I used to think I was the kind of person who didn’t like being alone. Maybe because growing up, I never was. We had a full house and I shared a bedroom with my sister, Janet. We were very different and sharing a room with her was a challenge to say the least. She would probably say the same thing about me.
One time Dad said we could paint our room. I wanted to paint it pink and Janet wanted black. See what I mean about different? I think we ended up with both colors, but black is what stands out most in my memory. She was a talker too. As soon as we went to bed, she would start chatting away and I would fall asleep listening to her. But for all of our differences, we were sisters and we had each other.
For most of my life I’ve lived with someone, so I guess I just figured I “needed” to have people around me. I’ve even been accused, more than once, of being afraid to be alone.
Sometimes when people share their observation of me, I will start to question my own beliefs. That can be a slippery slope to taking on someone else’s idea of who I am.
At 51, I got the opportunity to see who I really was. I found myself in a position of being truly alone for the first time in my life. I lived by myself in California, far from friends and family. I worked from home, so I didn’t have an opportunity to make connections with colleagues. I was alone. Sometimes for days and weeks on end.
I spent a year living like that, and came to realize I wasn’t afraid at all. Yes, I was lonely, but I wasn’t afraid. I set about creating my own space, exactly the way I wanted it. And for the first time in my life, I didn’t have to share anything. And I liked it.
Yes, I’m happily married now, and yes, I love all of my people. I can even see myself having a commune.
But this morning, sitting in my house writing this, I am happy with alone.