Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely.

janeoneIs loneliness part of your life? Are you in a relationship because you are scared of being on your own? Well then, you are not alone.

I spent years battling with the feeling of emptiness. The dysfunctional love I received as a child left me with a fear of attachment and a fear of loss. My head told me that I wouldn’t miss what I didn’t have and to be prepared to let go of anything I did have. My heart of course told me otherwise.

My heart ached. I compared my existence to those around me and saw only their happiness, their success, their sparkling futures. Whilst in my life I focused only on my pain, misery and failure. I didn’t believe in myself, so how could I be good enough for anyone else?

Not liking myself naturally meant that I didn’t like being on my own.  Medication and alcohol offered some relief but in they end my depression and alcoholism served only to reinforce my worthlessness and compound my loneliness.

“Loneliness is never more cruel than when it is felt in close propinquity with someone who has ceased to communicate.”  ~ Germaine Greer

I had plenty of friends and work colleagues but even they were kept at an emotional distance. Whilst on the inside I yearned for a meaningful relationship, the outside accepted anyone who would give me the time of day. It would be hard to describe these encounters as relationships as that implies some sort of connection or purpose. There was none. And I regularly played the game of ‘someone’s other-half’ even though being in their company made me far more lonely than being single.

Occasionally there would be someone who sensed my vulnerability and made it their mission to rescue me from myself. But the moment they did something nice, treated me well or heaven forbid told me that they loved me I would run. I knew that if I could leave before them before they left me, then it wouldn’t be as painful. Except it always hurt like hell.

When I had a complete mental and physical breakdown my isolation was excruciating.  It was something I will never forget, will never return to and would wish on no-one. But I had to face the reality that no-one could make my journey for me.The brokeness was mine. And mine alone. Only I could get sober. Only I could heal.

As faith filled the void left by alcohol so love filled the void of loneliness. Little by little I learnt how to connect with my inner soul and listen to my heart. Through forgiveness of others and of myself I was able to come to a place of peace with my past. And then I was free to live life as my authentic self.

“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” ~ Barabara de Angelis

I discovered that I as much as I appreciated being around others, I also enjoyed my own company. Instead of trying to shut myself out, I embraced who I was and what I was. And it was through this process that I learnt that being alone didn’t have to mean being lonely.

In fact the more I healed, the more I was open to relationships and the less time I spent on my own. The wonderful position I find myself in today is that I am filled with faith and surrounded by friends and family who bring me contentment and joy on many levels. Yet I am not dependent on them to fill any emptiness.

I am now in that privileged place of being able to say that I don’t feel lonely. For me, being alone means to be at ease with oneself. And for anyone who has stayed in a relationship rather than be single, they will know that this is a gift.

Amazingly, where once I would have craved company, I now seek times of solitude. Instead of a need to be in the presence of others, I look for space to be alone. A day is not complete without the experience of a few minutes of serenity.jane two

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”  ~Wayne Dyer

Alone doesn’t have to mean you no longer care for those who have passed. Alone doesn’t have to mean that you no longer care who comes into your future. What it does mean is that today,if you love yourself, alone doesn’t have to mean lonely.

Thanks to Chris Edgar at purposepowercoaching.com for his comment on ‘What’s love got to do with it? which prompted this post. And thanks to the multi-talented Jane Hinchliffe for permission to use her artwork – http://www.etsy.com/shop/JaneHinchliffe

 

78 thoughts on “Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely.

  1. I feel lonely. I thought I was helping a friend out who’s going though a hard time. And in a unhappy marriage. But she’s back with her husband and she just used me

    • It’s a tough call when you invest in a relationship only to be rejected at the end of it. It seems like you offered your friendship in the hope that it would turn out to be something more. You were her soft place to fall but now she has decided to return to her husband. It’s no wonder you hurt and no wonder you feel lonely. Because it’s at times like that when we not only miss the person who is no longer part of our lives, we also tell ourselves that no-one will ever hurt us like that again.
      You deserve so much better than to be in a relationship with someone who is on the rebound. Give yourself time to recover. And be kind to yourself. Take care.

      • We we friends before they had a jack Russell dog like I got and we going to meet up with the dogs. She got rid of it and he was a rescue dog because se she couldn’t afford it. That was cruel. I really loved her. I do feel lonely and I hate being single

      • This really doesn’t sound like a relationship that was good for you, and you do deserve someone who can share love of dogs. I’m sure if you start looking for friendships then love will follow. Take care.

