When You Embrace Being Alone, Amazing Things Happen In Your Life.
“The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.” – Mark Twain
In one of my recent coaching sessions, something about one of my clients had changed. From expressing an overwhelming fear of loneliness and isolation, she spoke with an excitement about booking a vacation ALONE to Cuba!
After this session, I asked Nicole’s permission to share her experience on my blog. Without any hesitation, she agreed in hopes of helping anyone who feels an overwhelming sense of loneliness.
Nicole on one of our first sessions:
Last Saturday night, my best friend took me out for super. After my divorce was final, she thought a night out would cheer me up.
At first, it did.
We talked, we laughed, enjoyed great food and wine. Then, as we waited for desert to be served, she got up to go to the bathroom. I was left sitting at the table alone. I looked around; this was definitely a very busy night. The restaurant was crowded. I felt I was in the spotlight. As people glanced over to my table and continued talking, it seemed like they were discussing ME! Like they knew about my failed marriage and I was being judged for my husband leaving me.
I put my head down to avoid making eye contact with anyone. I tried to find some distraction that wouldn’t make me look like a pathetic loser. I began fiddling around with my napkin, tearing it up in small pieces. I began playing with my hair, twisting it into a braid. I pretended to brush crumbs off my laps. I kept thinking, “What’s taking her so long in the bathroom?” I wanted the night to be over. Go home and never be seen in public alone again!
At some point in our discussion, I asked the million dollar question:
“When was the last time you enjoyed your own company and actually spend time alone with NO distractions?”
She let out a deep sigh and said, “NEVER! Just the thought of being alone, terrifies me. It makes me feel isolated, disconnected and that I don’t exist. I’ll keep busy by cleaning the house, bake, turn on the TV, get on Facebook, anything. Forget about going out alone. I just can’t.” She let out another deep sigh, trying to keep from crying, “I feel I’m being judged if I go out alone. That I’m too boring or a complete loser for being out alone.”
Then, I asked her an even more important question, “Who are you really?”
“I don’t know, Antonia,” she said. “That’s the thing. I don’t think there’s anything worth knowing about me.”
I told her,
“Find Out! Find out for yourself instead of looking for it from an outside source whether it is someone or something.”
A few sessions went by and on one particular session, she sounded like a completely different person.
Here’s what she had to say:
It was beautiful, mild Saturday winter morning here in Montreal. I was half way in my Saturday routine of cleaning the house. I opened my bedroom drapes and paused to look outside. Remembering your words about learning to love being alone, I suddenly felt the urge to go out for a walk along the Lachine Canal which is about 15 minutes from my house. Although a part of me really wanted to, another part of me would step in and say, “It’s totally insane. Going out for a walk alone will only make me feel lonelier.” Finally, I reasoned that nothing could possibly make me feel worse, so why not give it a try.
I stepped outside and made my way towards the canal. Not a single soul was out in the streets. Of course, I thought, “You’re the only lunatic who goes out alone. Everyone must be looking out their windows, probably calling the police to come and check out the lunatic walking around their neighborhood.” I kept waiting for a police car to drive up beside me at any moment and question my whereabouts. Anyway, I got to the canal and walked up to the pedestrian walking trail. I looked out in the distance and in that moment, the view took my breath away. Everything I had on my mind, all my worries, all my anxieties, disappeared. Like that ‘someone’ had left me and I was filled with a majestic beauty I had never felt or seen before. It felt so amazing! The purity of the white snow as far as I could see, just lifted my spirit. Breathing in the cool breeze, just cleansed my soul. Although I was the only human being standing there, I didn’t feel lonely and sad. I actually felt a deep connection with the beauty around me and a connection with myself I have never felt before. I began walking and kept walking until I realized I had nearly walked almost the entire 5 km of that trail.
Something happened on that walk. I remembered the joy I had for winter activities years ago. I loved skating, skiing and snowboarding. The sensations for all the things I loved to do just surfaced without actually thinking about them (I know it sounds weird, but it’s true). Without realizing it, I had stopped doing everything I ever truly enjoyed because of other people. Well, because no one wanted to do them with me. I felt something spark up inside, an excitement about doing those things again.
At some point, I noticed a coffee shop. I decided to do something I never thought I would ever do in my life. Go and have lunch ALONE!
As I sat there, I watched the people: their facial expressions, their body language, and their conversations. I was so deeply immersed in what they were probably feeling and what they had going on in their lives that I didn’t feel in the spotlight anymore. I realized all these people had gone through and probably still going through difficult situations in their lives. I could sense a connection with some of them. It hit me, we are all the same. No matter the challenges everyone sitting here is facing, mine are no better or worse. I wasn’t threatened by what they might or might not be thinking about me. I actually began to really enjoy being alone and my own company. I loved paying attention to whom I was, the things I loved doing without someone or something justifying any of it.
When I went home, I had an energy I hadn’t felt in a very long time. I wanted to discover more.
A few weeks went by. This is what Nicole had to say:
The reason why my divorce was so painful was because I depended totally on my husband to make me feel like I existed, not out of love. We got married at 22 years old. I wanted him to remain the person he was at 22 years old to make me feel I was special. I gave up certain things and did certain things just so he would give me that same attention. Truth is, his perceptions on life changed throughout the years with his experiences. Experiences I knew nothing about because of how I wanted him to be. There was no right or wrong way to be. I know this now. I had lost myself and passion for life in trying to keep the relationship. I first needed to be able to stand alone before being able to have any healthy relationship. I know this because in the last few weeks my relationship with colleagues, friends and especially my children has drastically changed. They have not changed. But, I have stopped depending on them, my job and all my distractions to not feel lonely and isolated. How could I have possibly expected for someone to love me if I didn’t even love and appreciate myself? I get it now!
I need to have myself as my foundation and I’m the only one who can build it.
All my other relationships will be building from this foundation. The only reason why I felt lonely and isolated was not because I was alone. It was because I never gave attention to the one person, the person that no matter what happens will always be in my life, ME!
I’ve started skating and skiing again ALL BY MYSELF! I had a blast and met so many people. The weather here in Montreal has gotten really cold. I just booked a two week vacation to Cuba ALL BY MYSELF! Looking forward to relaxing, meeting new people and most of all spending more time alone with the most fun person I have just gotten to know, ME!
Nicole’s last words to YOU!
If you feel lonely, isolated and disconnected and are afraid of being alone, you are NOT alone. Yes, the thought of being alone is scary. Trust me, I was petrified of it. I learned that there’s nothing in life more painful than staying stuck with that endless emptiness inside because of being scared to be alone. It all starts with taking a walk alone. It’s incredible how it builds confidence in every aspect of your life.