I grew up with two brothers and our family moved cities almost every two years until I was 13. New cities meant new schools. New schools meant having to make new friends. Two brothers and a whole lot of boy cousins when we visited our home city meant being left out of things for the most part.
With this background you would think that I would be very comfortable being alone.
But I wasn’t. No, I did not fear robbers or ghosts. But the thing that I was most uncomfortable was with having myself for company. So as much as I enjoyed reading, all the times that I was alone, I would make sure I was either talking to someone on the phone or mindlessly watch television. Although I never starved – no one the contrary, I binged – I would never have regular meals, where I would lay the table and sit down for a meal. And I would stay up really late into the night too. All this despite the fact that we had settled in one place and I had numerous friends.
To me be alone was synonymous with being lonely.
Bye Bye Loneliness Hello Aloneness
It is only in the last few years, when I realized that I am really an introvert, and the number of friends I have can be counted on one hand, that I have begun to enjoy the times I get to be alone. As much as I miss my husband when he is out of town for a few days, I revel in my own company. Thankfully, even when we’re together, we make sure to ‘keep spaces in our togetherness’ (yes, I’m borrowing from Khalil Gibran!).
“Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”
– Carl G Jung
Looking more closely at the change in my behaviour, I’ve realized that it has also to do with the choice I’ve made to be authentic and to strengthen the connection with people with whom I can be myself. I am no longer afraid to cut people off from my life, should I find that our connection is inauthentic. So far, I’ve not extended this to family, but I’ll admit that it’s hard to keep a connection with some members of my family too. I know that many people find this aspect of my behaviour hard to digest, but so be it. I’ll be polite and do my duty but that’s all. I am unapologetic about this. Since I’ve bid loneliness goodbye, it’s easier to make these choices.
What about you? Does the fear of loneliness make you put up with bad behaviour from others? Or does it make seek a lot of friends, often compromising on the quality of the connection? Or do you enjoy being alone?
Today’s prompt is : Loneliness
Updated to add a link to Love After Love: Derek Walcott’s Poetic Ode to Being at Home in Ourselves after it was shared with me by the lovely Cathy Chester. Thanks, Cathy! ♥