How To Be Alone
By Melanie Bates
Iím about to get real folks. Really real.
I like to be alone. Iím not simply saying, ďI like my alone time.Ē Nothing puny like that. Iím saying, ďI utterly love being alone.Ē I take a lot of flack for this — from society, from those whom I love, from therapists around the world spouting ďconnectionĒ and ďhuman interactionĒ. I have frequent conversations with myself wherein I ask, ďAm I normal? Is there something wrong with me?Ē When I allow myself to buy into societyís spigot of ďnormsĒ, Iím pretty certain that Iím whack. Except then I feel that rush of joyful bliss that makes me giggle out loud when Iím all by myself and all of those theories flush right down the drain.
Make Thanksgiving dinner the night before Thanksgiving because you simply cannot wait and youíre not expecting company anyway. Prepare only the foods you love, mainly those with a sauce of some sort. Prep your $1100 mattress for a canvas oí culinary goodness and feast on roasted turkey with sage, whipped mashed potatoes drizzled with real butter and smooth, creamy gravy, baked yams with bubbling brown sugar sauce, and Waldorf salad swimming in sugar syrup, minus the gross bananas. Watch Disney movies while you eat and spill blobs of said gravy onto said mattress. Lay there after your gorge, feeling like a sixteen year old boy who just lost his coveted virginity in 3.2 minutes. Sleep in the wet spot.
Let me say up front that I love my friends and my family and I realize that, at their hearts, they really just want to spend time with me. I should feel honored and I want this too. In theory. I love the idea of gathering with friends, catching up, breaking loaves, laughing at memories. However, when it comes down to the actual leaving of my apartment, that joy deflates like a broken condom. I want to read. I want to work at the jobs I love. I want to plot my future on my vision board. I want to write. I want to lie in bed and snuggle with the most glorious pup in the land Ė my lil So-kr8z. I want to eat directly from the fridge with the door propped open. As you can imagine, this does not go over well for the folks I disappoint.
Shower with a purple loofah, shave, wash your Egyptian cotton sheets and make your bed with them. Find your softest silk pajamas, put them on, grab a cup of steaming cocoa (always with bits of hardened marshmallow for some chew), and turn off the ringer on your phone. Get in bed at 6:30 p.m. and smell the hints of lavender & vanilla from your laundry detergent. Have your puppy lie heavily on your chest, sneaking a lick of your face with his Gene Simmons-esque tongue every few moments. Laugh from your belly because it feels as if youíre getting away with something in your secret paradise. Read a great book, wipe the puppy slobber from your cheek with the sleeve of your silk jammies, eat pumpkin seeds.
Letís not get it twisted. I understand the value of relationships. Itís just that right now I donít want to†be in any relationships. Why? I donít know. I do know itís not because Iím scarred or scared. I know itís not because I lack wonderful people in my life with whom to get out and about. I know itís not because I dislike humanity or am suffering from disappointments. What I do know is that being alone feels stupendous and that, for the first time in years, Iím enjoying the company of me, myself, and I. Adding one more person to the party (pups donít count) just feels crowded.
Study Native American spirituality for a decade. Discover that everyone has animal spirit totems that help to guide them; animals that reside within and around them that carry the same attributes as themselves. Learn that your personal ďwithinĒ animal is Bear: Introspection. Relate to that, not to the claws and a penchant for raw fetid meat, but realize that you are deeply introspective just like Bear. Guffaw when you recall that bears hibernate which feels exactly akin to what youíre doing at present. Allow your Self to be filled with Bearís attributes and hunker down in your darkened cave to dream. Store your fat for winter.
Do I have agoraphobia? No. Iím not afraid to go out, I donít mind a crowd, I just donít†want to go out. Since I took a Pleap (Pink leap of faith) eight years ago, leaving my marriage and moving across country, I have spent seven days a week for the past seven years out amongst people — buttloads of people. Add to that the fact that I had a live-in boyfriend for the past three years (the relationship just ended about six months ago) and youíll see that I was due for some quality time to myself.
Pee with the bathroom door open while playing Elvis the Rubber Chicken with your puppy. Only flush after #2ís and five #1ís to conserve water. Turn up the volume when Etta James or Van Morrison, start crooning and dance with your dog, dipping him every so often as if youíre Fred Astaire. Play hide and seek with your mutt and be sure to do puppy calisthenics with his bouncy balls, giggle at his pirouettes. Try one of your own. Fall. No one will see.
So there it is. The real me. Iím not sad. Iím not depressed. I havenít fallen out of love with the folks in my life. However, I†have fallen more deeply in love with myself and I want ďourĒ time together to be abundant, meaningful and full of self-discovery.
What about you Pinkies? Do you listen to the joy within or the masses? Do you ďbuyĒ and read the DSM-IV-TR or will you write your own diagnosis of pure bliss? Letís get real.