I Can’t Rejoice in Being Single

Recently, someone told me that I should rejoice in being single.  Granted, this person was not saying that I should be socially isolated, but that statement really gouged my heart.   For my entire life, I considered myself a shy lone ranger.  I was as uncomfortable in groups as they seemed to be uncomfortable with me.  Even as a teenager when I thought I wanted to fit in, I did not, but I stopped caring long before I graduated from high school.  I had a few good friends that I could trust and I had a sense of belonging within my family, my school, my church, and my running community. I got to college and I maintained that sense of connection until my connection became my own family and the man my world revolved around for 23 years. 

 

People can blame that provincial circle on military moves and on the size of my family.  While all of those factors certainly played into my narrow circle, I take responsibility for not trying harder.  I let friendships go or I let friendships stay at a surface level. 

 

I am quite shy, but I am starting to change.  I am realizing why the research shows that people without connections die sooner, have heart problems, more depression, longer adjustment periods during times of body slams, higher levels of suicide, higher levels of risky behaviors, and illness.  People need to be needed and people need to belong.  Like the Cheers song, “I want to go where everyone knows my name and they are always glad I came.”

 

I have learned in my almost three years on this path of loss that I am not meant to be alone.  I stand waiting, however, because for me it isn’t about substituting or replacing.  It is simply about trusting that some how I will have a chapter two or that the loneliness will dissipate.  Part of that process is growing myself and stretching beyond my comfort level.

 

Initially, I shared of my feelings on line.  I am a runner and a writer—both of which are very solitary pursuits.  I am not a call and let’s talk about problems kind of girl.  I am not a crier.  I put on the mask of stoicism not because I feel like I must or that it is expected, but it is who I am.  By sharing of myself and opening my heart, I show transparency and vulnerability which are two key components of establishing connections with people.  The time has come, however, to establish social connections that include sharing events and stepping outside of my comfort zone.

 

I have changed.  I share more with my children and I share more with my mom.  I also share more with a select cadre of 911 friends.  I have people I can call when the walls are crashing down and the key is that they know they can call me when their walls are crashing down.  It is a mutual giving.  Ecc 4: 9 says that “two are better than one for if one falls his friend can help him up.”

 

I have changed since Phil died.  Never again will I narrow my lifeline to only one.  It isn’t fair to either person because what happens when the hard times come?  What happens when one person is gone?  What happens when the unthinkable happens?  Running, faith, a job, classes, and far off family connections go only so far.  In the words of my  daughter when she was three, “I am lonely down here.  I don’t want to be alone.”

 

While many people struggle and make poor choices in their loneliness, I keep busy.  Perhaps too busy.  I want to be needed and loved.  I want to love and to give, but I have not met a man that would be someone I would want my friend or daughter to date, let alone me.  I don’t want loneliness to be the reason I date or make concessions.  It isn’t about substituting or replacing, but it is about the need and desire to be a part of a team again.  It is strange that Phil knew I would need that even when I didn’t recognize it in myself, but it is about being excited for the weekend, happy to come home from work, and the joy received by doing little things out of love.  It is simply about having something to get up for and to live for.

 

There is a reason that attachments to people are important.  There is a reason that widows and widowers are at a high risk of death within the first year of their partner’s death.  There are psychological and physiological repercussions to solitary confinement.  Death rates are 45% higher in those that are alone.  Yes, I am one girl that wants to be connected and wants to be in long-term caring intrapersonal relationships, but that means action and risk.  If I do not like the girl in the mirror, I must change.  This change means finding a place that I fit.  It may be here, but it means action to find connections.  I would like to believe that I will love again, but I am not going to engage in dating people that I have to compromise my values for or with whom I have to hide my light with.  Being single is not a curse, but I certainly am not rejoicing in being alone so I reach my hand and take some more faltering steps. 

 

 

 

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