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I spend some time alone these days, and that’s a good thing. I think everyone should spend some time alone.

Alone being a positive is so different from where I was one year ago, eighteen months ago.  Back then, in those dark days, I was lonely and heartbroken.  Being alone reminded me of how I’d been rejected, dumped, forsaken, cast aside. And now I know that I was lied to as well, lied to for a long time. I was delusional about my present and my future. Those days were horrible, and I forced myself to make huge changes, to restart my life, although I felt like a zombie.

Now, all is different. It is as if I am living under a new sun. A new love is a huge part of this, but there are other parts as well.  A willingness to look closer at the choices I made, to let go of the things that were holding me back like silken tethers. A good therapist.  A way of looking at the world through eyes of gratefulness and beauty, noticing the small moments in life that make me smile and feel joy and peace.

Alone time now is a mishmash of a blessing. When I am not with MKL, I miss him. But missing him can make being with him that much sweeter. And being alone with myself, my words, my thoughts, my cat, my house, ensures that I remain the me that he fell in love with – and that I fell in love with as I prepared myself to meet him.

I do not think that I will “end up” alone. In fact, my increased faith in myself, the power of the love of the universe have convinced me that none of us end up alone, even if we pass through periods of this life by ourselves. Alone now is not a bad thing.  Lonely is a little different, but both are states that can change with strength, desire, and intention.

Disclaimer: I feel this way right now. Right now, I am not in the throes of my depression. When I am again in its vile, lying, loathsome clutches, remind me that I said this. During those bouts, hope and faith are both elusive and seeming illusions.

I went searching for a synonym for alone the other day, and do you know what I found? There are barely two or three synonyms for alone that do not imply a state of sadness, emotional/spiritual poverty, depression, or abandonment. I thought that was fascinating.

Most of these synonyms flowed along the lines of isolated, lonesome, discarded, cut off, friendless. You get the picture, I’m sure. But like a miniature lighthouse, one synonym stood out as a beacon: free.

Free.

What a wonderful concept to associate with being alone. Free to choose the company of others. Unburdened by baggage. That is how I feel now.

Beautifully together, and beautifully alone.

I am lonely in a strange way tonight. 

I had a long, hard day.  I’ve had about 9 hours of sleep in the last 72 hours and I’m pooped.  But I accomplished what I set out to accomplish at work today – well, not quite, but I did the absolute best that I could, having only been there 7 days. 

I had cocktails with a nice guy, the same guy I went dancing with last Friday.  It was pleasant.  I was happy and sleepy when I took the late bus home.  I’m really sleepy now, watching some old Lana Turner/Ricardo Montalban movie on the Bonnet Channel.  Who can NOT watch Ricardo Montalban?  I’ve eaten, called Kelsea (like 5 times because I kept remembering things I meant to tell her).  I have some cautiously good news that I’ll share later, just to keep you reading and in suspense.

I was lonely though, when I got home. It’s interesting. Sometimes, when I’m slightly smugly happy, I feel REALLY alone.  I want to share that slice of joy I feel with someone else, and strangers just won’t do.  That’s why I sent an “I miss you” message tonight.  And why I came home and checked my incredibly bizarre E-Harmony matches.  I’m not ready to be in a relationship.  In fact, I am totally dedicated to being on my own and manless (and, yes, womanless, not that I had considered that as a viable option).   This is the time for me to learn, to ache, to grow, to gather my own power, so perhaps later I can be invaluablely precious to myself and to someone else.

And so now, it’s 10:00.  Kelsea and I have a really “cool” day planned tomorrow (with her really cool friend Will) but it’s one more thing I’ll leave you in suspense about (gasp – did I really end that sentence with a preposition?)  Suffice it to say, after last weekend’s auctions and alpacas, this coming weekend will be another thrill!

Sleep well – or if it’s already Saturday – have a lovely day, my friends.

Well, today was my first day at my new grown-up job in Denver.  It was good – I think I’ll enjoy the job. I sense that it will really refine my writing skills and add to my abilities.  The people are wonderful.  It will be challenging.  In short, it’s all exciting.

The weirdest thing is being alone in this.  I have never before gotten a job, started a job, without having my parents around to share in that experience, to be my “boosters”.  It’s been years and years since I’ve had a job and not had someone to come home to, or at least share my day with on the phone.  It really emphasizes my sense of loneliness.

