Learning to be alone


In the past 28 days, I’ve binge-watched dozens of movies and TV shows, painted my bathroom and pantry, read three books, watched two plays, eaten more salad than chocolate, and put off writing this blog, all while I learned to be alone again.

Unlike Bridget Jones, I haven’t drunk hundreds of alcohol units to hide from my feelings nor, unlike previous break ups, have I had long-winded conversations with second-string acquaintances to air my version of events just to make me feel good. Instead, I’ve done a lot of quiet sitting and general hermitage (I don’t think that’s actually a synonym of hermit but what the hell), which has made me feel equal parts awesome and quasi-insane.

There’s a song by my beloved John Butler, it’s called Life Ain’t What It Seems, that has these lyrics “Strange as it may be; Sometimes life, you know, it ain’t what it seems”, which is resonating with me right now. So is the saying that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Clearly I’m still working on the lifetime bit when it comes to love but it does give me some hope and there’s been a short supply of that of late.

Learning to be alone again wasn’t something I particularly hankered for nor had the slightest interest in. It’s funny that after all those years that I was single, when you’re loved up, those times soon become a hazy memory, which you think will remain ever-thus. But life, you know, ain’t what it seems.

I’m trying to get out more, but then sometimes I’m trying to stay in more, too. The thought of socialising again, with my single lady hat back on, fills me with dread and sometimes a touch of despair. Thankfully maudlin self-reflection has never been one of my strong suits, so I know that such unhelpful thinking will soon pass and I’ll be back to being the idiotic “glass three quarters full” loon that I always was.

If there’s any consolation to my single person reincarnation is that the ending was as amicable as it could be. For a bunch of reasons that only we understand, our journey came to a close and I hope that each of us knows that it was the right thing for both of us to do – even though it hurt like hell.

Without scouring through the remnants of what went before, I know that our time together produced myriad magical moments that will always have pride of place in my memories. While we’ll never become one of those “lifetime” couples, our relationship sowed the seeds of some pretty awesome thinking and doing, which I know will serve us both well for whatever happens next. But that doesn’t mean I don’t keenly miss many people, places and things that have now been resigned to history.

Maybe I’m just not the marrying kind or perhaps it’s my writing that needs to be number one – I know it’s still the only thing that makes me truly happy, even though I procrastinate over it much more than I should. It’s certainly a fact that I’ve been much more successful as a writer than I’ve ever been as a lover, which makes me ponder whether there is something in that. I certainly wouldn’t be the first writer in the world whose most honest form of communication is through chapter and verse rather than, you know, talking to each other in real life. On the page, to someone like me, life is always easier to understand.

But I know that as each day passes, the future does seem, well, less bleak and I can reflect with love about how much more I’ve learned about this strange thing called life, which has to be a good thing, doesn’t it? And just like my old favourite John sings: “Everything, you know, it’s happening for a reason; So there ain’t no need, no need in worrying…” I have to believe you’re right, brother.

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