Being Alone

I am a lover without a lover. I am lovely and lonely and I belong deeply to myself.” – Warsan Shire

It’s lonely. It’s just you.

I don’t have massive personal responsibilities such as children, a mortgage, a car on finance etc. I have responsibilities at work and I often use work as an escape. I know who I am at work. I know what I’m doing and I’m good at it (good is such a bland adjective, but using any other word makes me feel as though I’m blowing smoke up my own arse).

Being alone eats away at you. You start to question everything about yourself, and the silence staring back at you mixed with the incessant chatter of your mind is startling in its honesty. Aloneness is a revelation, but not one that’s always welcome. The unsettling element about being alone is that we often tend to focus on our flaws. We think that because we’re alone there must be something wrong with us, that it’s somehow our fault. The reality is that there is nothing wrong with us; our perspective just needs a bit of tweaking.

Aloneness is also humbling. For me it’s a constant – and perhaps not so cheerful – reminder that I’m human and that I’m fallible and will fall into darkness. But it also means I have the power to move back into the light. The paradox is that my darkness helps illuminate my light. Go figure…

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Feeling alone has the ability to cause you to withdraw from the world. After a while it becomes an unconscious choice. I don’t know when aloneness became a choice. It crept up on me, tapping me on the shoulder every now and then to remind me of its presence. I guess I switch between being alone and solitude. One being a choice and the other thrust upon me.

Aloneness usually makes its presence known to me by a lack of human affection and contact. Intimacy is lacking in my life. Previously I chose for it to be that way, and now I don’t know where to go or what to do to build and maintain the type of relationship I crave. I’ve dug myself a hole to avoid the feeling I desire the most. Why do we do this to ourselves? It seems absurd that life makes us over protective of ourselves especially when all we seem to want is love.

I’ve come to the begrudging conclusion that being alone opens me up to vulnerabilities which are showing no sign of alleviating. Is feeling this way an opportunity for me to learn to connect with myself? I’m reaching a point where I wonder just how much can I connect to myself before I actually get something back from it? How do I know I’ve connected? Where are my results?

Aloneness has definitely reared the head of resentment and envy. These are not two emotions I particularly want present in my life, but there they are meandering around me like a fly I can’t swat. It’s as though the fly is waving a big sign saying “Get over me. It doesn’t matter” and my ego is fighting back and having itself an auspicious pity party.

In my original first draft of this post, I found myself blaming others for my aloneness: they don’t include me, they don’t understand me, they don’t think about me (God my ego is so self-absorbed!) I’ve realised now that I can’t expect to be included if I’m constantly making myself unavailable (and using work as a convenient excuse), and of course no-one understands me. I barely understand myself! It’s easy to blame other people for me being alone because then I don’t have to face the fact, and take action on aloneness being my doing. I created it and if I want a different result then I’m the one who has to get my arse into gear and DO something about it.

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Easier said than done; especially when being alone for so long creates a level of anxiety akin to feeling as though you’ve left the house naked every day to a judgmental and severe audience, only to realise you’ve been looking in a mirror the whole time.

There’s often the assumption that people who are alone like it. That’s not always true. I have moments where I really don’t want to interact with anyone and I love that I have the option of being alone, but then I have my moments where all I want is a hug. And not a hug from a friend or from family. It still amazes me that all I want are the simple things and things some people take for granted.

I think being alone is an act of intimacy because you have to be totally alone with yourself. You unconsciously go to that place of yourself that requires no mask and no pretence. We want to know everything there is to know about other people, but we don’t extend that same interest to ourselves. I guess you have to be completely ready to surrender yourself to yourself, and be prepared to experience a level of antipathy toward what you may discover. You also have to be ready to deal with what comes up.

“To be alone for any length of time is to shed an outer skin. The body is inhabited in a different way when we are alone than when we are with others. Alone, we live in our bodies as a question rather than a statement.” – David Whyte

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