Learning to love solitude
July 25, 2008 5:34 PM Subscribe
How do I learn to enjoy being alone after a recent separation?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
My husband - of nearly ten years - and I recently separated (his idea, though it was needed). He moved in with his parents two months ago, and I'm living alone in our big, empty house while we try to sort things out. We have no children, and still speak/see each other on a regular basis.
I've never lived alone. I jumped from my parents' home to roommates to living with my husband almost immediately after we first started dating. I've been in constant relationships since I was 16 (now in my early 30s).
I'm dealing with some ugly grief and despair from the separation, but I'd like to take this time to learn how to comfortably be alone. I'm not a needy person by any means - I enjoy time alone, and while I have a lot of friends, I tend to go long stretches where I spend weekends curled up with a book. However, I've always done these things in the context of another person being around. Introvertism is a different animal when you're truly by yourself!
I keep myself busy during the day (I love my job). I see friends. I have animals and a therapist. I exercise and eat well. But I find myself panicking when I don't have plans and the long, long night stretches out before me. I watch TV; I read; I clean; I plan projects; I meditate, but I can't shake the despair of - oh, God, I'm going to be agonizingly alone forever. I start to make bad decisions, like calling my husband for comfort. (Which he doesn't take well.) I cry, a lot. A lot.
Does this go away? The existential despair? What do you do on those planless nights? How do I convince my mate-for-life brain that being by myself doesn't have to be terrifying? Though there's a possibility my husband and I will get back together, I need to proceed as if that isn't the case. (Cutting off contact will be the first big step, but I'm not ready for that yet. Working on it.) How do I shift into a single mindset? (I'm not even close to wanting to date or even have a fling.)
If it matters, I do have a long, long history of anxiety/depression (hospitals, therapists galore, you name it). However, I finally got a handle on that in the last few years and have been better than ever this year. But stress will trot out the old, panicky thought patterns.
(Also of note: while I love my job, it doesn't pay much and requires me be in the area until the end of the year, so I don't have funds/means to travel at the moment.)
Thanks for any advice you have. If you have questions, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org