Getting comfortable in my own skin with my own life on my own time is taking patience. Trusting I can be patient to be alone means the best is yet to come.
I have never been alone. With six people in my house growing up, I was always surrounded by someone. I went to college close to home to stay near my boyfriend, now ex. I lived with the same two roommates my entire college experience, including summers, and stayed with my oldest brother after I graduated college until I got married.
My ex and I were together for nearly 18 years and have three beautiful daughters. I was never alone and that was perfectly fine with me.
So, at 39 years old when I decided I wasn’t in my marriage forever, it meant a lot of things for me and my way of life. Most scary of all, it meant I would be alone.
Did I know how to do that?
Could I live on my own and not rely on someone?
I have always been financially solid on my own. My dad encouraged me that being independent was justification for a higher education. But managing my money and household are totally different than being by myself; totally different than walking into a quiet house alone. Drastically deviating from driving to a social event and entering a room married but instead feeling terrified about where to sit or who to talk to.
There would be nothing worse than being alone. Or so I thought.
I found courage in carrying the salt after I believed I could.
I live in the country; just two houses on my road. I have one neighbor a quarter mile away and the nearest town with a grocery store is 25 miles away. Country living means well-water, well-water means having a water softener and having a water softener means using softener salt. I am responsible for getting fifty-pound bags of salt from the store to the trunk, down to the basement and into the softener. My ex did this job and the thought of doing it was annoying. So was the thought of the taking out the garbage, fixing car troubles and mowing the yard.
What did I learn?
I learned I am resourceful. I order salt online and pick it up outside the store. I handle the garbage, find the right dealership to fix my car and mow the yard for some no-think peaceful time. I find a plumber, a fix-it man for minor jobs, and one of my besties and I replaced a leaky toilet. I do all of this on my own. Taking care of stuff wasn’t a reason to stay in a bad marriage or fear being alone. Courage ran deep when I believed I could be resourceful.
I found peace in sleeping without the television on after I understood I could.
Quiet is uncomfortable for me. I tend to fill blank space with witty comments or random blabber to create noise. My pre and post-divorce house is never quiet.
The washing machine runs, the television or radio screams, and, even when the girls are sitting on the couch, their movement creates sound. I didn’t know how to be alone in the absolute quiet and after I got divorced everything was so quiet. Eerily quiet.
My ex slept with the television on. Shutting it off meant I heard the wind howl, the siding, and the windows vibrate. The sound of the kids playing, laughing and sleeping vanished. My mind raced in the silence. I dreaded dealing with my thoughts and ideas alone because they hurt too much.
But, I’ve learned to face the conversations in my head quietly and alone in the dark. I’ve done that through counseling and confiding in best friends to help me understand what I need to not feel alone. Silence brought me serenity when I understood I could handle it.
I found patience in learning being alone was ok after I trusted I could.
My ex has a girlfriend. I told him during our divorce I wanted him to find someone who made him happy. He didn’t buy that then since he didn’t want a divorce, but I truly believe his year-plus relationship with someone more like him has helped him be happier.
For me, dating has not been a priority. I didn’t even want to at first; kept thinking I’d never been alone so maybe it was time to give it a try. Then, alone was lonely and it sucked. The kids are gone half the time with joint custody and the loneliness was unbearable. I went on a few dates and it was weird and awkward.
I was with the same guy for 25 years and I knew everything about him. I had two dates and they got me all flustered.
Was this the next one for me?
Could I have random sex and not feel attached?
Would I be a good step-mom?
Did I want someone messing up the system I’ve worked three years to create?
Would I sell my house?
Could we live together?
Would the kids like him?
I couldn’t get through the short-term small talk because all I could think about were the long-term consequences! There will be a time for me to date, but it can’t be because I don’t want to be alone and it can’t be on the premise I must figure out the rest of the story on the first date. Getting comfortable in my own skin with my own life on my own time is taking patience. Trusting I can be patient to be alone means the best is yet to come.