Being Alone--There Comes a Time

by Tom Damron
(Plano, Texas)

"I'm learning a lot about myself being alone, and doing what I'm doing."
Chantal Kreviazuk

Monophobia, or the fear of being alone, is a catch-all term for several discrete fears. Many of us are afraid of being apart from a particular person, most usually a spouse or partner. Some of us fear living alone or even to being in public alone. Still there are others who are afraid of being alone when they are at home. Nervousness while alone is surprisingly common, but having a full-blown phobia is a relatively rare fact.

It is surprising that the number of people who fear being alone is so high, nearly two-thirds of the population. When we take the time to think about it, perhaps it is just about all of us who have the fear to some degree.

We have the fear of being without a spouse or partner, but many times the fear also includes friends and family. We all generally have the fear when we are traveling alone, especially in unfamiliar places and we are lost without anyone close to us to ask for help. There is also an overbearing fear when we are taking on life without guidance and a leader because we fear a personal letdown.

Fear of being alone is an inborn, natural human emotion. There is no one who hasn't felt it in their life. The fear is deep-seated within us even though we try frantically to dispel this fear. This may well be the source of our despair: to sidestep the fear of being alone, we attempt to socialize eternally, spending inordinate amounts of time on social networks such as Facebook and we overuse e-mail in order to make contact with another human. In our effort to avoid being alone, we establish relationships with someone who pulls us down instead of building us up and we do it only to have an outlet to grasp so that we can depend on them as being reliant. We stuff ourselves with fast food, we force ourselves to shop in order to reassure ourselves, but what we buy are only substitutes for the love we seek nonstop.

But I have a surprise for you: being alone is the sanction that leads to the understanding that the peace and quiet of your aloneness is true tranquility.

If we shun the thoughts that being alone is isolated, gloomy, and futile then being alone can be judged to be limitless, the opportunity for emancipation, the opportunity to become familiar with the real you as an uninhibited joy.

This is something I’ve recently been learning the hard way. My spouse of 46 years became such a burden to me at age 79 that with heavy pushes from our son and family plus my two doctors, I reluctantly admitted her to an Alzheimer's Care Center.

It is not easy to learn to be alone again. Fortunately I've lots of support from prior co-workers, neighbors, and family. I am slowly adjusting although I admit that her adjustment to new living conditions has been smoother and quicker than mine.

I initially had the fear of aloneness, but I concentrated on learning emotional self-sufficiency and I find that it was one of the best things I’ve done for myself.

Let me give you a few ideas to try as a way to overcome the negative thoughts.

Find a place that is quiet and sit there for a few minutes with nothing on your mind. Ask yourself a few pointed questions. Start with who you think you are and why you are that person? What do you mostly think about when feeling for yourself? What are your capabilities and what are you doing about them?

If you were to look in the mirror, would you become your friend? Can you accept what you are when you consider everything about yourself? Why should anyone else accept you?

Did you find the splendor in yourself? Would that splendor shine through as you begin to discover something new in your life? Is it worth your time to reflect on your life and what it may bring in the future?

Remember what Roosevelt said in 1941? "We have nothing to fear but fear itself!"

I'm telling you that there is nothing to fear about being alone. Don't allow yourself to fear the fear.

Is that a frightening thought? You bet it is, but just think that the fact of aloneness can actually be magnificence if you set your mind to it.

Learn to overcome your fears by meeting them head-on. Go out, read a map, get lost, ask for directions, get a GPS device, use Google maps, navigate by yourself until you have the feel of being competent with finding your way around. Once you are no longer nervous, go to a strange place and conquer it without help or assistance. Discover the new you and celebrate the confidence you've gained.

What else gives you problems? Never paid a bill before? Get one out and study it. Write the check and mail it. It was easy wasn't it?

The secret is to learn the things of life management skills one step at a time. It really is a simple procedure to become fully self-sufficient in a short time span. Life is far easier when you begin to take control of your own daily needs than it is to rely on someone else to control your personal needs. Once you overcome your initial fears and become self-sufficient, then it is acceptable to rely on someone else because you have given then the task as an act of potency, not one of frailty.

Be fully aware of your surroundings and make it a point to evade any and all bad situations. Teach yourself how to escape confrontations and strange locations. Be alert in how you can defend yourself to get at least enough time to be able to make a call for help. If you spend time thinking and planning these things, you’ll feel better about traveling alone.

The trip we make through life alone is a continuous learning process and you always gather strength as you plod along. We are faced with events and situations that are akin to being lost when you can’t find your way home alone — being in that situation the first time is scary, but you're safer and better off having learned the way on your own.

Being alone doesn't mean you can’t ever be in a relationship? If fact, relationships when you have control are excellent. You just have to be wary and know that if you aren’t totally in agreement with being alone, then being in a relationship most often will turn out to be essentially a mistake.

I know you want to ask why I think that it is a mistake? I'll tell you it's a mistake because you are too prone to become dependent again. You don't want the other person because you respect them, you want them to take control of your life so that they will pay your bills, so that they will manage your life, so that they will make you safe and so that they will meet your emotional needs. You are surrendering so that the other person will give you full attention and stamp your validation ticket to what you believe will be comfort and love, but is oftentimes false. Once you submit to another person, you have lost confidence, attractiveness, power, and become less desirable in the other person's eyes.

The unsurpassed ideal is to become comfortable with being alone. You are the only one who should provide for all of your emotional needs. Make the decision that you are perfect and you can survive without anyone else to make you a complete person.

There can be lots of joy in being alone. You only need to realize that you can be alone and happy with yourself.

Being Alone Part Two Will Follow

Wendy: WOW, Tom, Go for it! Lots of great input here!

