Monday, March 3, 2008

Being Alone

I had an interesting conversation with someone a while back. We were talking about random things and I brought up the fact that I had never been on my own. Truly. This is the basic gist of my life's living arrangements:

1. Lived with some relative or another until 17
2. Lived in college with a roommate
3. Lived with my ex-husband's Aunt and Uncle so I could stay in Ohio
4. Lived in an apartment with my grandmother
5. Lived with my ex-husband
6. Lived in a house with my grandmother
7. Moved in with my husband

Obviously, there is a little more explanation than that, but for conversational purposes, this is enough information for now.

The customer I was speaking with was a man, and he said (to paraphrase) "You are a beautiful woman, there is no reason for you to be by yourself."


I responded by telling him that I didn't have a problem not being by myself and sometimes I actually craved alone time. I like the peace and quiet. I like not having to answer 350 questions a day. I enjoy curling up with a book and reading it the whole way through or taking a bubble bath and staying in until my skin gets all wrinkly.

Sometimes I feel like I am still trying to figure out what I like/want/need because I never had a chance to spend any amount of extended time with only myself for company. And since I am my favorite person, I find it a damn shame.

Now don't get me wrong... I wasn't offended that he said that. I do not play games with my looks. I know that I am attractive to some people, but I am by far not beautiful. I also don't act coy or embarrassed when someone compliments me on my looks. I honestly grew up an ugly duckling, so there are times that I have to stop myself from protesting when I receive compliments because I don't want to sound insincere. I have actually accepted the fact that there are people who will look at me and see my shell and not the substance inside. Once they speak with me for more than a minute, they see the real me. That is the one that makes me the most proud.

Anyway, back to the story. I wasn't offended with the content of the comment, because I know that there are a lot of people out there, both men and women who hate to be alone. Those people look at someone who (outwardly) seems to have everything that they desire and wonder why they are unhappy. What it did was make me think. And wonder. About what ifs and might have beens. Because I was that person for the longest time. I had to be in a relationship to be happy. I didn't feel complete unless I felt desired. If I was single, it wasn't very long until I jumped headfirst into another relationship.

Now I realize that one of the reasons I was that person was that I didn't want to be alone and be forced to confront the demons and pain that resided inside of me. If I kept going and kept myself and my happiness tied to someone else's needs, then there wasn't enough time in the day to worry about what my needs really were. The funny thing was that all of my friends and family saw how I was and told me about it, but I blew them off. They said that I was a super cool person until I got into a relationship and then I changed. Instead of having fun and being who I really was, I changed and devoted myself to making whoever I was with love me. And that is really the heart of the matter. Love. I had to be loved. It is a deep seated need and one that I fulfilled over and over again. It was easy to get a man to fall in love/lust/whatever with me. They look at me and see my vulnerabilities and want to protect me. I guess I look fragile. I'm not. Once, we were involved and they realized that there was steel inside, then the problems started. Since the men who fell for me often fell for the "princess needing a prince" aura, the relationship would often fall apart when they realized that I didn't really need them. Even if I did not realize it myself.

Thus began my string of romances. It wasn't a long string, but it started with my first boyfriend and has never ended. And hearts were broken on both sides. Mine, when the guy realized that I wasn't the person that he thought I was. His when I realized that I made a mistake and confused real love with my relationshipitis disease.

The crazy thing is that I still have that desire to be protected. But I want to be loved for the person that I am. My wit and intelligence, my vulnerabilities and needs, my strengths and my weaknesses. They all make up the person that I am inside. I think.

After looking back and analyzing MY life, I have some advice to the general population. I still don't know who I am or what I really want, but I am learning and I know more now than I did ten years ago. I think that if I would have had that time to live alone, I could have figured more of it out a lot sooner. I honestly think that if you have the chance, take some time to be by yourself. It will make you think about what makes you world turn more smoothly.

Of course, I could be full of shit and this is just what I think anyway, so take it for what its worth.

What do you think? Did you get time to be alone? Do you think there is a difference? Is there a side to this that I am not seeing?

Let me know.



Anonymous said...