  2. I loved this post, just like I do many of the other ones of yours I have read. I could relate a lot. It is a hard feeling to face when you can feel so lonely, yet be around so many people at the same time. I hated myself for the longest time and it didn’t allow me to connect to others. I totally understand the use of alcohol to cover up one’s feeling, but in the end it just makes everything worse. Short term gratification for long term pain.

    I chose to stay in the suffering for so long, but no more. It is peaceful when you can finally learn to enjoy solitude rather than freak out from being alone.

    There is a quote out there that says something like, “Learn to love yourself because you have to spend every moment with yourself.” That’s how I felt about this post. I am glad I read it. : D

    • I think the loneliness you feel when you’re around others is the hardest type of loneliness to bear. I’m glad that you are no longer hating yourself and are more able to reach out to others. That’s a lovely quote and so true! Thanks for sharing Sebastian 🙂

  3. Pingback: Best Moment Award 2 – Thank You ! | Your Inner Feathers by Ruby

  4. Great post, Carolyn. I really like the Wayne Dyer quote. My worst feelings of loneliness were the times I’d be lying next to my now ex-husband in bed and we weren’t connecting.

  5. I love your article and how you put your heart into it. I love this par which says being alone means to be at ease with oneself. And for anyone who has stayed in a relationship rather than be single, they will know that this is a gift.

  6. Congratulations I have nominated your blog for the Versatile Bloggers Award you can go to my blog to get all the details how to accept! Keep up the great work on your blog as you are making a difference and you are a human angel in my eyes. Melody

  7. I love the solitude of being physically alone yet it is wonderful to not be lonely. I have to be careful that my love for solitude does not close the door to relationships beyond my husband and family. You have given me food for thought and contemplation. Thanks.
    BTW, the artwork is amazing.

  8. I LOVE being alone! I am still amazed at this fact, because back when I was drinking, I simply could not stand to be in my own company. I went out and drank to be around others (not alone), and when I was home alone, I drank (to avoid thinking and dealing with myself and all the feelings).

    My ‘alone’ time now is sacred – it’s empowering and energising and inspiring. What a gift!

  9. Another amazing post, Carolyn! I can so relate to this part, “My heart ached. I compared my existence to those around me and saw only their happiness, their success, their sparkling futures. Whilst in my life I focused only on my pain, misery and failure. I didn’t believe in myself, so how could I be good enough for anyone else?” My life now is amazing now that I’ve grasped what you’ve described here.

  10. Loving your quotes, Carolyn. I love spending time alone, always have and always will. My husband, the people person thinks there is something wrong with me, but my take is, there’s something wrong with him that he can never stand to be by himself. I guess the magic line is balance! 🙂

  11. Carolyn, another amazingly written post with such beautiful images. A lot of people are afraid to be alone and so they grab onto any relationship so they don’t have to face who they are…without that relationship. “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” ~Wayne Dyer Love this quote and the post, dear….well said!

  12. Beautiful post. I can relate in a way because I got married to the wrong person just so I wouldn’t be alone. I knew it at the time but was determined to have someone. After it fell apart, I finally came to the realization that I would rather have myself for company than settle for another relationship that wasn’t the right one.

  13. Excellent article Carolyn! It’s so true that loneliness and being alone need not dwell together! It was not until I was in my 30s that I actually lived alone – it was a wonderful experience for me which is where I believe I learned the balance between alone time and being with others.

  14. This is a concept I’ve been thinking about lately. I’ve often said I don’t know what loneliness is. Sometimes I feel alone, but not lonely. I certainly don’t crave a relationship for the sake of it, because I’d rather be alone doing well than with someone and the rest of my life compromised. It has made sticking with relationships hard for me because I think what’s the point. So I’m not sure if it’s serving me or not. Sometimes I think it is, but sometimes it makes me not want to work so hard to have one, and I wonder if I wanted one more that I would try harder.

    • Feeling alone is very different to feeling lonely Aimee, and that’s a good point to mention. I’ve been in your position to where it’s hard to commit out of fear that the relationship is going to compromise my life. And I totally agree that it’s healthier to be alone doing well than being with someone for the sake of it. Thank you for sharing. It’s great to read what you have to say.

