One of the most important parts of growing up is learning how to be comfortable being alone.
It’s one thing to be left alone when your parents go on a vacation without you, or to be alone for a weekend, or even to travel alone for a little while. There’s something liberating about being by yourself, because you have the opportunity to figure out what it is that really gets you going.
But it is an altogether different thing to truly be alone. To get home from work on a Friday and potentially not talk to anyone until Monday morning takes a certain kind of strength. It is therapeutic to have that kind of time alone, to enjoy that kind of solitude. There is no one to talk to, which can be a great thing; sometimes a person just needs to have some real alone time, where they can think and feel and react to anything and everything in their own way. It is refreshing to be able to structure your day without worrying about whether your plans fit in with anyone else. There are no rules to follow when you’re in a state of solitude; if you want to stay in pajamas all day, no one will stop you. The solitude can often be invigorating especially when you get the opportunity for reflection and introspection.
But solitude can also be a painful reminder of what is missing. Sometimes a person needs human contact; weekends spent in solitude do not well lend themselves to conversation and interaction. On those weekends where you need someone else but have no one, it’s sometimes hard to be alone and stay alone. When it starts to hurt, the solitude turns into loneliness.
When the loneliness sets in, it is almost impossible to get away from it. It fills every corner of the house and permeates everything you do. It becomes startlingly apparent that you exist independently for everyone else. There is no one else to blame when the house doesn’t get cleaned. The silence of loneliness can be deafening; it is a very hard thing to not talk to anyone, especially when there is no one to talk to. Something as mundane as cooking dinner for one can feel like a crushing weight; there is no one to share it with, and no one to talk to over that dinner. Coming home to an empty house, day after day, does wear on a person. It is nearly impossible to find someone who is happy being lonely.
No matter how comfortable you are being alone, it is hard to be comfortable being lonely. There comes a point when it is absolutely necessary to seek out someone else, even if it is just to sit in silence. Being near someone is sometimes the best relief from crippling loneliness. Crying doesn’t help. Feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t help. But there isn’t really a way out, without letting someone in.
For the time being, I have to accept that I chose this. I chose to be alone. It is my cross to bear, and I’ll bear it in silence.
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