Friday, October 10, 2008

Going It Alone

I am kind of an expert on being alone. I am not married, I live alone, and what few family members I have live far away, so I don't see them often.

Spending time alone is a necessity. We need time to ourselves to think and reflect and to just enjoy the peace and quiet. But while there are times when the solitude can be welcome, being alone isn't always a good thing.

As part of my effort to maintain a positive attitude in life, I think I've managed to embrace all that's good about being alone and to deal with the bad and the ugly of being alone.

The Good

Living alone is mostly a good thing. You have the whole place to yourself, which is awesome. No one else is there to get in your way; there's no one to pick up after (unless you have messy kitties like mine). There are no fights over the phone or the bathroom. The space is all yours. Every room is your domain, your retreat.

Some people don't like going places alone, but it actually can be very fulfilling and relaxing.

Traveling alone can be wonderful. You get so much more out of the experience when you don't have to worry about schedules or arguing about where to go and what to see. The whole itinerary is at your discretion. You can gain so much more from the experience and notice so many little things you might otherwise miss.

I traveled to Europe with a group once, and I didn't feel like I was able to enjoy it. Everything was planned to the letter. There was too much running about and no opportunity to just relax and immerse myself in the culture.

I remember when I spent a summer in New York, I spent a lot of time by myself, walking through various parts of the city, taking it all in. It was great just absorbing the sights and sounds of the city. I felt like I was a part of it. Having another person to share it with might have been nice, but I liked being on my own in a different place.

Just going anywhere alone can be great if we make an effort to enjoy it. There is so much to appreciate in life, and we need to take advantage of it. We don't need someone to accompany us every step of the way.

Another good thing about being alone is that you get to be kind of selfish. It's probably the only situation in life where it's okay to feel selfish.

You get to have everything in the house to yourself ("It's all mine!") and you get to do whatever you want and go wherever you want. Outside of your job, there's no one to answer to, no one else whose needs you have to worry about.

The Bad

The downside of being alone of course is you don't have the readily available love and support of a close family in your own home. Sometimes I do wish I had that.

It helps to remember that I am not the only person in the world who is alone. There are lots of people who don't have families, who live alone.

Another disadvantage of living alone is that you have to do everything around the house yourself. When you have MS, this can be overwhelming physically, and sometimes you really wish there was someone else around to pitch in and help. Assuming they would, anyway.

I once wrote an article for an online magazine about being a single woman with MS. In the article I mentioned how I sometimes wish someone else was around to help take out the garbage. I remember the married editor told me her husband was not home much, and when he was home he seldom took the trash out, so you don't really have any guarantee about the help.

Swinging back to the good side of being alone for a moment, living alone can give you a greater sense of self-sufficiency. Having the ability to get things done and not having to rely on others
can actually make you feel pretty good.

The Ugly

The biggest drawback to living alone is that you occasionally get lonely. Of course you can always pick up a phone and talk to a friend or family member if you need company. Sometimes, in these hectic times it's not that easy to get a hold of people though. You reach out for someone only to get the dreaded voice mail.

I always find it helpful to use that lonely time, to just fill that time up with as much activity as I can, whether it be cleaning the house or writing or playing with the cats. Or, Heaven forbid, turning on the TV. I'd rather reflect on my life, look at pictures or work on some of my lists, though. I am always finding little projects to work on around the house. I also think about what I like about being alone, and that helps.

Sometimes if we are feeling lonely, it helps to just get out of the house and go where there are lots of people and lots of activity. The park, the mall. We may not know anyone there, but we are among other people, and thus not alone.

Being alone can bring about insecurities and fears. Why am I alone? What's wrong with me? Will I always be alone? All I know is we can only take life one day at a time. If our destiny is to be alone, then that is what we will be. Finding one special person to share our life with, a soul mate, may or may not happen. Meanwhile, we need to cherish the people in our lives who matter the most to us.

The important thing to remember is to get out there and live. To not mope around about being alone and to treat ourselves and others well. Being the best people we can be makes all the difference. Letting others see our good nature and positive energy will draw them toward us.

It's Mostly Good, Though

Overall I think being alone is something to be savored. It's crucial that we make some time to be alone as often as possible. To experience the freedom of doing the things we want to do and taking the time to really think about and appreciate things. Just enjoying the quiet stillness of an empty house or maybe playing some music and dancing around. Being alone with ourselves.

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