On Being Alone

woodland path


I love my family, I really do.  My kids are great (when they aren't driving me crazy) and my husband is wonderful.  We have been married  for twenty-six years and I would marry him all over again.  But sometimes, just sometimes, when they all walk out of the house in the morning I breathe a huge sigh of relief.  Because I love that hour when I am all by myself in the house, the hour before I have to run around like a mad person and get ready to leave myself.

I love being alone.

I love the silence-no one talking, no one stomping through the house, no one...breathing?  Is that going too far?  There is a different quality to the silence when the house is empty.  Even if everyone is quietly busy there is still the potential for noise and somehow that makes it less quiet.

I love being able to do exactly what I want for a few minutes even if exactly what I want is just to sit on the couch and stare out the window while drinking a cup of tea. There is no one to complain because they ate all the groceries in twenty-four hours. There is no one asking all the "mom" questions. "Where are my gym clothes? What's for dinner?" There is no one for me to nag.  "Clean your room.  Take out the trash.  Do your homework.  Eat your vegetables."

There is just me and the thoughts in my head which sometimes are overwhelming but frequently are just things that get lost in the everyday chaos of life.  It is good to let them bubble to the surface again and feel like I am connecting with me and not just the mom who usually inhabits my body.

I like being alone.

But I also like it when everyone comes home again.  I like when my house is full of noise and conversation and laughter--I am not such a fan of the bickering but you have to take the complete package.  The thing is, there is a huge difference between being alone and being lonely.  Alone is good.  Alone is enjoying your own company and relishing the peace and quiet.  Lonely is having no one to talk to and feeling overwhelmed by the peace and quiet.

We live in a world where we are seldom alone but we are frequently lonely.  Many of us don't have the communities, the nearby families, and the life-long friendships of past generations.  We can struggle to make connections with people who don't quite "get" us.  We try desperately to align schedules with friends from our past in a frantic bid to not lose complete touch.  We can spend our lives surrounded by people but somehow still feel slightly lonely; not in any soul-destroying, cry-into-your-pillow way.  Just in a quiet "something is missing but I'm okay" type way.

If we are fortunate, we have a family we love, a family that makes us happy.

But sometimes, just sometimes, it is nice when they all go away and it is possible to enjoy being alone.  Because that kind of alone, the few stolen minutes out of a busy life, is not lonely.

12 comments

  1. YES! I have an emotional need to be alone and not speak out loud -- this is part of why I go see so many movies in the theater. Even if I'm not physically alone in that dark room full of strangers, I'm lost in the world in front of my eyes and inside my head with no one allowed to talk to me and want me to talk to them.

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    1. That is interesting. I never thought of movies as a way to be alone since you are surrounded by people but I see what you are saying.

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  2. I love my alone time. I relish it. I need it. But I also love when Nick comes home and things get chaotic again. And I love having people over in my house, eating dinner, playing games, having coffee. But I am with you, alone time is good for the soul.

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    1. I think it is all about balance. Alone time can be necessary but if it goes on for too long it just becomes lonely. Then we are happy to have people come home or to get together with friends.

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  3. I live by myself, and I relish that peace & quiet. I work in a busy office, now with an extra person (whom I'm thrilled to have), and by the end of the day I need to be somewhere quiet where I don't have to talk.

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    1. I think that is why I enjoy my quiet time so much. The work I do requires me to talk to people constantly and that is fine. But sometimes I just don't want to talk anymore and then I dream of doing something like going on vacation by myself and not talking to a soul for a solid week!

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  4. I remember in my twenties, some friends from choir dropped me off at my flat and asked who I lived with. When I told them I lived alone, they all gasped in envy. I understand them even better now that I have a family.

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    1. There are days living alone sounds very appealing, aren't there? However, I am sure we would miss the chaos and commotion of our families. Right? Tell me I'm right....

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  5. I don't have kids, but I can definitely relate to this. R and I have quite different hobbies, and I love that it means we both have lots of alone time. We're both introverts, so I know that if we spent all our time together neither of us would cope. I also love travelling on my own!

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    1. Would you believe I have never traveled on my own? I do keep planning imaginary trips for myself so maybe one of these days. Currently, I keep planning trips to Ireland.

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