This I Believe

Jackie - Carver, Minnesota
Entered on January 9, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in learning how to be alone. I say this today, a stay-at-home Mom in a life where I’m seldom alone. And I believe it now more than ever.

As a child I didn’t like being alone. I was a social butterfly and would beg my Mom to schedule play dates and sleepovers. I loved school, sports, and friends at an early age. For me this also meant learning about heartbreak, rejection and codependency. I experienced broken hearts and friendships, and loneliness at times. And I distracted myself by meeting new people and trying to fit in.

I reached a turning point in college when I took an English course. I learned a most important skill of reading other’s words in a way that gave meaning to my own life. I immediately fell in love with this exchange between reader and writer. Before long I started to hear my own voice in those pages.

I translated this technique into my interpretation of the world around me and my place in it, and ultimately to my relationships. It was a time of selfishness for me which I now call self care. I sought relationships that challenged me, that supported me, that were fun. I was becoming an independent thinker and I was also responsible for my own actions. I couldn’t have reached this place in my life without being alone – without stopping to listen to my own voice.

After college I found myself at the end of a three-year relationship. Our breakup was mutual and, amazingly, I was not devastated. I realized at that point that I had never truly been alone before. Not for very long. And at twenty-six I was more comfortable with my own routine and my own company than I was with the prospect of “starting over.”

So I lived alone and I relished it. I read. I journaled. I window shopped. I dreamed. I lived. I moved to my own rhythm. I healed. I was patient with myself. This time alone was the best gift I ever gave myself.

Of course, I never wanted to be alone for forever. And my time alone was a relatively short three months. A mere summer. The summer that forever changed me. The summer that I learned how to be alone. The summer that I met a great friend and my future husband.

Being a wife and mother has raised new concerns about being left alone or one of us dying in a plane crash. And initially I feel panicked. But then I realize that even in this house of husband and child and dog I am always (and will always) be alone. Alone with my thoughts. Alone with my interpretation of life and alone in my actions.

But I know how to find meaning in a book, in a relationship, and in myself to sustain me through anything. And there is comfort in that.