I always find my self needing alone time. I think it's healthy and nothing to be ashamed of.

Tug said...

I think everyone needs time on their own to truly 'get to know themselves' and be happy with themselves. If you're not happy with you, how can anyone else be?

The [Cherry] Ride said...

I spend lots of time alone these days, and it is definitely a good thing.

However,I also suffer from "the grass is always greener" syndrome and sometimes wish I wasn't. O well.

Mr. Fabulous said...

I have never lived alone either. I always make sure I get my alone time, though. I think if Mrs. Fab had her way we would be together 24/7.

I couldn't do that.

George said...

I have lived alone on 3 different occasions ... 1st time for about a year, next came in a relationship while we were living together and that lasted another year. I am presently living my 3rd alone time and it has been 4+ years.

I find myself getting lonely sometimes but I am OK with it.

It definitely makes a difference because it makes you do things that you would not otherwise do if you were with somebody.

It is also a time where you learn your limits in both good and bad ways.

Avitable said...

I had a few years alone and I still enjoy the occasional week of alone time when my wife's away on business.

Spiky Zora Jones said...

I lived by myself on three different occasions. I lived with a girl after high school then we broke up and just dated. I was busy with school, work, dating I don't remember a difference. I was very lonely after my girl and I broke up...much time spent sulking, much happiness when she came back.

I do find that sometines I do need alone time...not a lot of it though. I go shopping by myself and when I get back home I feel fantastic. We all need a good balance of alone and un-alone time.

Miss Britt said...

I have never been alone. I lived alone for about 2 weeks once - technically. But I was pregnant and never really 'alone' by that point anyway.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like - what kind of person I'd be - if I had spent some time as an adult alone.

Moi said...

A friend of mine once gave me the best piece of advice that I have ever received: you can never be truly happy with someone else, until you are happy with yourself.

And you can't be happy with yourself until you have spent a good amount of time by yourself.

Well, that's what I think anyway...

Mrs RW said...

I agree: alone time is very important for lots of reasons. For this reason I pushed both my daughters to have the experience of living on their own, depending on themselves, just so that they knew they could. I didn't want them staying with a boyfriend, husband or roommate just because they were afraid they couldn't make it by themselves.

So far, it's working out okay. They both are happy (one married, one engaged) but they don't take crap from anyone. Better to be alone and happy than the miserable half of a couple.

Jeannie said...

I have never lived alone and I don't think it would have made much difference. I have always found a few hours alone time when I needed them to sort myself out - there are always distractions like phones, TV, internet, movies if you are determined to avoid looking at who you are, whether you live alone or with someone else. Self examination is part of maturity and does not require a fortress of solitude. Going for a walk without an mp3 player is opportunity enough.

I have found that the times my husband has been away to be a treat though even though there's always been at least one of the kids around too. It's nice to have only yourself to be concerned about. (my mother has found this to be a bonus since my father died) If I become a widow I doubt I will look for another mate - there just aren't that many men who interest me out there.

Chuck said...

I like being alone. When it's just me and the critters in the house, that is when I feel most at peace.

Don't get me wrong, I love my family. I enjoy being with them, but I love being by myself. Being able to do what I want. Eat what I want. Watch what I want.

I have the luxury of having an office in the basement of my house and I can go there to escape somewhat.

I totally understand what you're saying ADW. I hope you get a chance to find some peace in your soul.


Marianne said...

I was a single mom living on my own for seven years. In that seven years, I spent 30 days in a homeless shelter, 3 years in a low-rent ghetto, 1 year in a full priced apartment complex (where cooincidentally the drugs & crime rate were the same as in the ghetto) and then 3 years as a homeowner.

In that time, I learned a lot about myself and I had as much alone time as I wanted. (If not more.)

And I learned that I can do any fucking thing I ever want to do at any time in my life. And I don't need a man for anything. (Not even "that"...)

It made me very strong and it helped me to tell a few guys to take a hike when they didn't live up to my standards.

Nanna said...

Holy shit, I swear to God you got in my head and, from that vantage point, wrote this post!

That's it - no great advice - just awestruck!