On Being Alone
Thursday, March 9, 2017
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.