Comments for Being Alone--There Comes a Time

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Alone can be a healthy choice
by: Keeping the faith

A therapist asked me when I was separated from my husband and desperately not wanting to be divorced "isn't it better to be alone, then to be with someone who doesn't value you" and my immediate reaction was "no". Today, after 17 years of being single again and living alone, the answer is a resounding "yes".

That seed planted years ago still resonates within me in all relationships I have at this time in my life.

My tolerance level for bad relationships is much lower. I had way too high a level of tolerance for unhealthy relationships, so I am grateful for the divorce. The greatest lesson learned from it was becoming my own best friend and loving myself enough to say "no".

by: Anonymous

I have been married over 50 yrs. I feel the need to be alone more now then ever before. I enjoyed you message. It spoke to me on many levels. Thank you

It is uncomfortable to give up what we both have worked on in so many areas. Not sure it is a wise financial choice for me. Life can flip quickly and leave one flustered. Or maybe I on another level wouldn't accept this.

Thank you again for you words. Kathyj

Solitude or loneliness
by: Nina from London

After losing my husband I confronted loneliness because of an emptiness. Living in a huge house with only me rattling in it didn't help. But then I had counselling which made me see that solitude which is enjoying my own company could be achieved.

Now I love it because I can do painting or even read a good book enjoying the luxury of time well spent.

In raising a family you put your own interests on the shelf. Because you are busy most of the time there isn't room to spend time by yourself. In fact I would want to get away from everyone and just go for a quiet walk.

A book that I enjoyed was "Eat, Pray, Love" which is a woman's journey to discover all about life. One of the things was looking deep within yourself and discovering who you are and what you want.

Lonely at times I know now what I need to that I feel connected. But most of all it is my faith as I remember always the promise "I will never leave you or forsake you." My assurance that my needs will be met by God keeps me filled with peace.

Best Wishes, Nina

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

by: Sharyn~~~CANADA

Dear Betsy

Agree with everything u wrote, however, now & then l do think it would be enjoyable to have a person of the opposite sex take me out for dinner, lunch, coffee, a male friend with benefits!

I am 66 & still miss the feeling & touch of another human being~~Just thought l would let u know how l think about living alone.

Not easy to find that someone at my age, l honestly believe most people love the human part of being alive~ However, that can be difficult!

Being Alone...
by: Betsy

Aside from a very long 10-year, miserable, rotten relationship and a couple of short ones, I have lived alone for most of my adult life and I prefer it that way! In fact, I haven't been in a relationship in over 21 years. I LOVE being alone!! Losing my Independence would be one of THE worse things I can think of!! I enjoy the complete solitude and silence of NOT hearing a blaring TV or radio going while they switch channels with their remote. I love my own company. I love spending time and money the way I want to. I love the silence of my own thoughts (for the most part). I love to sit in peace and quiet to just BE. In fact, the list of my loving to be alone is endless! :-)

I am 62 and about the only thing I worry about in terms of being alone is getting sick. Even then though, I can still hire a nurse if for some reason a friend or family member can't come over.

Living alone forces you to get to know yourself better. I have always worried about anyone that can't spend a few hours alone and in peace without some other kind of noise or other people around. I happen to believe that 'Alone Time' is a necessary part of becoming who we are and why we are here.

I am also a Self-Proclaimed Introvert which actually makes it very hard to spend long periods of time with another person or persons without a break to restore my balance again. Just like recharging a battery, I need to regroup, recoup and replenish myself. But NO, you don't have to be an Introvert to enjoy being alone!!

I still spend a healthy amount of time with others, but I am just more comfortable alone. If a person is not used to being alone, it can be uncomfortable at first. However, I feel its something everyone should practice every now and again, even if you start out with short periods of time. An hour of total alone & quiet time can be very refreshing!

Being complete within
by: Anonymous

Dear Tom,

Thank you for a very insightful article. I agree with your last but one para "the unsurpassed ideal....emotional needs" However, I think that instead of trying to think we are "perfect" we should forgive ourselves for what we have done and haven't done, and then only can we accept ourselves for what we are, flaws and all, and become complete persons and be comfortable in our own skins.

We also have to accept the contradiction that "humans are social animals" The way I see it - and as you say - if we are emotionally self reliant we can then view others and the outside world as a means to enrich ourselves and not to fill an emotional void. Be complete (but not necessarily perfect)within and then look without.

From someone who's been there, and is still there sometimes.

by: Sharyn~~~CANADA

Hello Tom

I read the short novel u wrote & l agree with all that u wrote, however, when all is said & done many of us in our senior years are still very much alone.

I want to type something but just don't know how to put the words together right now? Just a little depressed today~ l spend too much x alone.

by: Anonymous

Tom, this is one of the most insightful postings that I have read here at Wendy's site, and a topic that ALL of us at one time or another in life experience.

Once again, it is not always WHAT happens in our lives, but HOW we respond to what happens. I have felt for a long time that being alone often times forces us to respond to any given situation without relying on someone else.....when often there is no "someone else."

This in fact creates a confidence within to most all challenges we come across.

The one problem, if one views it as such, is that the human spirit often times craves socialization, a topic that you touched on. When we allow ourselves to get "close" to another human being, and things do not workout, either a death, divorce or illness, we feel pain and are discomforted.

This often times leads to not wanting to "reach out" again, because we fear the hurt that another relationship might bring......ergo lonely rears it's often happens with people as they age. Learning to deal with these feelings, and even "EMBRACE" them may be a good thing and in the long run make us stronger and more self sufficient.......Amen Brother!

Table for One
by: Joe W.


Hi! It's very interesting how your using some psychology to comfort yourself in a very difficult situation. I'll be interested in what you will write about in Chapter 2 of your real life 'singleness' existence. Good Luck!

Joe W.

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