I’ve hit a stage in my grief/life process that I truly do not know how to handle — my almost total aloneness. I have close friends, even one who introduces me to people as her adopted sister, but no one of my own, no one who connects me to life on a profound level. Most people seem to have someone to anchor them to life — a spouse or life companion, a son or daughter, a parent — but here I sit, alone with my tears — no one to smile at me, to touch me, to check up on me to make sure I’m okay. If I were to get sick or incapacitated, if there were some sort of emergency in the early morning hours, there’s no one I could call to come help.
There are people in my life. Friends. A couple of siblings who contact me occasionally. And people all around the world care for me — in fact, I will soon be meeting some of those people — but they are either living with their “anchors” or are struggling with their own particular brand of aloneness.
How does one do this, this being so alone? I don’t know.
The funny thing is I never wanted to spend my life with anyone. I figured I’d always be alone, and I was comfortable with my aloneness and loneliness. Until one day I wasn’t. And there Jeff was. (I found out many years later that about that same time, Jeff was feeling lonely, wishing he had someone of his own, and suddenly there I was.)
Throughout all the years of grief, I told myself to just hang on, that eventually the pain would diminish, and I would be okay. Well, the pain did diminish, I’ve mostly gotten used to his being gone, and I am okay — no major traumas or exhausting dramas complicate my life. But oh, that late night loneliness is a killer.
I don’t even have a place — an apartment or home base of some kind — to anchor me. This is by choice because I know I would close in on myself if I were to settle into my aloneness. (People keep telling me that I wouldn’t, but the truth is, it’s happening now.) I’m sure this unsettledness is exacerbating my loneliness at the moment. Eventually, I hope to break out of this loneliness/aloneness and into a new world of experience (or do I mean a world of new experience?), but for now, all I can do is hold on and hope I don’t drift too far from any feeling of connectedness.
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)
November 14, 2015 at 12:55 pm
I hear your pain, Pat. Sadly there is little I anyone can say to assuage your loneliness, You ask how people deal with it; we just do. Or we don’t.
In my novel A Retrospect in Death I wrote what I saw as my autobiography at the end of my life: alone, unloved, unnoticed. A month after I finished writing it I met a wonderful woman who, a year later, became my wife.
I never thought it would happen. I’d given up on it. But sometimes it’s true—the moment one gives up looking is the moment someone finds you.
It’s not easy, being alone, but I’ve always said I’d rather be alone alone than alone with the wrong person. Instead of looking for the right woman, I focused on becoming the right man. I’m still a work in progress, rough around the edges, refined where it matters. I met a woman who accepts me pretty much as I am, and I accept her as she is. Neither one of us wants to fix the other. That doesn’t work.
Just hang in there. That’s all you can do. No one ever heals as good as new; but eventually a scab will form to be replaced by scar tissue. At some point the choice is yours, to risk again. Or not.
November 14, 2015 at 5:52 pm
I like your comment, that we just deal with it. Or we don’t. True, isn’t it? I remember your writing once about having given up on ever finding someone, so I was glad when I found out that you did. Life takes away, but it gives. I’m glad you found the right person because yes, it is easier to be alone than alone with the wrong person.
November 14, 2015 at 8:28 pm
Pat you handle it the same way you handled grief…honestly and one step at a time. Examine how you feel, ponder what needs you have that need to be fulfilled and aim towards meeting them. Remember when you were walking through nature and didn’t feel sad? Its because you are connected…you do belong…and you are not alone. All life is with you. Houses don’t give us that feeling, nature and people do. Be it a new relationship or a new way of being/thinking I know you will find your way. xx
November 15, 2015 at 12:04 am
A new way of being/thinking. That is exactly what I hoped for from an epic walk, and why I still dream of such a trek. I found the beginnings when I was in northern California on my hikes. That was such a special time. I was so protected by the care and caring of my friends, that my first forays into the wilderness felt like the first wanderings of growing child. It was an incredible gift they gave me, but oddly, it seemed normal. It’s only now I see how profound that time was.
This aloneness makes me want to hold tight to what connections I have, but I do know that letting go and heading out to meet the world on its terms is necessary to develop a deeper connection. Though I suppose it’s possible that aloneness, like grief, will always be a part of me.
November 15, 2015 at 9:13 pm
It is hard being with a person and feeling alone. Not having good communication with one another.
I still miss my ex-husband. We were really “Soulmates”. Due to drugs, it destroyed the marriage.
When he passed away (15 years ago). Something changed in me. He was then truly gone out of my life forever.
I have felt a loneliness that I never felt before.
I like what you write. You reach me with your thoughts.
November 15, 2015 at 9:35 pm
Thank you. It’s nice knowing I make a difference.
November 16, 2015 at 3:35 pm
I feel the same way. Late at night. After the rest of the world has gone to sleep. But I am not interested in not being alone. I have the grandkids and my son . But it is just not the same as the relationship that you have with a soulmate. There will never be another relationship like that for me. I think we are only given one soulmate!!
November 19, 2015 at 11:17 am
It seems to me the difference in family and friends versus soulmate or husband is focus. Family and friends have their own lives and problems whereas, the soulmate/husband’s focus is closer to you and you to them. It’s narrower. Even though I have a son and a sister, I often feel alone and lonely. Most of the time, it’s okay, but sometimes, not so much.
November 19, 2015 at 5:46 pm
I miss the focus. Someone to whom my well being is important to his own well being. I’ll get used to it, though I still hate the idea that I have to.
November 20, 2015 at 9:50 pm
Pat through my own choice I have been single for many years as I raised my son. He does give me a level of closeness but I always miss the connection of a love relationship. Yet still I find love in my closest friends, my animals, nature, in the goodness and kindness of others and it nurtures me. Yes, I hope one day I will find a person to share that complete intimacy with but in the meanwhile, reflecting on your “I’ll get used to it, though I still hate the idea that I have to.” well…it’s not that bad Pat :). with love x