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As a "recovering" middle school teacher with a unique outlook on life, I stopped active teaching in 2010 and moved into another career path... writing! Here goes! In addition, I am a travel buff, forever baseball addict, movie fan, music fan, foodie extraordinaire, NCIS devotee, gardener, and more.

Just love writing for kids, travel writing and basic journalism. Pretty unusual, since I taught Home Economics! But there's a story here too - a non-fiction one or more...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Alone or just Lonely

Rule #4 – Write from your experiences
     I’m considering adding another rule to my collection. This one says “It’s all about perspective”. When you think about it, perspective is the key to everything in life, not just a term used by artists.
     The past few years have changed my perspective on a great many things. I’ve been forced to rethink many of the tenets that guided me as I grew up. Society was different in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Life was pre-scripted, roles were defined clearly, and raising children looked very similar to programming a computer. You told it what to do and it did it. Those were the days…
     Now, after the gut-kicking I got from life a few years ago, nothing is the same. I’ve analyzed myself and my personality traits. I’ve looked at my life as a wife and mother… and as a teacher…and as a woman of a certain age. I now have the blessings to feel loved, liberated, crazy, eccentric, childlike, alone, fearless, lonely, sad, emotional… and I can go on and on. I’m beginning to finally understand what these terms mean. Especially the alone and lonely terms – I thought they were the same thing. Now I know they are not.
     The dictionary defines “alone” as:
            -separate, apart or isolated,
            -to the exclusion of all others and all else
            -unique, unequalled, unexcelled
            -solitary, solely
            -only, exclusively
            -without aid or help
    It defines “lonely” as:
            -affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone, lonesome
            -destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc.
            -lone, solitary, without company, companionless
            -remote from places of human habitation, desolate, unfrequented, bleak
            -standing apart, isolated         
                        (Source: Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 16Jul2015, 11:00)
     What the two words have in common is the concept of “solitary” or “one”. The word “alone” – at least to me – has a positive vibe to it. No, not kidding. There is something about being alone that is empowering. Think of what might go through the mind of a baby as they let go and stand alone for the first few times. When you get past the “what the…?” look on the child’s face, you can see the little brain formulating plans of attack and possible destruction as curiosity takes over and they see all the things they can now get into. The child is free! They can move about! Look out world; here they come!
     I’ve been alone now for quite a while. There is a feeling of empowerment and liberation with my status. Yes, now I can do what I want, go where I want, eat what I want when I want (or not at all) without checking someone else’s schedule. Life is all mine right now. And the accountability is all mine now too. When I make a mistake, I have no one to blame but me. Success is all mine, but so is failure. If I choose not to work on a project, I can no longer complain that nothing gets done. It’s my own damn fault.
     I’ve stretched myself as a single person. My bucket list is getting items ticked off it slowly but surely… just to add more items to the list. I tried to reenter the dating scene only to revisit the emotional discomfort of puberty.
     I’ve even done “master-dating”. Now don’t freak – this is a real term defined in the Urban Dictionary. It means doing normally communal things like going to the movies, plays, concerts, and restaurants, and sitting by yourself. The dictionary says the term applies mostly to men, because when they are seen alone, others in the crowd look at them sympathetically, like the guys are pathetic losers.  Solo restaurant trips are common for me. I go to the movies solo also, with no problem. I recently attended a concert on my own, even though I met up with my cousin when I arrived. I’ve even gone to baseball games by myself – you can eavesdrop better when you are by yourself. The rest of the crowd becomes your entertainment.
     Finally in life, I’ve met myself… and I like me and we get along. It’s only taken me… how long?
     Many a day is spent by myself at home or in my “office” (a whopping 10-second commute from my bedroom). I spend my alone time writing, researching, gardening, imagining (goes with the writing), dreaming (ditto, writing), occasionally cleaning (yuk!), praying, cooking for myself, reading and more reading. Since I’ve learned that I am a functional introvert, this alone time is necessary to recharge my energy level. The recharge is needed, because when I’m out in society, I participate in a number of group activities. I sing with the chorus and church choir, am a member of our garden club, work with the bereavement ministry at church catering funeral receptions, go to group therapy sessions, and more. I am with other people most of the time, working on projects, performing, discussing, collaborating… using a lot of energy to keep myself busy. This isn’t the busyness that comes from avoiding the empty house or of feeling lonely; it’s productive busyness. And I withdraw to recharge. I don’t feel the need to be in touch or available at all times. (Take that, Verizon Wireless!)
     But, am I lonely? You can look at my schedule and think, “No way! She’s too involved with things to be lonely.” I must confess that I still get lonely some times. Right after Hub died, I felt the depressive loneliness, like a fish out of water not sure where to turn for my next breath. Now I feel the loneliness when I realize what he’s missing by not being here. It’s more a sadness than a depression. So, maybe I’m not lonely – not a question – a statement of fact. And you can feel lonely in a happy marriage, when you are in a crowd and ignored, or when you are in the work place and reminded that what you do really doesn’t matter in the great scheme of the corporation. 
    And do I still miss Hub? Sure, I do, no doubt.
    Lonely is a state of mind and alone is a state of being. I live daily in Alone, but am working to keep away from Lonely. Fear is a good buddy to Lonely, and I refuse to live anywhere near Fear. I can choose to be alone. And I can choose to allow Lonely to take possession of me. I choose to be alone for now, and there’s nothing for me to fear.
     No Fear. Choice. And it’s all about perspective.


  1. This is a great perspective on loneliness!

  2. I too have grappled with many of the issues you lay out here. It occurs to me sad, lonely, etc, for me, really mean a sense of isolation. Therefore the importance of sharing our lives..have good one!

  3. This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing. My favorite part is where you wrote "Finally in life, I’ve met myself… and I like me and we get along."

  4. This is great writing, so thoughtful and invoking. I love how you distinguish between lonely and alone. Thanks for sharing a piece of yourself with us.

  5. So true. Lonely and alone are different. Interesting connection you make between lonely and fear.

  6. Thanks for sharing. Nice perspective on the difference of lonely and alone. Nice read.

  7. First of all I am sorry about your husband. This is a very thought provoking post and very well written. After I divorced my first husband of 15 years I went felt something similar to what you're talking about . I found my own identity while I was single for years before I got remarried I miss sometimes being alone. Thank you for sharing!!!

  8. I'm inspired by how you are handling the hand life dealt you. It's amazing how a switch in how we think and see things can improve the quality of life we live, You could have easily succumbed to loneliness after your husband died. Instead, you made a conscious choice to not let loneliness infect your life even when you are alone. That takes strength and courage :-)

  9. Loved going through your post. It is so thought provoking. Thanks for sharing with us a part of you.

  10. I too went through a gut-kicking once, and it definitely changed me and who I wanted to be as a wife to my next husband. All change for the better. A good quote from the show Ally McBeal that always stuck with me: "women I think back to my loneliest moments, there was usually someone sitting there next to me."