The Freedom Of Realizing You Are All Alone
When I was in my twenties I went through a series of difficult events, including financial problems, both parents dying, a marriage that fell apart, a not healthy relationship… and I found myself over the course of about a week just aimlessly driving around trying to figure out what to make of my life. Literally just getting in the car and driving around.
That may not sound particularly significant, but the truth is that I was very afraid of getting in the car and driving around by myself. In fact, what I finally faced by driving around was that I was afraid of being alone. I had known this but not admitted it for many years — that feeling you have deep down in the back of your mind… the thought that sometimes surfaces and you press down. I was really afraid of being alone.
Maybe it was because of some events in my childhood where I was alone and got scared, maybe it was because I felt that there were things I would be forced to deal with if I was left alone with my thoughts. All I knew was that I had spent an enormous amount of time and energy making sure that I wasn’t alone. Ever.
So, there I was, driving around, alone. My marriage was over, my bank account was empty, I owed lots of people lots of money, I’d left my job, I was living in a temporary apartment from boxes, I didn’t know where to go or what to do. So I faced my fear of being alone and just drove around with nothing but those thoughts I was afraid would surface to keep me company.
This was pre-cellphone days, so my only possible distraction was maybe radio stations, and since I was driving around in rural upstate New York there weren’t even many radio stations to listen to.
I drove and cried, and drove and talked to myself out loud and silently. By the end of about 5 days I’d had enough of driving around and I went back to my temporary apartment to face the reality of my life and decide what to do next.
After that something interesting happened — I became someone who really likes alone time. I started seeking out solitude and quiet, and time to be alone, and that has stayed true throughout my life. I somehow broke the fear of being alone.
I think most people have experienced the anguish of feeling that they are all alone. Of feeling that there is no one to turn to for help or companionship or comfort. You can feel that way if you are literally alone, as well as when you are surrounded by people. I believe that ultimately we are alone. Always. Maybe I’m a cynic, but I think, when it comes down to it, when it comes to the dark hour of despair in the middle of the night, you are alone. You can’t count on anyone to save you. Oh, maybe during one particular bad night a friend or family member may be available and may talk to you or hug you and make you feel better, but you can’t count on that. For every time someone is there to help, there is a time when no one is there.
Instead of fearing that moment my experience is that it is better to face it and accept it and own it. You are alone. You are always alone. Alone is the normal state of affairs. You can only rely on yourself. If you accept that and own it you will discover something paradoxical. Instead of making you feel bad, once you get through the initial panic and despair and tears and fear, you calm down and it’s ok. You need not fear anything anymore because you know that you have faced the truth.
Once you face the reality of alone-ness you are now free to celebrate not alone-ness. Your relationships with other people or animals or plants become treasured. All these amazing things and people are special. You enjoy them and appreciate them because you know they will not always be there.
Embrace your alone-ness. Experience the dark night of the soul. Then come through the other side and have fun with the people and things that do cross your path.