Time alone has always been in a love-hate relationship with me. I way “with me” because I feel like it is an unhealthy relationship sometimes. I feel it is a healthy relationship other times. Knowing the difference has been key in accepting alone time.
I enjoy being alone. I enjoy watching TV or reading. I like the downtime when I do not feel like I have to do something. Then again, I always feel like I should be doing something other than sitting. I try to give myself a break and tell myself that I am busy, and if I take some time to settle, that is ok. This kind of alone time I am ok with. I have to make sure it doesn’t take on a life of its own.
The year 2020 has forced many of us to have more alone time than we wanted or needed. My reality was that my life didn’t really change that much. The biggest change was that I was working from home. I would work, come home, deal with whatever I needed to, sit to watch TV, and go to bed. I always kept in touch with friends through texting, and my Mom and I would go to the grocery store. That was the extent of my social life. Directly after my break up, my life halted. I lost a lot of the social things I did before. Maybe I chose that route, I probably did, but that is where I was. The pandemic showed me that my life was pretty sad, even before the world started feeling the same way. I had a lot of alone time. Friends complained that they couldn’t do this or that, and I realized that I couldn’t miss any of those things. That is when I knew I had a problem.
Having disclosed all that, I have to say it wasn’t as sad as it sounds. Halfway through, my daughter and her partner moved in. While there were adjustments (still are), it livened up the house a bit. I also adopted a German Shepherd puppy in November of 2019, born with only three feet. I had been training him and working on getting him certified to be a service dog. That took time, and it was fun. I worked in the yard, spent time with my Mom, and my house was cleaner than it had ever been. Oddly enough, cleaning has been something I embrace as an adult—that and rearranging furniture. I was keeping busy. I was doing it alone, but I was content. Perhaps, that was the problem. Is it a thin line between content and happiness, or is the line thick? I am still trying to figure that out.
Before the pandemic, I did have offers to join friends and do things. I went to some, but most of them I politely declined. Particularly if it meant driving anywhere. When the lockdown was lifted ever so lightly, driving was weird. It still felt deserted and scary. That made staying home and being alone more appealing than being out and milling around, regardless of why. The alone time equaled comfort.
There are times alone that I feel sad. I could have a busy day or a day of just sitting and doing nothing and suddenly feel sad that I was alone. It could depend on many things, and I could know the reasons or be completely unaware of them. I would find myself wishing someone was with me, cuddled on the couch. I remember how I enjoyed having people over for dinner or just chatting. I wished the guy I was dating (or whatever we are doing) was with me, working in the yard or just hanging out and talking. Did I make a move to invite anyone over? No, I didn’t. Sometimes because I knew it wasn’t possible. Sometimes, because as lonely as I was, I also didn’t want anyone with me. That was the part that scared me the most.
Recently, some things have changed. The lift on lockdown has continued in my area, and the freedom to move about is easier. I have had some get-togethers with friends, and that has felt good. To be with people and laugh and not be looking at everyone in 2D has been nice. I have started to feel a little more like myself. The person I am dating has been over more frequently and has stayed the night a few times. I have also been to his house a couple of times. The cuddling is nice and makes me feel like I am in a real relationship again after a long time of not feeling that way.
The sadness still creeps in, and I am working on handling that, but for now, I am looking at the improvements that have happened. Perspective is everything, and I choose to keep my perspective positive. The conflict comes when I know I don’t want to live with anyone. I like living alone. This includes my daughter and her partner, who I love dearly, but living alone is preferable. I need to control my surroundings and let the sadness happen. I have been through a lot (no more or no less than others), but the recovery is slow, and I need to give myself the time it takes.