Loneliness and Alone-ness

Loneliness and alone-ness.

That’s what she told me to write about tonight for a blog challenge. I have some of the best, most remarkable women in my life and they yank on my heart strings if I don’t keep a close eye on them. I am such a sucker for a girl-learns-to-thrive-after-prince-leaves-with-the-help kind of story and with all of this thriving she’s done, I sort of let my guard down.

Nothing she throws at me now could ever beat the heartbreak I felt when Loneliness and Alone-ness’s husband left, in part because I remember every single time I heard someone tell her that “they were perfect”. She would smile that appreciative smile and remind them that nothing is perfect, but I could see that dark cloud roll through her eyes. It haunted her… as if compliments like that are numbered and even without knowing the magic number, she knew she was one well-meaning admiration closer to the end of… well, everything.

At least it feels like the end of everything when the one you love wants out of what you understood to be a lifetime commitment. It is crushing. It almost killed me when it happened to me… but then it didn’t; and Loneliness and Alone-ness was a big part of the reason I survived. She listened while I cried, obsessed, and raged. She helped me, tolerated me, and loved me.  She kept me company when I was desperately lonely. She celebrated with me (many years later) when I made peace with being alone. (Then, there was my second wedding she tried to keep me from having… but that is a blog for some other day.)

Then her world fell apart… and it was a dramatic unfolding, long and elaborate, one for the record books, complete with  gems like “she’s my soul mate” and “I just don’t love you anymore, not sure I ever did.” You know, the  shit people say when their hormones/demons/unresolved childhood issues have them by the balls (or ovaries, whichever the case may be).  I think it’s tragic for anyone to go through that, but it was especially hard to watch because she did it… perfectly.
She went to therapy, alone and together (although that was like being alone because he was just banking away all of the therapist’s ideas to help him in the relationship with his soul mate), cried and yelled and prayed and even laughed. She did “the work” in true rock star form, not because divorce perfection was what anyone expected of her, but because she realized she’d built an entire world around being his wife… and she was desperate to find herself in the rubble of all that had fallen down around her. It was like watching a woman go from black and white to color, and the paintbrush was in her hand. Through the devastation, somehow she came to life.

It seems impossible that she could possibly have gotten from me even a fraction of what I received from her during this same period much earlier in our friendship, although I bet she would say that wasn’t so. She is a remarkable woman with many friends and had lots of support during this time, and sometimes I wondered if I was there for her enough… Loneliness and Alone-ness told me that it was me she always called when she was ready to hear the truth. She knows me so well.

For example, at my house we say: If you can have her, you can have her. It was adapted, of course, for my straight friend: If you can have him, you can have him. Yes it’s funny, but it is also the truth. If my beloved can be taken, then you might as well have her/him because they are no use to me. Her husband was absolutely of no use to her, and while she went through the righteously courageous process of finding that out… I stood here and watched, and tried to resist hitting him with my car.

I don’t know much about this loneliness and alone-ness that you speak of, dear sweet friend, but I know you. I know that you are beautiful and loving, generous and funny, courageous and strong. I know you can follow a recipe like nobody else. I know you are a good, good mama. I know you can make magic on that piano, and that you have the voice of an angel. I know you are an inspiration to me and to many other women. I know you are a gift from God (yes, I said God with a big G… as in Christmas tree, because this is for YOU).

And if being alone means being with you, I think you are… a very lucky woman to get to keep such great company! I love you. Thank you for being my friend for all these years and for giving me something so beautiful to write about tonight.

Photo credit: Mitya Kuznetsov via flickr

25 comments

Lia R.
Past Member 5 years ago

I keep coming back to this one. I've never been married, but I have been through some pretty, uh, "interesting" relationships. Like the kind involving everything from mental illness, to an insane amount of dependence (from them), to an aire of codependency (usually from me), to all manner of mental games, even to one resulting in a police report. I'm currently doing the "long distance relationship" thing, with someone I met through the first of these guys... we've been off-and-on for years now, and I have to tell you... I feel stuck. Don't get me wrong, I love this guy like mad. I just... ugh, I guess I'm scared I'm headed down a path similar to your Loneliness and Alone-ness. So this kind of story is like a strange glimpse into a possible future, and a lesson/reminder that I am strong, and even if something terrible like this does happen, I can survive with the essence of me, in-tact.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener5 years ago

Big difference!

Rosie Lopez
Rosie Lopez5 years ago

lovely thanks

Daniel Lehmann
Daniel L.5 years ago

Loneliness and alone-ness... Such different concepts, yet so easily confused. I am a loner. I've pretty much always been a loner. Why? I couldn't tell you for certain. I guess I'm comfortable that way. I have no one to answer to, nobody to disagree with me. I can make decisions without having to compromise, can use my time any which way I choose to. And at this time in my life, where time is so scarce, this is a welcome opportunity. This is alone-ness. But at the same time, there are those things I hate: I have no one to answer to, nobody to disagree with me. I can make decisions without having to compromise, can use my time any which way I choose to. You don't need to re-read this comment. It's true, I did just repeat myself. The truth is that loneliness and alone-ness are two very separate concepts that so often can be found in each others' company. It can be a matter of such conflict. They are two ends of a scale. And like everything in life, this scale must be balanced. The very same things that are liberating can also be binding, when your life is not balanced. We all need alone-ness. We need to be confident in ourselves as individuals, without having to be defined by another. But we also need someone to share our lives with. What is the greatest achievement, the grandest trip, the most spectacular dream, or the moment of greatest strength, if it isn't shared? These things are still great when experienced alone, but are enhanced exponentially when shared.

pat B.
pat B.5 years ago

I like being alone...

Diane Wayne
Past Member 5 years ago

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Lynda G.
Lynda G.5 years ago

The lonliest time for me was during that growing awareness that my marriage was doomed period.

I chose to be alone after that and have been for many years and never feel lonely. I don't rule out the possibility of joining forces with someone again, I just like my life the way it is.

Perhaps I'm suited to one of those relationships where the couple have adjoining apartments, mmm, yes that sounds good to me; "I love you dearly but please leave now," bliss!

Lin Moy
Lin M5 years ago

been there

Katrin H.
Katrin H.5 years ago

when I saw the slug to this article I was like -hey - I am working that now too & have been talking about it, thinking about it, writing about it -and hating it.
In the wake of my seperation, I found out the difference of lonlieness and being alone. For me it is a time issue.
I like being alone, I am really starting to like having complete control of my time - I can do, go, stay, see, eat, drink, watch what I want. However - with a capital H - when I want to be held, or go to sleep with someone next to me, to wake up beside the warmth of another body. I can't do that when I want. and for me that is lonliness. The longing for, the reality of being alone - is your skin and soul reaching out to feel someone elses - that loves you- and not being able to touch.
You could argue that if you wanted another human to be next to you - you could have that when you wanted. The key and the kicker is that it must be from someone who you love and who loves and values you.
We cant pick that up in asile 5 or at the corner bar -
For me - there-in lies she "ness" of lonliness, saddness, awareness -
When my skin is in full awareness that it is truly only bound to me and the seeking of the warmth of love coming from another is not readily available.

irene fernandez
irene Fernandez5 years ago

There is a saying in spanish: Mas vale solo que mal acompañado (Better alone that in bad company)
I take this as truth in this case