im reaching sucha good place.. :)

    • Susan J. Elliott Susan J. Elliott says:

      You are right…it is a good place. I know that Michael was a good and loving man…no one could keep that facade up for so long if he wasn’t, but I know that part of the reason why he treated me so well was that he was pretty clear that I would have no nonsense or he would be gone.

      Being okay alone and being strong enough to send out radio waves to others that you’d rather be alone than be mistreated is the absolute best place to be in the world. It takes a while to get there, but the journey is so worth it. Good for you!!!

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