Sounds like the title of an interesting book, eh? Perhaps it IS an idea for a non-fiction book about what I've learned and discovered during the past three years of living alone.
I'd always wanted to live alone from the time I was a teen. Growing up in a crowded house with three younger sisters all in one bedroom we shared, there was no privacy. Though I did live in an apartment for three months, that hardly counts. I moved back home to help my family, then along came my husband-to-be.
The first year was difficult, just breaking away from a 30+ year habit of lifestyle. Catering to someone else, always expecting DH home or planning everything around both of us. The Lifestyle Editor position brought the realization that I did not want to be around people any more than necessary. Sorry if that offends some of you, but that's just my nature. Luckily, I had the choice of not working so I settled in alone to learn about myself and understand my dream.
Now, this doesn't mean I'm extremely wealthy; but having lived a frugal life, DH and I planned for our retirement. That means I am not destitute, have a roof over my head, a car, no debts and savings. Unfortunately, I can't seem to break free of the "frugal" lifestyle, and often do without things I can afford. I often question myself, wondering if I need to be so frugal -- since I'm obviously no longer a youngster, and the future is promised to no one.
Yes, I have trouble I'm concerned about: health care is the top priority. As I've written about at length here, I have "catastrophic" medical insurance, but nothing for preventive care. However, as time passes I'm beginning to wonder if people don't run to the doctor at the least sign of a problem, when usually it will resolve itself. Also, some of the medications prescribed can do far more harm with side effects than the initial problem diagnosed.
Living alone I've also realized just how much time one spends venting to a mate about meaningless issues that one has no control over. Or griping about daily matters that are unimportant in the overall scheme of life. Both mates usually do this without even thinking whether it's necessary to "dump" on the other. It's a customary emotional outlet, but having lived this past three years without it, I've found it is NOT necessary. Usually if I'm upset, I find it dissolves on its own without forcing anyone else to be upset at my emotional reactions.
Today as I walked with my dogs along the path beside the lake, hearing the wind whisper in the tall pines, seeing the shadows of drifting clouds and the sunlight play sparkles off the lake, I realized I am very HAPPY. I have learned that I DO like living alone and enjoy my life extremely.
But it has taken me the three years to truly understand how much I love this life -- and only now am I beginning to know that I don't have to sit here waiting to "do something" with friends, family or a date. I can do whatever I wish, totally alone.
For example, this morning I decided to drive about 25 miles north to visit a flea market. Yes, it's a place I would usually avoid going alone -- yet upon close examination, I couldn't even articulate why. It's safe, even for a woman alone; half the time I went with DH, he'd be off in one direction and I'd go in the other to look at stuff according to our interests. At any rate, I went, I strolled around, I looked at whatever I wanted to -- but there were no puppies or kittens. Nothing but a bunch of sad, sick-looking chickens. Still as I walked around, it dawned on me (yeah, I know this probably would have occurred to someone else sooner) that I can go where I want, do what I want -- without somebody else in tow.
Driving home, I felt so happy and FREE! Really free, the kind of free that so few ever know -- either due to enslavement to bad jobs, bad marriages, demanding kids (even grown ones). I fantasized about a vacation -- planned alone, taking only Rambo (but not necessary, just an idea). A mini-road trip to maybe the mountains, advance reservations at a cabin or B&B somewhere near natural attractions. Why not? Money is not an issue, nor is anything standing in my way.
Or do I really want to do that? Whether I do or not, I have the means to do it should I decide to take that kind of trip. Overseas to an interesting location is also not out of the question either.
I did realize within the second year how much I cherished living alone. Eating what I want (vegetarian) when I want, staying up late reading in bed or writing; sleeping late or getting up early for some special reason. Doing housework when the notion strikes, not on a fixed schedule; shopping on a whim, or delaying it until I'm good and ready. Watching a good movie on DVD in the evenings, or afternoon. Yes, I embraced this sooner than the awakening to understanding that there is no reason I have to sit home instead of enjoy some of the activities I would with a mate or family or friend.
Of course, I've never been a socializing individual; I prefer either a couple people or one person for outings. Therefore, there was nothing to miss in that respect.
Most important of all though, I am happy, at peace and open to whatever comes my way, not dependent on anyone else to complete my sense of joy in living.
I can't help but think so many other people would benefit from this knowledge -- and not feel compelled by society or psychology/counselors to seek what they, in fact, might not need in the first place. Companionship. Romantic love. Unrewarding friends.
[Good friends are worth gold, and so is close family members.]
Yes, there is serenity in the joy of living alone.