Sometimes it really feels like we’re all alone in the world, doesn’t it? When managing a life with CFS / ME, illness and pain it can feel even more like we’re on our own. Facing the whole prospect of aloneness is something I’ve been dealing with a lot lately. I have a strong belief in the old saying “when the student is ready the master will appear”. Well, at the moment it seems that I am a student of being alone and my lesson is to learn to be okay with that. It is not a lesson I initially relished, but it’s growing on me.
I have come to realise how much I resist being alone, or more to the point, the thought of being alone. I actually quite enjoy my own company and love walking, meditating, listening to music, reading and many other activities on my own. I’ve even been quite comfortable with going to the movies on my own all my adult life. So it doesn’t sound much like I’m resisting does it? But I do.
Many times in my life, especially when dealing with the most severe stages of the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) I have lived with for 20 years, I have felt very alone. Alone in my experience, unable to fully describe to anyone how horrendous the fatigue was I was experiencing. Alone in my struggle to deal mentally with the consequences of illness and pain, such as losing my sense of identity, purpose and belonging in the world. I even managed to manifest an incredibly rare electrosensitivity which means that ever since pregnancy 10 years ago I get severe headaches and ear pain within seconds of being around most things electrical – this computer, phones, tvs, and even cars (yep, they have an electric field and most have super dooper computers onboard too these days!). So for someone who fears loneliness and likes to belong, how’s that for a tester in this electronic age?! Do you think someone’s trying to teach me something? 🙂
Well, finally I’m starting to listen. Having parted from my second husband in February, I have enjoyed getting to know myself as a 40 year old single woman. I feel more at home with myself, more centred and grounded than I’ve ever felt. I really feel like I’ve got myself pretty sorted out and feel more settled than ever before. But I realise that almost immediately after my amicable break-up I have been eagerly awaiting my next partner. Frankly I enjoy having a partner to share life with, and I don’t think I’m alone in that (no pun intended!). It’s a normal human drive. However some experiences with people in my life of late have helped me see how I’m almost obsessively driven to share and connect with other people, particularly a significant other. After one recent short romance I realised just how much I resist being single. I really don’t like it. And when I resist something a lot in life, I always know that’s where I’m meant to go. That’s where the gold is, where I’ll learn the most about myself. But really?! Could the gold really be in learning to love being single?! And more than that, could it be in not equating single with being alone or with loneliness?!
In my resisting moments I wonder what happens to people who are happily married for years. Why do I need to experience the golden lesson of being okay with being single when they seem to go pretty well without ever learning it – or at least not until much later in life. And maybe that’s the answer there. Eventually, ultimately, we are all alone. Even in a partnership, a marriage, the other person can’t get inside your head. I have experienced myself how alone one can feel while in a marriage. And many people who lose their partner late in life have to belatedly face what I am facing now – and it’s not much fun.
So I’m learning to embrace singledom and to not fear being alone. I’m learning to curb my intense desire to share everything with any potential partners. I’m learning not to equate being single and alone with bad adjectives such as sad, unhappy, or lonely. Admittedly at times I feel I’m a slow learner, but I have decided to be open to the lesson. Maybe all those other times I’ve been forced by life circumstances to deal with something that makes me feel isolated and alone were lessons I didn’t take up. Maybe if I’d learnt back then to be okay with aloneness, I would be a lot more okay with being single at the moment. It’s a shame these life lessons weren’t a bit easier, but ironically we human beings seem to learn a lot more from the hard times of life than we learn from the good times.
(I wrote this about six weeks ago and didn’t post it. Since then I have successfully negotiated my first Christmas “alone”, waking up on my own and not seeing my daughter until 4pm. And how did I do? Fantastically!! I embraced it as an opportunity to have a different, but equally fulfilling Christmas, so I spent it with my two sets of ex-inlaws! Doesn’t everybody do that?! Yep, I had breakfast with my first father-in-law and sister-in-law, her husband and my three gorgeous nephews who I don’t see nearly enough because they live 2 hours away. Then I raced home to pick up my salads and cheesecake (yes, summer Christmas here in Australia), and then I headed to my second father-in-law’s house to share lunch with him, my brothers-in-law, step-nephews and niece, sister-in-law and her partner. After a lovely meal and lots of laughter I came home for my afternoon nap, then at 4pm Sophie arrived home from her Dad’s and we then headed up to my parent’s house a bit over an hour north of here. That’s what I call the thoroughly modern family Christmas!! And aren’t I the fortunate one to have had such a great day?! 🙂