  15. Carolyn – you are always good for a reminder of things that are important in life…I am currently working with someone I love to teach them how to connect with me, so we can stay in eachother’s lives and not feel lonely. It is going well right now – thanks for reminding me it is important!

  16. One of life’s greatest lessons for me was to learn that I could be surrounded by many people and still be alone. Being an introvert I need alone time.

  17. This is one of those I learned a long time ago, the hard way (and frequently forget!). I needed to learn to be happy in my own company and not grasp at the nearest person for support and reinforcement. It isn’t always easy AND I believe it is essential. Thanks for sharing.

  18. In Portuguese we say, “Melhor só que mal acompanhada.” It means “Better alone than poorly accompanied.” But alone doesn’t mean lonely. In fact, I think there are more lonely people who are in poor company, or with someone for the wrong reasons … than there are lonely people who are alone. 😉 Thanks, Carolyn, for sharing your journey back from loneliness!

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  20. Carolyn, this is such a great post. I am a fully paid up member of the power of solitude! We only have to think of creative people and what they have given to the world and mostly because they dared to be alone and were willingly to inhabit and rejoice in their own space. As you say, it can take a journey to get to that place but it is a wonderful gift to have, to enjoy being with yourself. Such a lovely post – thank you. Ruth 🙂

  21. It usually surprises me when I find myself thoroughly enjoying time by myself. I have always liked time everyday that is spent alone. However, most of that time is taken up with little things that I want to get done. It’s those times when I find myself starring out the window that I enjoy the most and, at the same time, amazes me because the times are so precious.

    • That’s an interesting take on being alone Glynis. Do we spend our time alone doing things or should we allow for more time to just ‘be’. I think it’s like most things and is a question of balance. Thank you for visiting. Good to read you here!

  22. I grew up as an only child in a huge household full of adults and was pretty much by myself most of the time. I like my company. 🙂 It must be the constant stream of fantasies in my head! Lovely read, Carolyn, as always. Strangely enough, though, when I started my career, I was very gregarious. Yet, I also enjoyed my company. Always had loads to do and loved it. Now I work from home and am alone for a number of hours. But not lonely.
    Hugs!

  23. I had to keep refreshing this page to make sure that it wasn’t my name as the author on this wonderful post. Wow, you hit home for me what I have been struggling with in the last while in my recovery. A lot of these kinds of things you discuss so eloquently – the disconnection, the feeling of want, the pushing away, the utter loneliness – are things that I have been dealing with individually, but see that they are all one. The attention I used to seek externally was really a manifestation of what I sought within, and since I didn’t have a relationship with myself, I failed. And alcohol for me filled that gap. It wasn’t until I found my faith and sobriety that I was able to slowly piece these things together. It is only now that I am realizing that it’s OK to have time to myself regularly, to recharge in the quietness of me, to be able to sit with me and not want to jump out of my own skin. There is freedom and joy in that, and that then gets into my other relationships. You really hit things that I have started to feel and learn.

    Thank you so much for this lovely and strong post.

    Blessings,
    Paul

    • It’s always such a pleasure for me Paul when I read that my post has hit home. You have clearly made such progress on your journey in recovery and that is so good! Keep on feeling and learning and enjoying the freedom that you have discovered. Wishing you all the best. Blessings.

  24. Hi Carolyn, You just amaze me. Thank you for sharing again. Being a blogger and working from home I do enjoy being lone and I don’t get lonely. However I do find that I have to get out of the house some days for an hour or 2. Just so i don’t forget there is a world out there. It is great talking to my friends in the cyber world, but there is nothing like good people and that eye to eye contract.
    You have come along way and yes, we do have to learn to be alone and love ourselves. Love always fines a way.
    Debbie

  25. Carolyn, I do resonate with your post – I too hated time on my own and can see that some relationships were built on the fact that I didn’t want to be on my own. However, now I seek time on my own regularly as I find it sacred and nourishing for body and soul. I think for me the problem was depression and as much as I wanted time for myself, it often made things worse. I am so, so glad that you have found love for yourself, your faith and a wonderful family. I do believe in miracles that’s for sure! Bless you Carolyn and thank you for using my artwork (again!!) – I so appreciate it! Love Jane x

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