“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
Over the past seven years I have spent a considerable amount of time alone. My children have flown and my husband departed. This was new territory. I panicked at first, checking the locked doors multiple times and talking to my kids on the phone when there really wasn't anything to say. Eventually I settled in. I let go of the embarrassment that divorce brings, the feelings of failure and the endless looking back. Then one day I ran across a little book in a used bookstore. The title said,
It immediately became my mantra! I would go forward, I would break new trails. I felt a twinge of excitement.
My "aloneness" afforded me opportunities to see myself more clearly. I was no longer a wife or a mom with a mini van full of kids. There was a "new me" inside somewhere. I had to decide... would the world break me or would I get strong?
I started by doing the unthinkable...I went to "lunch" alone. Filling my plate at the salad bar in Jason's Deli, I tried to look nonchalant, and maybe a little mysteries. Inside I was horrified. I didn't want people to stare at me and think ..."Look at that lady, she's all alone, poor thing."
I picked a table and quietly began to eat, checking my phone multiple times so as to appear that at least I had contacts in the world. To my surprise no one was even looking at me. They were busy eating. I wasn't a spectacle, I was just a person who was hungry who had stopped to grab some lunch.
Next I took myself to the movies. That was fun. I bought a "kid size" popcorn and a big butterfinger and enjoyed the movie without someone talking in my ear. Hey... I was liking this. My journey continued as I navigated my way single handed through "check in" at the airport... that was hard, and as I learned that attending a social event "single" just required a smile and a willingness to reach out. I gained a sense of real autonomy. I was steering my own boat, course correcting along the way.
As time passed I settled even more. Although there are plenty of moments in my life when family and friends are paramount, I have come to enjoy and value my solitude... quiet moments when I can reflect and sort things out.
I have had non-stop company for two months. It's always fun to fill the house with people and noise. Good conversation by the fire is my favorite way to spend an evening. When at last the clutter has been cleared and I've waved the last good-bye and hollered the last, "I love you" I shut the door and listen... its quiet!
In the solitude I meet myself again... and I'm great company.