I couldn’t sleep last night – I was nervous, excited, my stomach was in turmoil, I was missing my parents.  I had a weepy few hours, and wished there was someone I could call in the darkness when I couldn’t sleep.  I miss that.  I guess I was kind of hoping….well, it just would have been nice. 

As I said, I had a really good day, but I was weepy again going home.  Sigh.  I know I am moving forward – no, upward.  But I am still sad.  And still hurt.  And still kind of lonely.

Tomorrow, I’m going to take the bus! It may not sound exactly thrilling, but I’m excited – something else I’ve never done before.

I feel like I’m a little kid starting school again.

I’m at that awkward age between birth and death.

I think I’ve seen that on a bumper sticker.  I know I heard it from Kelsea’s lips a couple of days ago.  I am certain that it applies to me just as surely as it applies to a 14-year old.

I’m at that age where I can no longer tell if someone is being nice to me because I am a “woman of a certain age” or because they find me attractive.  Maybe it’s because I don’t know if I see myself as an attractive, desirable woman any more.  And if I don’t, I don’t think that anyone else will.  Being dumped is a real ego-killer.

My dear friend AOW recently explored the “Who am I” question on her blog.  There’s no one answer to the “WAI” question.  And who you are changes over time.  It’s fluid.  Since I’ve restarted therapy, we talk a lot about valuing myself.  I understand that on an intellectual level, and I say in my head, “of course I value myself”.  But I am suspicious – I suspect I don’t really know what that means.

Have I really spent my entire life jumping from relationship to relationship looking for safety, protection, validation?  I feel like I have spent a lot of my life alone, even though I’ve been in relationships most of the time since I was 18.  I feel like I’ve “made it on my own” – moving across the country, finishing school, getting jobs.   My ex-husband never contributed and supported (or protected) me.  I always thought I did it myself.  No one else ever contributed financially, that’s for sure.

But now, it really feels like I’m alone for the first time.  In the past, when I was single, I still had my parent’s support.  Sometimes, it feels like that’s one of the things I’ve had for so many years that’s missing now – daily contact with someone who loves me.

As I say, I rationally understand that the person who loves me with whom I need daily contact is me.  I’m working hard at understanding how to value myself, why my past relationships were examples of how I wasn’t valued, and why I allowed that to be acceptable behavior.  In short, I am doing the work I need to do in order to not make the same mistakes in the next relationship – assuming there is one.  And doing the work to understand the joy of just being me – alone.

Good for me!

Today’s guest poet – W.H. Auden.  (I believe I include this poem in an entry last year as a tribute to the poet on his birthday, but it is one of my favorites, sad as it is, and deserves another look.  I watched “Four Weddings and A Funeral” the other night, and the reading of this piece in that movie was amazingly moving. )

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

I’m really struggling with these two concepts: alone and lonely. 

My friends have always thought of me as a loner.  Fortunately, not the kind of loner that goes on some rampage and then has neighbors saying, “Oh, she always kept to herself, you know, kind of strange and quiet.”  But the kind of loner who never minds going places alone, who prefers living alone to having roommates, that sort of loner.

Movies alone?  No problem.  I started going to the movies alone when I was 14 – I was in love with Star Wars and saw it over and over again.  It spoke to my wanderlust and romantic, adventurous nature.

Restaurants alone?  Sure!  That probably started when I was 16 – as soon as I could drive, I was out the door.  I was always comfortable hanging out reading and writing at cafes.

Bars/pool halls? Naturally.  If I was old enough to get in (or almost old enough to get in), I was old enough to hang out and to kick some pool-table-pattootie.

I travelled alone a lot for work in the old days, and so I had to get used to being on my own wherever I was.  I did.  When I started going to the Caribbean, I went alone, and loved it.  I inspired other women to try travelling alone.  It was a time for me to truly come back into myself from all the pressures of my life.

But after being in a relationship, and traveling with someone for a while, and learning to love and trust, being alone has taken on a different quality for me, and I can’t seem to reconcile with it.  As I’ve said before, I used to crave and cherish my alone time.  Now, perhaps I have too much of it, or perhaps I felt so loved in my relationship that now, when I am alone, I just feel lonely.

