This is going to be a difficult post; I mean, difficult for me to write and say what I mean in a way that doesn't make us all want to run screaming out of whatever room we're in.
This has to do with being alone, finding peace with it, and finding the power within it. Because, ultimately (and this is where I don't want you to run screaming out of the room), we all are.
Confessions of a Mediocre Widow I wrote, "There is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. Alone is something you choose. Loneliness is not."
I remember the moment I wrote that; it was something that just popped up on the screen as I was feverishly typing away and I recall thinking, "Did I just think that??? My God. It's so true!"
I don't ever remember actually thinking that about loneliness before I wrote it and now that I look back...it's funny that I had that epiphany when I did. I was in what I thought was a stable relationship, so that really shouldn't have even been on my mind.
Believe me - you don't to venture into this labyrinth hidden under my highlights. It's a scary place to be.
Little did I know that being in a relationship has nothing to do with being alone. After all, it doesn't matter if you're in a rock-solid marriage...you're still alone. You alone interpret each moment of the day that happens to you and only you. Yes, I realize that being married or having an amazing support system means that you have people around you. But, again, only YOU are living with you.
You are alone.
Stick with me. Really. Because this isn't meant to be an "oh, woe is me, I'm all alone" moment. Coming to terms with your aloneness and truly embracing it is incredibly liberating. Why?
Because by realizing this, you'll know that you have
all the tools you need to keep moving, regardless of outside influences.
My Podcast Addiction
My kids are really sick of this, but I have been on such a podcast kick lately. And I don't really
My favorite series has been Oprah's SuperSoul Sunday. (As an aside...don't you miss Oprah???? Ugh. I do.) She's picked fascinating people to interview and the exciting thing is that I'm years behind on the series, so right now I have a never-ending supply of podcasts cued up (much to the irritation of my children).
I recently listened to her discussion with Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun I'm vaguely familiar with because she's quoted everywhere and every therapist I've seen (and I've seen my plenty) has shared her wisdom.
In the interview, I was shocked to hear that our young adult lives (in our 20s) were a little similar: She had gotten married as I had at the age of 20 - straight from her parents' house to her husband's house. Now, beyond that our stories deviate (she's been divorced twice), but she said something that truly struck a chord with me.
And that's where our stories come together again.
Being Alone Completely Changed Me
Now, I'm not a Buddhist nun (never say never), but that truly resonated with me. And the more they talked about being alone - but not in the way we've come to label it - I realized how truly empowering it is.
I think that anyone who has truly been through something catastrophic has had a sense of this, but most don't actually embrace it as they should. I came to this realization years after Brad died in the throes of a grief spell.
As I sat on my bed, sobbing so hard I could barely breathe, I mentally ran down the list of people I could call. I'm fortunate that my support system is wide and deep, but as I thought about all of those wonderful people...I realized that they couldn't help. No one else could work through this, but me.
That's not a defeatist attitude. Really think about it. Yes, we go to therapy (and we should. I LOVE THERAPY), but what that is is someone asking the right questions for us to come to terms with and work through our own personal solution. If we've had a physical injury, we have people around us who will help us with healing and physical therapy, but it's our own body that's doing the work.
What I'm trying to say is that, while we have countless means of support and help...we alone carry the tools to get through what we need to.
It is within us.
I was talking to a friend about this the other day. He was feeling helpless, trying to support another friend and not knowing what to do. I gave him suggestions - meals, listening, all the good stuff - and then ended with, "But really - he's going to have to just go through this. No one else can do it for him. Be there and be present. But understand that what needs to happen is beyond your control. It's his process."
There was a silence on the other end of the phone. "That's the smartest thing you've ever said," he replied. "You should write about that."
"Oh, for crying out loud," I said, rolling my eyes. "I wrote a whole book about it!"