It took me (and is still taking by all realistic accounts) quite a long time to even begin to contemplate and comprehend being alone as a positive thing. Solitude is underrated, as we as human beings tend to flock towards being social. Terms like “close-knit neighborhood” and “cliques” and “belonging” to a book club/gym/group etc all lend to this societal ideal of clumping together according to different genres, interests and ideals. They are all great concepts and a lot of positive and rewarding friendships and interactions result from being a part of life and society.
In today’s hyper-connected world, being alone and solitude are often underrated and sometimes even looked upon with sadness or pity. There are even groups for meditation and yoga, further injecting this need to be together even while trying to achieve a state of quiet reflection. It took me several horrifying relationships to realize that I was seeking only what society has long suggested for us, rather than learning to be myself, love myself and enjoy my own company.
When I first saw this meme above, it kind of reminded me of how (nerd alert) Luke could only discover his true Jedi self on Dagobah and learning to listen and feel the force within him. Looking back, there are quite a few comparisons that can be made using the fantasy worlds I adore so much. Even if you don’t believe in anything other than life itself, listening to the world can have a profound affect on us. Whether you live in a bustling city or the most rural of areas, sitting outside in a quiet place and listening to the many sounds of life around you can have a wonderful calming effect. You don’t always have to be connected, sharing, clicking, liking, posting or otherwise frantically trying to connect in this life. It is when we realize this that we can cement our solitude as a friend rather than a foe.
The lessons I’ve learned, the hard way, over the past several years used to haunt me and stress me out. Now they are stumbling blocks that have firmly rooted themselves underneath me as lessons learned. They no longer trip and confuse me and keep me up at night. They are now steps, leading upwards, that propel me towards a better life, a better future. I believe that surrounding yourself with either only people who support and lift you up or no one at all are the two best choices. Having a mix of the two is the best. Knowing that I have caring friends and family I truly enjoy interacting with is cathartic and wonderful. The friend who listens to your concerns, another who is dealing with some of the same challenges as you and spending hours bouncing ideas and thoughts off each other, enriching challenges and taking them on rather than wallowing in them, the friend you can turn to about anything, anything, with a path so long and so far behind that you can barely remember the beginning…these are the people I want in my company.
After the death of my husband and parents, I was very unlike the things I’ve written above. I was needy, damaged, lost and desperate for something, anything to fill the wounds and gaps that dominated my life. I reached out without using any skills and reeled in other damaged and lost people who were hopelessly broken like me. I didn’t have the skills or strength to see a lot of it and well, I learned hard lessons and wasted valuable time in my life. Alas, those awful times are almost forgotten blurs of a time when I was healing and should have been spending time…alone, working on ME. You can’t wallow in it or even consider it. You need to recognize them for what they were; awful lessons that don’t necessarily shape or define us, but sting us and make us realize we deserve more.
Thankfully, I have the opportunity to spend a portion of time every week taking care of my mental health. I’m already taking care of my physical health, but SO many people neglect their own development. Thankfully, the deep, long omnipresent stigma surrounding mental health is slowly being eradicated and people are starting to realize that tending to your cognitive well-being is just as important as your annual physical.
I used to think that I needed someone in my life and perhaps I will, in the future, when I’M ready. Recognizing the fullness of my life as it is today has been an important part of my healing after such catastrophic loss and enduring years of abuse. I alone am in charge of who I allow in my life AND the quality of those people. That was the first thing I learned and will continue to remember that every day. A friend recently found a powerful connection and a deep, rewarding love and I couldn’t be happier for them. One thing they mentioned emphatically was how grateful they were that they took the time to ENJOY being alone and being a parent, working on reflection and taking care of themselves BEFORE jumping into anything. This person’s connection came naturally and wasn’t even really sought after. It must be true what they say that things/people/opportunities truly come into your life when you are not looking or when you least expect it.
Until then, I’ll just sit quietly and listen.