When I go to bed, I realize that I am facing the prospect of going to bed alone for a long time.  When I wake up, I am aware of the same thing.  I refuse to compromise for less than love.  Will I someday become comfortable with this?  I suppose I will adjust to it.  But I do not think that anyone who is capable of great love is meant to be alone.  That’s where I’m struggling.  I thought I could love well.  I felt well loved.  If either of those things were true, then why am I alone now?

I had spent so much time protecting myself from being hurt, because I was being hurt all the time in my marriage.  My last relationship taught me that it was okay to trust someone, to let that guard down, and really let someone in.  Now that that relationship has ended, I feel as if I was wrong.  Wouldn’t I have been better off keeping that sheer wall up, protecting my heart?  I can’t decide if I want to put it back up again or not.  It was certainly less painful.  I was comfortable in that space.  There were some areas where I was floundering, but I’d figured out what they were and how I wanted to handle them. 

Then my heart was captured and convinced.  And even though I know all the reasons that this relationship ended, it’s been over a month, and I cannot seem to accept it.  I cannot seem to come to terms with being alone now. 

Now I am lonely, not alone.

I know I have whined about this before, and a lot of cyberfriends have provided words of comfort and encouragement.  I appreciate that and I don’t forget those words.  Don’t feel like you need to provide me with more comfort.  Just bear with my whining, because it’s probably going to continue for a while.  At least at this point, I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, train or otherwise.

Just like last night felt odd, tonight feels odd.  Not bad-odd, just odd-odd.  Know what I mean?

I had a busy and interesting day today.  Went and worked out.  Got some positive indicators that I have a remote chance of getting the house I’d like to buy.  Talked to a former boss who said she’d push along my resume at the company where she currently works, where I’m considering an interesting but demanding job.  Took a few hours to write a fantastic cover letter for a meeting facilitator/consultant job that is perfect for me.  Wrote a new poem.  Washed dishes.  Made plans with a couple of friends for different dates.  Had a good talk with a bloggy friend.  Am now watching “An Affair To Remember” (the Cary Grant-Deborah Kerr version).  The wind is blowing hard outside.

(And let me say that just because I’m looking for gainful employment doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the writing.  It’s just that if I buy the house, it would help to have some solid income for a bit.)

As the day wound down, I wanted to talk to my former guy.  It was an interesting feeling.  I miss him.  Obviously.  And he reads this, so I’m not telling him anything new.  (Hi there.)  But I was thinking about that being one of the things I miss the most about us.  We used to talk in the morning – he was my alarm clock.  We would talk at lunch about how the morning went.  We would text periodically.  We would talk on the way home from work about the rest of the day.  And we would Skype before bed.  It’s what you do when your relationship is long-ish-distance. 

It’s those going home talks that I miss the most.  That winding down of the day is the time I miss talking to him most.  I miss sharing the little (and sometimes larger) doings of the day.  I liked that.  It had a cozy intimacy to it that was special somehow.

I’m being more social and reaching out to friends and family more and it feels nice.  I’m at home alone (as of last night) and will be until Sunday, which is also fine.  I’m fine being alone, much moreso than I was a month ago.  In fact, I’m kind of happy tonight.  (So, in response to AO1’s comment, don’t feel bad for me.)

But that little conversation.  That’s the thing I miss.  I hope I’ll have that sort of thing again someday.

Today’s guest poet – Edith Nesbit

A Farewell

Good-bye, good-bye; it is not hard to part!
You have my heart — the heart that leaps to hear
Your name called by an echo in a dream;
You have my soul that, like an untroubled stream,
Reflects your soul that leans so dear, so near –
Your heartbeats set the rhythm for my heart.

What more could Life give if we gave her leave
To give, and Life should give us leave to take?
Only each other’s arms, each other’s eyes,
Each other’s lips, the clinging secrecies
That are but as the written words to make
Records of what the heart and soul achieve.

This, only this we yield, my love, my friend,
To Fate’s implacable eyes and withering breath.
We are still yours and mine, though by Time’s theft,
My arms are empty and your arms bereft.
It is not hard to part — not harder than Death;
And each of us must face Death in the end!

This is the first Thanksgiving I have spent alone in 29 years.

