On Being Alone

It’s a couples’ world. It really is. Everywhere you look, it’s about couples. And for good reason. We are social creatures. We aren’t meant to be alone. And human contact makes us healthier. Studies show that physical affection reduces stress and improves security; improves happiness with the release of oxytocin, a hormone that elevates feelings of attachment, connection, trust and intimacy; and it improves health — when we are touched our heart rate, blood pressure and levels of the harmful stress hormone cortisol are lowered.

So how then do you survive when you are single? It’s an interesting challenge. I’ve been divorced for nearly a decade. Over that time, I’ve dated sporadically, with one serious, long-term relationship. In the early years, I realized I wasn’t ready for a healthy relationship. I thought I was. I wanted it desperately, but I hadn’t yet healed. It took a lot of time and a lot of work to get here and I’m glad I did the work. My counselor guided me through the difficult process of learning to love myself and deal with my past.

After years of work, I remember when she told me she thought I was ready – done with counseling. She knew before I did that I had done the hard work and was ready to tackle the world. I wasn’t sure. It helped to process things with her. But she knew best. I now have a more meditative perspective on life. I now stop the negative self-talk. I now focus on the positive in me, others and life. Just like the butterfly, I had to struggle and fight my way out of difficulty in order to take flight. I’m ready to fly.

It’s not always easy being single. In fact, there are times when it is very difficult and lonely. These past few days are a great example. I’d taken the week off of work for spring break. I didn’t get my children until mid-week, but thought I’d tackle a few things around the house that had beckoned for months. It was very helpful and restful, and lonely. Friends were busy with their own lives. A few canceled plans at the last minute, and I found myself alone with my thoughts more often that I would have preferred. That can be a dangerous thing.

Last night, as I laid in bed thinking about my situation, I made a commitment to myself. The next time I am down, I commit to writing in my journal or my blog. I commit to getting out my paints and creating something beautiful. I commit to heading to the gym. I commit to calling a friend. I commit to getting outside and walking. I commit to self-care.

My friends may be with their families and children. I may not have someone by my side. But, I have many blessings. I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: It is better to be alone, than with the wrong person. I can date and I can fill my time with other singles I know, but if we aren’t right for each other, then it is an exercise in frustration and heartache. I must remind myself of this truism when I feel the loneliness of being single.

 

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