I RETURNED HOME ONE NIGHT
The lights were off and the rooms were steeped in silence as I entered. I placed my jacket on a hanger, dropped my purse on the floor and my eyes welled with tears, “I’m alone. Still alone.”
Coupledom is never so alluring as when I’m single.
SAVED BY A MAN
It’s a common narrative, this concept that pairing off till death will save us from the deep, dark ache that is loneliness. In fact, this collective idea alone can be, and often is, a central motivator for many when looking for lifelong love.
After all, a lot of us are terrified of the forlorn emotion.
I love to paint. And once a surface is thoroughly covered in old newspaper and the tubes of colour are on display along with a mason jar full of water, I can lose myself for hours in the hues and textures.
Sometimes, with or without paint, being alone is divine.
And this is a curious thing, isn’t it? I’m single in both moments - arriving at home alone and painting in that same home, alone. One moment stressful while the other, peaceful.
It’s self-evident, although rarely differentiated in the moment we singletons feel a pang of sinking isolation: alone isn’t synonymous with lonely, being single isn’t equivalent with being lonesome.
If it was so, marrieds wouldn’t be capable of the feeling and, unlike Disney royalty, they are.
So, if they’re not interchangeable, what is it that makes the difference between relishing and struggling in solitude?
ALONE WITH MY THOUGHTS
I started to study myself at some point years ago.
If you’ve ever heard of the concept of being both the scientist and experiment, that’s what started to happen. I began relating to myself, my emotions and thoughts, with a greater hunger to understand. Rather than resisting and attempting to numb my feelings, I listened.
I started to consciously feel the uncomfortable emotions arising in me and then at some point, would get curious about what was going on.
What images were running in my mind? Who or what was I comparing myself to? What is it that made being alone on a Friday night more painful than being alone on a Tuesday night?
And I began to discern that what made the difference around how I felt in my own company wasn’t caused by my relationship status. It became clear, loneliness was solely determined by what I was thinking and believing.
Loneliness can exist within and without a relationship. And this is, strangely, good news. It means that the situation of being lonely isn’t hopeless while we’re flying solo; we don’t have to wait for "Mr. Right".
Without the myth that loneliness is caused by lack of a partner, we can refocus our attention from external circumstance to our internal world. We can meet the lonely one within with some understanding.
Could be she’s ready for a friend.
“The most important relationship is the mind's relationship with itself. In other words, the ultimate - and, really, the only - relationship you have is the relationship with your own thoughts”