Monday, January 28, 2019

The Virtue of "Alone"

In the last several months, I've made some substantial changes in my life, my new reality, whatever you'd like to call it.

(I know what I'd like to call it: OVER. As in, take me back to where I had my PM at hand!) 

That aside, of course, we go on with life. 
With one day after another. 
One step after another. 
Some of these days are so sad it's a wonder I can stand up. 
Some of these days are so happy I "forget" about my new reality for a while...and discover that I still have some "fun" left in me. 

I've bought a house, and I may buy an even better one soon, if I can. 
I've bought a piano, with which I am absolutely thrilled
I've written a new book, with which I am beyond thrilled. (The story of how that came about, for those of you who care, will probably be posted here shortly.) 

But today, I want to share something that's been gnawing at me. 
Something that is all too common in this world of grieving--but something I feel needs a bit of adjustment. 

In the grief group I go to, there are several extroverts who seemingly cannot imagine why anyone would voluntarily want to be alone

And this is ironic, considering that in this same group, everyone's "grieving style" is accepted, you're told to do things when you want to do them and refuse to do things you don't want to do, to take care of yourself, etc. 
All except for the dreaded state of "being alone." 

We went through an account of our holidays, and there were a lot of people at family houses, at their relatives, even at friends'...but our leader praised them in terms of "at least you weren't alone." 

Even some of the people in the group repeated that phrase, to the point where I almost stood up and made trouble. (I may still do so.) 

Because, if I may be so humble as to ask, what in hell is so terrible about "being alone"? 

One woman mentioned that she "stayed busy" because if she wasn't busy, she'd "think too much"...and our leader countered by saying that it's OK to think now and then--in fact, it's necessary to "think too much" at times. If you are too busy for busy's sake, then you don't give yourself time to grieve, to process, to remember, to sort things out. 

But it also seems to me that that "thinking" is best guessed it...alone. And that, unfortunately, seems to be a cognitive disconnect even in our leadership. 

I'm here to tell you, however, that alone is not a crime. 
In fact, it's an interesting revelation to me that, while I think I'd like to fall in love again (because, let's face it, being in love is fun)... 
And while I might be willing to step out on that "dating" limb again... 
One thing that holds me back is the "what-if" of forming another married relationship. 
Which would mean not being alone anymore. 

Now, I can hear the leaders applauding in the background, and many of my fellow grief group members cheering. But I'm not setting forth "not being alone" as being a place I'm desperately trying to get to. In fact, it's a place I'm desperate to avoid right now. 

Because, quite frankly, right now, alone is a nice place to be. 

I actually like living alone. So sue me. (Not really. I'm not that rich, at least not yet!) 

But I know there's a lot of undue fretting about "living alone" that, in my case at least, is needless. 
I am not only alone but retired, which means that I set my schedule. 
I decide when I want to go to church every week. And how many times I want to go. 
I decide when, and what, I want to eat and drink. 
I decide if, and when, I want to have TV on...when I want to play my piano...when I want to spend time at the computer...when it's time to just sit and watch a Hallmark movie and pet my cat... 

And I don't have to check with anyone about any of this. 

I do my laundry when I want. 
I clean when I want. 
I go to bed and get up when I want. 
I start a fire in my fireplace every blinkin' night, and no one bats an eyelash.

In short, I like living alone. 
Because for the first time in a very long time, I don't have to accommodate anyone else. 
I don't have to shuttle a kid to school or sports. 
I don't have to plan meals around a strange work schedule. 
I don't have to remind someone of something they need to do. Everything that needs doing around here, I do it. 

Is that sometimes a pain? Yeah, it can be. :-) 

When I really want something from the store, for example, I can no longer just say, "Hey, PM, on your way home from work could you stop at the Jewel and get ______?" 

When it snows half a foot, as it has three times already this winter, I'm the one who has to get out there and shovel it away, or I don't go anywhere. 

I don't have companionship in the car on long drives, or even short ones. 

And there are times, yes, when it feels lonely. When it feels like there's no one out there who will give a damn if I keel over tomorrow. 

But the root of the loneliness, and the gnawing "hole" inside, isn't filled with anyone but PM. No matter who else they are, no matter how much they's him I'm lonely for. 
Not for "people" in general. 

For me?  Loneliness, per se, is not nearly the problem that so many people seem to think it is, or want to make it into. 

I'm not at all of the mindset that says, "If you're feeling sad, get out and be with people. It'll help."

Sometimes, it does. 
Sometimes, however, it most definitely does not. 

Even sometimes doing my normal day-to-day routine brings moments--or hours--of sadness. 
I've cried behind the wheel of my car so much I suspect it thinks that's what people are supposed to do when they drive. 

But would being with people cure that? 
It most definitely does, and would, not

In fact, sometimes it's "being out in the world" too much that causes that sadness. 

So for those of us out here who enjoy being, and living, alone...
Give us a little slack, extroverts. We're not using aloneness as a way to pull in on ourselves and become hermits. Some of us are just plain happy that way. 

We've figured out how to be alone and be at peace with it. 
And sometimes that peace is the last thing we want to surrender...for anyone. 

Am I lonely? Yes. For PM. That's a loneliness that won't be cured until I see him again. 

In the meantime, however, for the great majority of the time...I am content alone. 
I even relish the freedom it gives me. 

I am not "wallowing." 
I am not pining away for an endless social calendar. 
And I am here to tell you... 
There are plenty of things worse than "being alone." 

Far worse. 

Don't feel pity for me because I'm "alone." I'm fine living this way, and I will be until or unless something major happens to change things. 

But, trust me... It'll have to be earthshakingly major for me to give up this present freedom.