That feeling of aloneness was not something I’d expected.
As a newly divorced woman, one of the hardest and saddest things I faced was the realisation that when I left the house nobody ever really needed to know or cared where I went, whom I was going to see, what time I would be coming back, or the interesting and/or funny happenings that occurred whilst I was out.
With my ex gone, I was never more aware of how alone I was.
That horrible feeling that nobody cares hit me like a ton of bricks one night as I was dolling myself up to hit the town with a (girl) friend, and very much put a big wet juicy dampener on any optimism I may have been feeling at that point regarding my future life as a single lady.
Of course, I had two kids who presumably (my daughter at least, most certainly) wanted their mother home safely and in one piece. But in my foggy, hazy, confused and grieving state, this fact conveniently escaped my thinking mind!
I wanted it to be how it used to be, where I would text my husband when I arrived at my chosen nightspot and he would text back to remind me to be careful. When I would check my phone at regular intervals throughout the night to see if he’d sent me messages of love. When he would tell me what time and from where he would pick me up, so I could resume my role of “wife” after my rare night out having fun without him.
Now, in my mind at least, I could go anywhere and do anything and there would be no one to notice or care. And this thought filled me with despair. Nevertheless, off I went. I met my friend, and I ate and I drank and I socialized and I faked a lot of it.
Then, towards the end of the evening, something strange happened.
I caught myself laughing, genuinely, at something my friend said. A few moments after that, I caught myself smiling in response to a man smiling at me. At me! And after yet a few more moments I caught myself dancing and laughing and smiling all at the same time.
By the time it was time to go home, it was pretty obvious that I had drank a little too much. But, I made it to my front door. And that’s when – even in my intoxicated state – a new and exciting realization hit me. And it hit me HARD. I had done it. I had survived fine – more than fine – without a husband waiting for me at the end mark.
True, I could have been (a lot) more sensible and drank more water and less wine, and caught a taxi to my door rather than walking (stumbling) from the train station on my own, and I could have removed all of my makeup and my jeans and my coat before crashing into bed.
But the most massive achievement of the night – at least in my mind’s eye – was surviving not having anyone to climb into bed with, and debrief, and assure of my wellbeing and safety. The thing that had originally depressed me the most was somehow now not as big and important as it had been earlier.
And that thing only got easier as time passed.
To help me deal and cope with the loneliness that at times threatened to rear its ugly head, I did a few different things. I made a list of all of my friend’s names. I looked at this list to remind me that I never really had reason to feel there was no one to talk to and share things with. I wrote. I learned to appreciate the loyalty and unconditional love of my dog. I hugged my kids, A LOT.
Then one day when I wasn’t looking (boy, was I not looking), I met the man I now share my life with. But even if I tried or wanted to, I could never forget the scared woman getting herself ready for that big night out not long after her husband had left her. That woman guided me to where I am today and the lessons she taught me that night, and in the weeks and months following, are inextricably engraved into my heart and my soul and my very being. She is me.