Sunday, February 28, 2010

One is the Lonliest Number

I live in an area where if you throw a stone in any direction, you will wind up in a cute, historic town full of quaint shops and restaurants. So, since I had to drive 30-minutes away to return my son's Elvis costume, I planned to stop off at a yarn and antique store in the area of the costume shop. Just window shopping mind you. But I get a lot of ideas window shopping and since my boys were out for the day had a little time of my own. A way to battle some of the winter stir-craziness.

The town with the yarn store was filled with middle-aged couples (straight and gay) holding hands while strolling down the streets. My eyes always gravitate to these fit and young looking 60-ish pairs, smiling at one another, stopping to embrace. Then in the yarn store, women in twos were mingling about. I assume there were some that were friends and others mother-daughter or sister pairs.

It is hard always going out on one's own. But if you are someone alone and want to go somewhere, what is the option? I enjoy my window shopping excursions but would enjoy them far more if they were shared with a friend or partner. Judith Sills, PhD, in her book, "Getting Naked Again - Dating, Romance, Sex and Love When You've Been Divorced, Widowed, Dumped, or Distracted" talks about this. By the way, the book is very good. Anyway, she basically says that all of us will at some point in our lives be on our own, without a partner. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is where we are at that place in our lives.

So I try to hold my head up high and enjoy browsing the bins of brightly colored yarn or shop of antiques and collectible treasures. I try to not feel too down viewing the happy couples that seem to multiply in front of my eyes. But it is still hard and I am still lonely, even though I enjoyed my brief afternoon respite of window shopping.

I am grateful:

1. For yarn shops - I want to live in one!
2. For antique stores.
3. For book stores, whether they are chains or secondhand ones.
4. For libraries.
5. For 60-ish couples who look so vibrant and in love. Puts aside the myth that you have to be young to be happy and in love. Gives me hope that someday I'll be walking down the street joining that group sometime in the future.


  1. I find it interesting that I never really noticed other couples out and about when my husband was alive even if I was doing something alone,I guess because I knew I had someone waiting for me at home. Now it's like there is a huge neon light pointing to all the couples. It is lonely!!

  2. Beth - I think that people assume that because I have kids at home, that I am not or shouldn't be lonely. But it would be so nice to share an intimate conversation, dinner, movie, etc. with another adult.

  3. I was enjoying reading this post, then the title of that book, "Getting Naked Again," took all my attention away. Wow. The last time I was naked with someone was while on a massage table, and then I was appropriately drapped. I guess the actual last date was 6 months ago. Whether it is strolling around with the one you love, or being intimate, I miss all of those days. I also look forward to venturing out more. I hope to take your lead and just get out there. I too, need to start enjoying time out, even if it is alone. I also need to get past looking at couple with envy, and see hopefulness instead.

    Good post.

  4. Dan - Glad this was inspiring. I am making a point of looking past the envy and trying to focus on the hopefulness. Who knows? Maybe my husband and I encouraged someone years ago. And maybe my solo ventures out in the world will catch someone's eye and give them courage to be strong and keep at it.

  5. I love your point to Dan that your ventures out solo are giving others courage!
    15 years ago, at age 51, I was alone for the first time ever in my adult life and experienced the same feelings you have. It was a very slow process to get to thoroughly enjoying being alone, the freedom to make decisions to enjoy a trip like you did Saturday. Sounds like a nice day and anytime you immerse yourself in creativity you grow and allow your healing to come along a few more steps. Yarn shops and antique shops always perk me up, too.

  6. CCK - Thank you for your input. You say it was a slow process. Is there anything you can recommend to make it an easier for all of us at this point of first venturing out? I suppose it gets easier with practice for one.

  7. I know far more people who have experienced periods of being single than have spent their adult lives partnered. It is the norm, not the exception.

  8. It was very difficult....I isolated myself at home at first. I did do water aerobics daily (I had free access to these classes), I, like you, did a lot of reading, and doing volunteer work. That work actually led to a great full-time job. Today, I wrote because your trip to the antique store reminded me so much of something I did in my first period of aloneness....I would go to a huge antique center and walk around for hours, dreaming. It killed a lot of time, and inspired me....Still, I did lose friends through the process, and found myself really relying on my family and children for times out, etc. I did some dating, and had a disastrous relationship which left me bankrupt, and then again, like you, I was alone again, but I really treasured that time.....about 3 years. I really learned to be alone, do nice things for myself, plan meals just for me, and watched old movies I had never seen....the idea that I could make all my own choices was a pleasure.
    I did practice "staying in the day", and gratitude lists, like you. It helped.
    Peace to you.

  9. I, like Kitty, venture out alone frequently just to try to pass the time. My husband was the only one I enjoyed shopping with. I used to tease him he was more of a girl when it came to shopping than I was. There was an ease between us, we were always drawn in the same direction. Now, on the rare occasion when I shop with a friend, it feels forced. I am never quite sure what they want to look at and I find myself bypassing things I want to see in favor of allowing them to roam towards their choices. I would not have realized that unless you wrote this.
    It bothers me that I am uncomfortable in the presence of others sometimes.

  10. CCK - I am so glad you commented because it has soothed me to know that I was not the only one to encounter a "disastrous" relationship that left me bankrupt. Sometimes I feel like a freak because of experiencing two failed relationships so close together with one due to death and the other divorce - a double whammy!

    I love those big antique warehouses too. Right now I am trying to focus as you did to appreciate this time to do as I please. I need to make more of an effort in this direction.

    Kelly - Very interesting observations here. It is funny but I wonder if I actually went somewhere with someone how I would feel. I wonder if I would get impatient. In fact, I might feel uncomfortable or stilted as you have. It has been so many years now of being on my own and going out alone. When the boys and I lived with Sam for those 3 weeks in December there was so much discomfort. The boys later related to me that they feel more comfortable with it just being the three of us. Our way of life and interaction has become what is the norm. I remember telling Sam that it felt like a big adjustment for me too, to have to start living with another adult again. So I definitely see what you mean about being uncomfortable in the presence of others sometimes.