Thanksgiving when I was growing up was a quiet family affair.  Mother would cook a turkey, Daddy would make mashed potatoes, Mother would make gravy.  The vegetables were an afterthought.  Mother would make piecrusts and Daddy would make pies.  Sounds so equitable, doesn’t it?  We would have an early dinner, in our usual fashion, on our little low tables in  the living room.  Daddy would make a fire.  Football would be on the TV.  Every so often, one of our parents’ maiden lady friends would come over.  I don’t really recall it, but there are pictures as evidence, that one year E-Bro and I did some sort of little pageant for Doralyn and Damon.  Generally, it was just a cozy, loving relaxed time.  Very nice memories.  Warm and safe.

The first and, up until now, only Thanksgiving I ever spent alone was my first one away from home when I was 18.   Money was tight, so I decided to stay in Boston for the holiday.  I didn’t think it would be a big deal, as I had never found Thanksgiving to be a big deal.  As I wrote above, it was just a quiet holiday.  Because they closed the dorms, I was going to stay at my boyfriend’s apartment, even though he was going home to Pittsburgh. Well, we wound up breaking up shortly before Thanksgiving, but agreed that I could still stay in the apartment because he wouldn’t be there anyway.  I was really devastated by this break-up, even though we weren’t very serious, and so staying in his place was not a good idea.  I had bought myself some champagne and roses, woke up and watched the parades and drank champagne and cried.  A tradition was born.  (I also ate port wine cheese and crackers, but left that out of future reenactments of the tradition.)  I was miserable.  In the early afternoon, I pulled myself together and went to the movies to see My Brilliant Career.  It cheered me up a bit.  But then I went to Store 24 to buy myself a TV turkey dinner, and the East Indian man at the counter felt so sorry for me that he invited me to have Thanksgiving dinner with him and his family.  That was the nail in my feeling-better coffin.  I went back to the apartment, cooked my TV dinner – this was back when they came in the little three-compartment metallic trays – cried my way through dinner and the obligatory Christmas TV shows and went to bed early.  I was awfully glad that day was over.

The next Thanksgiving, I went home with my friend Elsa and spent the holiday at her house in Billerica.  I don’t recall it very well, but I remember woods, and that it was nice to be with a family, even if it wasn’t my own.

After that, I was in Boulder.  My Dad started what became a wonderful tradition.  He would come out to see me, all by himself, for Thanksgiving.  E-Bro would typically go home to see my Mother, although she spent a few Thanksgivings happily alone.  Thanksgivings with my father added to our already-close relationship.  He would usually stay at the University Inn, since I never lived anywhere large enough to have company.  We talked about everything under the sun. 

The first year, I didn’t have a kitchen, so after struggling to locate an open restaurant, we found ourselves having Thanksgiving dinner in a basement Chinese restaurant on the Pearl Street Mall.

For our second Thanksgiving, I cooked my first turkey.  I was living in my cold little upstairs apartment with the red shag carpeting that climbed the walls and the turquoise-tiled bathroom with the claw foot tub.  And the mice and faulty gas heater.  We ate on the floor, using a trunk covered with a lace shawl as our dining table.  I must have called my Mother ten times for turkey cooking advice.  He was so proud to have been there for my first bird.  It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad.

Subsequent Thanksgivings were with Pat, but my Dad still came out.  We ate at the Red Lion the first year, and cooked in our triplex for the next two years, usually having CJ and Debbie for company.  As neurotic as Debbie was, my Dad was quite fond of her.  I believe Pat and I went back to North Carolina for one Thanksgiving, just after we got engaged. 

After that, almost everything Thanksgiving was spent at my brother-in-law/sister-in-law’s house, with their girls and friends.  It was always very nice, even though it was a larger crowd than I was generally comfortable with.  My Mother came with my Dad for a couple of Thanksgivings, and  Once my parents reached a certain age, though, they both stayed in Durham for Thanksgiving.  That’s when the champagne-parade-tears tradition started.  And so it continues.

Last year, I had just moved into the cottage.  I had company, a leg of lamb, my tearful tradition, and a nice day.  This year, it is just me.  Pat’s family has invited me to share their Thanksgiving, saying it’s not the same without me.  Of course it’s not – and that’s the whole point.  If I wanted it to be the same, I’d have stayed married.  I need to separate myself from that level of family, though certainly not from Kelsea.  I need to find my own family, whether that’s in my relationship with a lover, myself , or perhaps both.

It is time to find a new tradition.

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