Living alone may not be as difficult for me as it is for some others but honestly of late it has been a challenge. The reason I have been able to adjust to living alone after my marriage ended and over other periods of my life goes back to my childhood. When I was six years old my parents divorced and my older brother and sister went to live with my father. It was just me and my mother until she remarried my step-father. There was an existential loneliness and neediness present in my life throughout my childhood, and while my mother was physically present, I was probably needier as a six-year-old child. This was because I felt as if I had lost my entire family, requiring more emotionally than my mother was able to give.
I married young and loved being with my husband as part of a real couple, but the relationship didn’t work for many reasons. Since then, I have had many love affairs, some I thought might end in a re-marriage or living together full time. They all lasted about three or four years: during these relationships, I compromised as best I could and tried to adjust my ways to better fit theirs. It was tiring and not making me happy. The pain when it ended was so difficult because of my attachment issues.
In between the breakup of my marriage and each love affair I had a hard time being alone, and this made living alone more uncomfortable. I most likely rushed into some affairs looking for the love and acceptance of my father, since I felt he had abandoned me and perhaps wanted to prove myself worthy of love. For me today, I recognize that there is nothing lonelier than being in an unhappy relationship. It is always better to be alone than to be with the wrong person. Don’t get me wrong: it is wonderful and life affirming to be in a healthy relationship but it is also possible being happy alone—and happy living alone.
For me, mindfulness meditation is extremely helpful in order to learn how to be in the “now” or the present without judgement. With mindfulness meditation I realized that happiness is not dependent on external factors but actually a skill set. Also, feeling gratitude for whatever life brings you is essential in the quest for being happy, whether alone or in a relationship. Even in the worst of circumstances, such as grief, one can experience gratitude. Just like rainbows come out after the rain, oftentimes there is a rainbow of an ending such as wonderful and empathic new people who may enter your life or opportunities that can come out of despair.
The other truth is while I currently live alone without another human I do live with my amazing poodle Dea. How many men are so eager to see you every time you come in the front door? How many men smother you with kisses and affection all day long? How many men will sit at the foot of the bed while you are sick or unhappy and ask for nothing in return?
I have good friends, female and male, and do fun things with them. However, I now actually prefer to travel alone, as I wrote about in one of my recent blogs. When you travel alone you can make your own schedule, see things you want to see and do things you want to do. Most importantly, you always meet other interesting people during your travels that, if you were with someone else you might not have met.
Overall, I have learned that being happy when you are by yourself takes work. There is no quick fix for finding happiness. Having gone through many struggles and disappointments as have so many others, I have found that being happy alone is a decision. Attitude is everything. Fortunately, with therapy and the passing of time I have changed into a woman who is now actually content with living alone. Part of the reason is that instead of trying to like what is I have consciously made acceptance of what is, one of my main goals in life.
I hope my sharing this has been helpful to you, if you too have ever struggled with loneliness, or are having a hard time living live alone. It gets better—I promise!