On Your Own

Once upon a time, in a time that seems like it was a million years ago, I spent every Friday night alone.

I loved it. My girls were in bed and my ex-husband and my best guy friend went to “Country Night” at this divey bar. They would generally drink too much and come home in a cab stupid, but I got to be alone. I would take a hot bath, watch Flashpoint, read a book, go to bed when I wanted (we had a marital rule that we had to go to bed together, always together. Blargh). It was lovely.

Fast forward to the separation and those random moments when we tried to be friends and I was free of the control and I would go to leave his apartment after we argued about something yet again and he would always say “Don’t go. You don’t know what it’s like to be alone. No one calls, no texts, nothing. The silence is horrible.” It wasn’t anger or control, it was mind numbing terror. He sounded so horrified, so sad, like the idea of another night by himself actually pained him. I remembered when we first split, his mother said to me “You will never understand what it is like to be so…alone.” Same thing, the terror. Even my friends would ask me how I intended to deal with being alone and they sounded scared.

Back in the summer, when I felt like things were horrible in my life and I was scraping together enough money to throw my child a decent birthday party, I ended up at his apartment. Not for any reason, except that I wanted to talk to him, rekindle our old friendship, for the girls and because I felt so completely alone. It ended horribly; we fought, I cried so hard. I ended up back @ home after a few hours feeling so small and meek. My friends were screaming @ me asking me why I’d go back there, etc. Truthfully, I just didn’t want to feel alone anymore. So, the past few months, I was afraid of feeling that weird alone place that everyone makes sound so horrifying, so I’ve been trying to spend as much time with people as possible, to avoid that feeling of alone, helpless, quiet.

However, I’m slowly learning that’s why I’m not really an equal in any of my relationships with people. Because I’m so afraid of being isolated from the people I care about, I will do anything to avoid people walking out of my life. I’ll whine, beg, act like an ass and ruin all of my interpersonal relationships. It’s not anyone’s fault; human nature is to use the tools we have to get what we want. If we feel slighted, we will use someone’s Achilles heel to achieve the desired result of “getting your own way.” We all do it, whether we want to admit it or not. However, about a week or two ago, I got thinking about the moment I feared being alone. Yes, isolation has always been used against me, as it was an oft-used childhood punishment, but during my younger years, I would fall off the grid for days, weeks, just because I wanted to veg out. If someone got mad @ me, I would apologize if it was justified and otherwise it was “oh well, if the friendship meant something, we’ll talk it out when they calm down and we’ll both get our feet out of our mouths.” It wasn’t until I heard the terror in the voices of grown men and women, that being alone was so horrifying, that you’ll eventually be driven mad by it.

So, I stopped.

I only replied to a few text messages. I stopped leaving my house except for school. I stopped calling people. I cancelled yet another date. I just sat at home. I watched TV (Chicago Fire is pretty awesome), but most importantly, I didn’t die.

In fact, it wasn’t so bad at all.

Maybe being alone isn’t so terrifying. Maybe it’s just what is. I don’t NEED to be around people to feel sane, because it’s not the end of the world to be alone. I don’t need to constantly be around people every single second of my life, inundating them with chatter or reaching out because otherwise I’ll be in this horrible void of nothingness known as the big, bad…alone.

I’ll just be learning to relax, which honestly, would do me a world of good.