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  • Writer's pictureLindsey Garner

Letting go of Lonely

When did we become so uncomfortable with loneliness? When did the idea of being by ourselves become taboo? Over the last two months, I've noticed through my own time alone how truly difficult it is for a lot of people to understand a love of solace and alone time. We put our own expectations of the Holidays or weekends and free time onto others a whole lot. We spend our own energy expecting others' reactions and feelings to look more like ours. I spent the Holidays alone. When I was asked "How was your Holiday?", I received a whole lot of "Oh no! Why didn't you call me?" and "That's so should have come over!" from people in my life. These reactions made me step back and think a ton about our own idea of what others expect versus what is real for us.

These reactions made me realize that being alone has been a major focus of the past year, rather unintentionally at first, but then out of a great need to figure out why my marriage wasn't working. I don't even think I realized that until very recently. I had to re-learn who I was and what I wanted. To be honest, this process isn't done. It's really just starting, and evolving every single day. It stated when my husband and I realized that our entire lives were so intertwined, we could not distinguish our own joy and happiness from the other's. Along the way, we lost an idea of what we wanted as individuals, and with that, the ability to be on our own without major impact to our relationship. My daughter has reached an age where she doesn't spend as much time with me as she used to. It's part of it, right? I want her to figure this part of her own life out, but it's also forced me to realize that a lot of my own identity has been tied up in her needs, and without those, and the needs of my husband, I'm sort of a blank slate.

Our separation, and my daughter's independence has forced me to take a huge look at how I was spending my time and with whom, and whether that really brought me joy or furthered what I wanted to do in the grand picture of my life.

It took a whole lot of experimenting, and even more turning down social plans, but I have learned what I truly crave is the quiet of my home, and time in the car by myself. I adore early bedtimes and books, and I don't find it difficult to spend an evening making dinner for just myself. I have no problem spending a weekend alone in my house and playing in my garden. The idea of hiking by myself makes me happy, and solo travel isn't something that scares me.

I understand that, as humans, our brains need things to look neat and tidy and organized. It's who we are. I get it. I thought for a few seconds after each of these comments that maybe it was me that was flawed. For just a moment, I thought perhaps I should crave more time with others and that my alone time wasn't good. But that was a fleeting thought. I realized that these comments were just a reflection of what others' expectations are. This is just their idea of joy that they are projecting. I'm good. I'm cool with what I like and who I am. I'm not sad about my Holiday, and you shouldn't be either.

If you're someone that dreads silence, I challenge you to turn off the distractions for an hour. If you fill your time with constant distraction or social engagement, take a night off. Just be with yourself and see what comes up. Make dinner for yourself. You might find some surprises. Just try it on.

If you're reading this and realize you're someone that commented like that, please know it's ok. I send love to all of those people with the reactions they had. I understand you. I know your reactions come from love, and I'm grateful to have people in my life that care enough to want the best for me. So, for your concern, I thank you.

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