Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Alone and Lonely are Not the Same

Photo: Stock Xchng/CWMGary
In the past few years, I've become more aware of the references around us that being single isn't okay. The most common argument against being single is that you might end up alone. As if being alone means you're destined for a life of loneliness.

This subject is probably different for a single parent than someone that's child-free, but I don't think it's just about kids.

And frankly, I love my children more than anything, more than I've ever loved anyone, more than I could ever love anyone else. I don't want to live with them for 40 years. I can't imagine any one person's company being so fabulous that I'd want to see them every single day for decades to come.

That's not to say that I don't want or need people in my life.  I love spending hours with a friend, talking. I prefer one-on-one interaction over parties, but a small group is okay, too. Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to find more than a handful of friends whose company is (almost) always welcome.
I have awesome friends from every facet of my life; actor friends and friends I've known since I was a teenager, and friends from this job and previous jobs and blogger friends, and the list gets longer every year. Not to mention, a really huge family. There's always someone with whom I'd be happy to spend some quality time.

That's not to say that everyone's available to me 24/7. In the earlier years of single parenthood, there were definitely lonely moments where I got a friend's voice mail instead of their ear when I thought I needed it. And you know what? I survived those moments. I learned that loneliness is like every other emotion: with a beginning, a middle and an end. I would blog or cry or turn on the TV or read a book, or just sit with it until it passed. I can do that again.

I felt loneliness far more often when I was married. There are some married moms who feel like single moms, and I know what they mean because I was there. That was way worse for me.

Being alone isn't a fate worse than death. Solitude, to me, is freedom. I control the remote, I can listen to musicals until I'm sick to death of them (hasn't happened yet), I can go out or stay in, I can be silly without fear of judgment...and often am. I can just be me.

*I'm celebrating National Unmarried and Singles Week.


BigLittleWolf said...

Alone vs Lonely is such an interesting topic. For solo moms, especially, the need for solitude seems so strong - and for good reason. We rarely get a break from the onslaught.

So "solitude" becomes much desired (and needed), and the issue is to find a way to get it - and in the right amountM. Too much "alone time" leads to isolation that leads to loneliness.

It's a matter of degree - and of course temperament, and I would even say, habit.

Intriguing post.

(And let's hear it for National Unmarried and Singles Week!)

Anonymous said...

Love this blog! Such insightful posts! I agree that alone doesn't have to equal lonely. I've certainly been lonely alone but I've also been really lonely in a crowd and in relationships. And it's not like marriage or coupling in general is a sure thing fix for loneliness. There are, of course, relationships that don't work out and there are long distance relationships where one partner has to be away from home for long periods. Personally, when I'm lonely, my family--parents, siblings, nephews and friends are what I need. It doesn't have to be a romantic partner.

Tara R. said...

I have a few married friends who are very lonely. Being part of a couple doesn't shield you from that.

jenn said...

So I just wrote you a really long comment and I lost it! I hate when that happens. I'll shorten it this time...

Great post. I really like what you said about just handling with the lonely moments. I've been there and I still go there sometimes. But it isn't as bad anymore because I know that they are just moments. And I've learned how to deal with them. I think it's empowering to realize that too.

Of course I kind of would like to remarry, but I can see why you feel the way you do also. And I don't HAVE to get married. I want to, but if it doesn't happen, I know I'll be alright. So I think we're both pretty awesome. :)