(Originally posted on July 20, 2017 on rbrw.org)
It’s been a while since I’ve written a post in the 20 First Dates Series. I’ve had a lot to digest since my last post about closure – not only when it comes to relationships or lack of relationships, but also just in life, and I will admit it has affected my ability to be free with what I want to share and write. However, I recently had a friend go through a bad breakup, after dating someone for the past year, and preceding the breakup, a very difficult, drawn out divorce. We spoke at length about lessons we all must learn before we are ready to fully find closure, to find peace within, and/or to find “the one”, if that person even exists. One of the first lessons, one that she is finally facing, is
Learning to Be Alone.
When you’re used to being in a relationship, the hardest thing to adjust to – in separation or divorce – can be the silence. If you have children and have been the primary caretaker, it’s the moments alone, when your children are with your former partner. Those moments are scary, but they are also refreshing and freeing. Those are the moments in which you find yourself again and get to do things because you want to, not because you have to take care of someone else. And that is why the moments are scary. If you’ve been known as a wife and a mother for any length of time, if you’ve been known because your lifestyle affords you the ability to do nice things for yourself and for other people, and all of a sudden you can’t, it is very difficult to adjust to a new normal. It can be difficult to hold yourself accountable for your own thoughts and actions as an actual human being outside of all of these external factors.
I would hypothesize that is why we sometimes stay in relationships past the expiration date. It is easier to stay in your current identity than to have to re-discover who you really are.
Last summer was the first time I was away from my mini for any length of time. It was extremely difficult. I can still feel the pain in my gut and my heart as I left her at sleep away camp, knowing that her father would pick her up and I wouldn’t see her for several weeks. At first, I reverted back, in some ways, to enjoying some of the things I enjoyed when I first met my ex. After all, when we met, I was a 23 year old club promoter in Hollywood and worked for the seminal alt rock magazine Ray Gun.
The friends I have had since I first moved to LA even commented that I was “me” again. And I was the 23 year old me. Yet I soon realized that I was so.much.more than that too!
Just as the process of going on “20 First Dates” will lead to self discovery about what you actually need and want in a partner, the process of learning to be alone leads to discovering what makes you tick. What makes you happy. What makes you the YOU that speaks to your inner “I AM” voice. It is about living in your feelings, in the moment, and liking what you find, or changing what you don’t. It is about finding your inner peace, your inner happiness, in finding comfort from within.
My girlfriend asked, how do you get there? How do you become okay with being alone?
There is no one answer. Everyone has their own journey. It is most important to practice being alone, being still, being mindful of your aloneness. Perhaps it means staying in and drinking wine by yourself, listening to music, dancing around the kitchen, watching some cheesy show on the telly. Reading a self-help guide. Journaling. Giving yourself a moment to cry, to mourn, to evaluate feelings, or just to let go of control and allow yourself to feel and be. Allowing yourself to sleep in, to stay in your pjs all day, and not get stressed out about being completely lazy sometimes.
All I know is, as with every part of this journey, from the realization of closure, to the realization of what I not only need but want in a life partner, to the realization that if I meet that person I am ready to revel in it, you will know when you have learned to be alone, truly alone, and not lonely. To love yourself enough to love your own company and realize you ARE enough and you are exactly who you are supposed to be.