Alone. It can be such a scary word. Alone isn’t quite the same as lonely but it can be the precursor to a state of loneliness.
So here I am in my non-alone state having being married for nearly 20 years and I find that I am surrounded by lots of female friends and acquaintances who are single.
And many of them refer to themselves as being alone rather than single.
Like the glass half empty/glass half full scenario, the word alone conjures up all sorts of emotions.
A strong sense of self.
Many friends are taken aback at still being single in their forties. Many friends are relieved that their former partner hit the road and are enjoying spending time with themselves. Many friends veer between gladness and sadness.
And there are some who wear their quiet despair at being alone like a cloak.
I feel sad for someone today. Really sad. She was the girlfriend of one of my husband’s business associates. I only met her a few times but was struck by how painfully shy she was. Like a Victorian heroine who sits in her room all day and writes poetry. She was incredibly shy but also incredibly pretty. When she actually mustered the confidence to look at you and smile it was like a light coming on in a darkened room.
Anna is sad today. She and her boyfriend split up on the weekend after a year together. Her shyness ended up working against her. It made her clingy and needy.
She was suffocating me, her boyfriend said. I can’t be someone’s reason for living, I just can’t.
Don’t ever leave me, she said. I can’t get by without you.
What a horrible thing insecurity can be. It’s as if you open the blinds in the morning but just can’t see the sunlight. It’s like smelling the most delicious meal in the world but being unable to eat. It’s as if you signed a guarantee before you were born preventing you from ever really knowing yourself.
We all have insecurities. They are an unavoidable part of being human. It is a crying shame that some of us learn to face those insecurities head on and go postal on them, while others let those insecurities beat them and shape who they become.
I wish someone had sat down with Anna years ago and had said to her : It’s OK to be shy. It’s OK to be unassuming. But remember, always remember, that you are a worthwhile person. You are worth it.
It might have stopped her from clinging to a man who despite feeling she was worth it couldn’t overcome the sense of being stifled when he was with her. Who felt imprisoned by her need. Who cried in front of my husband at having to let her go.
When he told Anna it was over she said nothing. She cried quietly, with genuine sorrow. It broke his heart to see it.
She wouldn’t speak to him. Wouldn’t look sat him.
It was as if she was already alone, he said. As if I was already gone.
He is upset, guilty at hurting another, but relieved he no longer has to be someone’s everything.
She is sad and alone.
And I feel bad for her.
I don’t mean to make light of this but this line really fits in this instance –
Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman.