My Novels

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

In order to keep my New Year's resolution, I'm going to start writing short essays for entries at this online journal, using writing prompts from various sources. I think it will be interesting, and not only help me know myself, but also perhaps give those who are younger than myself a better perspective on aging.

Today's prompt: If you had to remember the moment in your life when you felt the most alone, when would it be?

I chose this question because it was immediately easy to answer, to know exactly the time in my life I felt (and was) most alone.

DH [dear husband] had started a new career; we were both in our late 20s. We'd almost always been together, had never even spent a night apart in our ten year marriage. [We have no children by choice, and this makes us even closer emotionally.) Then suddenly, he was gone nearly all the time, engaged in his new time-consuming career. He often didn't get in until past 8:00 PM, and was away on Saturdays, sometimes Sunday too.

We lived in a rural area of the South, and I was not satisfied there. I didn't like the southern rural people, and had learned over time that gossip and innuendo spread like wildfire. Whatever one did in public (or private) was instantly known, gossiped about and turned into wild tales, becoming more and more fabricated with each telling. I'd become isolated, no likeminded person with whom to talk, (no internet back then, of course) and fell into a depression. I had worked at various part-time jobs since we'd married, mostly clerical office work which I loathed; but I was not employed at that time. I had always wanted to write creatively, but had no confidence in my talent. I had family nearby, and did see them frequently, but I still felt totally alone.

I'll never forget one late afternoon, around the time most families sit down to dinner, when I went outside for a walk along a country road. A beautiful sunset shimmered on the horizon, but it only seemed to make me feel more lonesome. I could see families sitting at dinner tables, glimpsed through windows...and felt like an alien among them. I actually ached, I was so forlorn and miserably lonely. It was one of those agonizing moments that seems to magnify all that you feel, and I wanted so badly to change my life, somehow make it different. And I knew, in one way or another, whatever it took, I would bring about that change.

And I did. Eventually we sold our house there, moved into a city; I worked at a newspaper; I volunteered at the library. But most importantly, I began to write fiction in all my free time. I had friends then too, but the writing is what truly changed my life -- and my perspective. And I must give credit to many of the postal pen friends I had during that period; they were always encouraging me about my writing talent. I took a creative writing course, and then a journalism course -- which led to my position at the newspaper. However, in time I quit that job and concentrated on my creative writing.

In retrospect, I have to admit that the poignancy of the loneliness I felt during that period was life-changing, so it served a purpose. As I've aged though, I've learned NOT to depend on any other human being to prevent loneliness. I have learned I am my own best friend, my own best companion, and I could live alone now and not be unhappy. Yes, I am still married and I do enjoy the companionship with my DH. But I also know that to depend upon any other person to keep loneliness at bay is a mistake. And the truth of this one apt quote: "We are born alone, we live alone and we die alone."

There are worse things than being alone. If you look around at some of the miserable people in destructive relationships, you'll understand the wisdom of that statement.

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