As I’ve swam through the pool of crazy in my own mind over the past week, dealing with my own breakup, I’ve pushed myself to question what about being alone is so scary. In doing so, I’ve started to comprehend that for me, being alone, or single in terms of a relationship status, means that I now have to look within.
Since I came out, and started dating like my straight counterparts, I’ve always had someone who I was interested in, actually dating, or fully committed to. I’m someone who likes being in a relationship, and if I’m being completely honest, I know that I struggle with being alone.
However, understanding this has pushed me to look even deeper into the idea of being alone to answer some of my own questions, and try to reason what about being single scares not only myself, but millions of us.
Here is what I’ve determined:
1. Being alone forces us to have to sit with ourselves and our own neuroses, which go all the way back to our childhoods.
Having to relive similar feelings from when we were developing in our childhoods, is an extremely difficult thing, especially for those of us, who had traumatic experiences while in our youth.
We’re subconsciously, or sometimes consciously, reliving some of the hardest feelings of our lives from which our entire persona exists. This becomes even more difficult if those experiences, feelings, or emotions were never fully dealt with, and linger in our beings. We’re then forced to wrestle with our own ego minds, which is the very place we go to in order to feel a sense of pride.
As John C. Maxwell states, “Pride deafens us to the advice or warnings of those around us.” Thus, we must be willing to check our arrogance at the door, uncomfortably go back to our childhoods, and push through our sense of self as we have come to know it.
This is life’s biggest challenge.
2. We have to accept that we’re not perfect, and take some responsibility for why our relationships haven’t worked out.
Continuing with the theme of pride, when a relationship ends, we have to come to terms with the fact that the other person isn’t entirely to blame. To maturely take responsibility for our part in something not working out is an extremely bitter pill to swallow.
Yes, our friends and loved ones will tell us that we tried, we’re amazing, and that the other person just couldn’t meet our needs, but if we’re to truly better ourselves, we must understand how we played a role in the ending of our relationships.
This isn’t to say that the other person really couldn’t meet our needs, but it’s highly important to fully understand what our needs are, so that we can wholly comprehend them, communicate them, and try to work through them within ourselves, and one day, ideally, with someone else.
To examine this more completely, we must also understand that projection is impossible when there’s no one to project onto but ourselves. Thus we have to own our insecurities and anxieties, and responsibly and delicately change the aspects of our personalities and minds that are no longer meeting our evolving needs.
No one is perfect, and while it’s much easier to incriminate our exes, it’s much harder and more humbling to single ourselves out. If we’re to ever truly make something work then we must take some responsibility, and move forwards in a way that is productive and transforming.
Too many people want to focus on the other person, and this only leads to repeating similar mistakes, and plateauing in emotional and mental growth.
3. We have to confront the fact that the community, we’d built with our partner, is no longer a place where we can derive happiness and a larger sense of security from.
This isn’t to say that we don’t find security, support, and joy from our family and friends, but being single means we have to look out for ourselves in a very different way than when we are coupled up.
When we’re in a healthy relationship, there’s an immense sense of comfort knowing that someone else has our back, and that we have our go to person for not only the good, but also the bad. Furthermore, this is the foundation for creating a community together that ideally lends itself to the notion of a “family.”
As Art Markman explains, “The interactions we have with other people affect the way we feel about life. Our close relationships keep us grounded and influence both happiness and the sense that we are part of a larger community.”
Happiness is literally derived from a strong community, and that is why being alone can feel so daunting, especially at the beginning of a breakup.
Furthermore, a 75 year long study done by Harvard University, “The Secret of Happiness,” reveals that “the most important happiness choice is to invest in your closest relationship whether it’s a spouse, partner, parent, sibling or friend.”
Thus, it makes even more sense, that when our romantic relationship, which we tend to place a lot of emphasis on, is destroyed, our grounding sense of not only community, but also happiness is devastated. We’re forced into a state of change that is the “unknown,” which as we learn through life, initially commences as a sense of anxiety or fear.
Nevertheless, as we start the renewing process of finding a feeling of security by focusing on the other relationships in our lives that matter, most importantly the one we have with ourselves, we’re able to make sense of this “unknown,” and shifting where our happiness comes from.
Once we can logically and emotionally grasp this “unknown,” we can create a space of security from within, which is what we initially came into the romantic relationship with, and what we struggle to remove as we allow someone else into our lives, and ultimately our hearts.
Taking down the walls we’ve built is hard, and can become harder the more loss we’ve experienced in our lives. This’s why when something like a relationship ends, we feel a sense of destruction, damage, and defeat.
However, it’s beyond imperative to remember that the only way to find a greater sense of security and love is to allow those walls to come down, and let vulnerability be a guiding element in your life.
Ultimately, when a relationship ends we’re left thinking what is all of this about? Why are we here? What are we doing? Am I ever going to find that special someone?
And the truth of the matter is, we’ll never have all the answers, all we can look to do is live in the now, and focus on the positive aspects of our lives. Only we have the ability to look deep within ourselves to answer such questions, and continue to try and evolve, so that we may be better versions of ourselves for all the relationships in our lives, romantic and otherwise.
We can never truly hide from ourselves, and while a relationship sometimes feels like a validation for who we are, it can never be what makes us feel whole. Yes, it should be something that adds immense value to our lives, and brings us enormous amounts of happiness, but we should always be looking to see how we can progress into our greatest selves.
We must be the person we want to date, marry, and spend our whole life with, so that each day until we meet him or her, we know we’re already living your greatest truth.
Being alone isn’t scary at all, it’s a gift we’re given by the universe, so that we may find out who we truly are in the face of adversity, excitement, and when everything is simply ok.
There’s never an excuse as to why we shouldn’t be working on ourselves, doing the things we want to do, and going the extra mile to simply find our peace.
While we’re alone, it’s vital that we do the work, take the time, and explore every interest we may have, so that if we chose, because it is a choice, to let someone else into our life, all of this work will have been part of how we found that special someone, and ultimately how we make it last.
We've got this!