I’m 47. I had my son when I was 31 and I chose to raise him as a single parent. Of course, I had a good support system so I didn’t do it totally alone.
My relationships before my son were long ones and I never had many of those.
When my son was younger, I did have a relationship but it was short-lived. Dividing my time and energy was too draining so I chose to leave. You see, my life revolved around this boy and I just couldn't fit anything or anybody else in.
For almost 20 years and at my age, where I am at currently, I’m quite comfortable with the way I live my life – just my 16-year old son and I. There’s a sense of knowing and understanding that we’ve developed for each other. We’re damn good housemates!
With that being said, considering that I have more time on my hands and my son is busy living his own life, I’ve on several occasions contemplated dating again. Not to fill up my time with but to have a companion. But the more I thought about it, the more overwhelmed I got. Then I realized that I don’t think I can invite another person into my life – it’s too much trouble and it’ll just disrupt the flow that I’ve got going on.
I am content with my life. I love my home. Though it’s tiny and a rental, I’ve made it into a ‘home’ and to be completely honest, I don’t like people coming to the house. I feel it disrupts the ‘chi’ I’ve got going – is that bad? After, 9 – 12 hours being in the office, I love coming home. It’s a place where I find solace, find peace - my quiet place. It makes me happy and especially when my son is home. It’s my happy bubble. I have everything as I like it.
How do I even let somebody else in my life when I struggle to let them in my home!
Being alone and having time to myself and my thoughts, without the constant external chatter is extremely important to me and my mental wellbeing.
Do you ever catch yourself suddenly realising there is stillness in the air coupled by extreme silence, no gentle hum of the AC, no birds chirping, no rustling of leaves, no motorbikes, no cars - just stillness. I have these moments when I suddenly wake up in the wee hours in the morning, too early than necessary.
In a world full of noise and chatter, it's seldom that we experience these moments but when it does happen it’s a moment you wished you had more of, at least I do. The silence is so alien I can sometimes feel my ears perk up straining to find some sound somewhere in the distance but there is none. The sensation of this stillness makes me feel as if I'm the sole person in this world and there is nothing else. It's what I imagine floating space would be like. These moments only last a few minutes but it's quite special and so profound. With this stillness, I find my heart rate slowing down, awareness increases and a deep sense of gratefulness fills me.
I work in an industry where human interaction is inevitable – it’s required, so having my own mental space is also, required.
I remember once after a big hectic event that the company had been preparing for over a year, I wanted to stay in a hotel to recuperate, catch up of some much-needed sleep and maybe get a massage but the lobby was so noisy at check-in. I wanted to scream and yell at all the voices that I was hearing. So I left. I left for home.
Sometimes, in desperation, I want to run away from it all. I want to be left alone. I mean, ideally, I do want to live in a remote area in some Scandinavian country. I probably won’t survive it, but I want to anyway!
Being alone to me means ;
1. Time to Reflect. Spending so much time processing the thoughts and feelings of others, can be exhausting. Being alone allows me to turn to my own thoughts and focus on myself. It allows for a little reflection on my life.
Reflection is important in our daily lives.
For every project my son has to complete for his syllabus, there is a segment that calls for reflection. Reflecting on the project he has done and what he has learnt from it. In my opinion, this is something that all schools should practice.
Personally, it allows me to take a step back, take stock and learn from I’ve done. It gives me perspective and clarity.
2. Developing Mindfulness. For some reason, being alone and my own, taking my time to focus on me and the task at hand when I’m alone has taught me to be mindful – even if I’m just washing the dishes.
The sense of being mindful whilst doing the simplest of chores has made me notice things I normally would not. It has made me appreciate what I have and the time I have more.
It has taught me gratitude.
3. Learning New Things. Being alone doesn’t mean I have to do everything on my own but sometimes, instead of waiting for somebody to come around to fix a broken something, I go ahead and make an attempt at it. I’ve learnt to do many things on my own – fixing the toilet, a faulty sink, a leaking faucet – I’m pretty proud of myself for these!
Being alone also gives me the time to learn about things that interest me – wellness, parenting and I listen to audiobooks a lot which I LOVE!
4. Productivity. With people out of the way, being alone allows me to focus on what I need to do. At work, I intentionally come in 2 hours early before everybody else comes in – it allows me to focus on the important stuff before all the distraction that needs my attention.
Most of my more important stuff gets done during this time.
5. Time to Recharge. When we’re surrounded by other people, we’re using up a lot of energy, to make them happy, soothe their egos, reading their emotions and other things that come along with interacting with other people.
It can be mentally and emotional draining if you’re constantly connected to other people.
Alone time allows me to recharge all that energy spent. It actually alleviates stress, allows me to take deeper breaths, makes me feel so much better and it'll probably make me live longer too!
I recharge in many ways - I read a book, listen to music, lie in bed - look out the window and watch the clouds pass by, take a walk, watch a feel-good movie and my favourite - take a nap.
6. Doing What I Like To Do. Being a parent, my son’s needs come way before mine. I’m always trying to please him - I'd drop everything for him. Whether it’s dinner, a holiday, movies to watch, where we go out to, whether to get a microwave or an oven (yes, he has an opinion on that too and I respect it!) – I relent.
As an employee, of course, I’m at the service of the company and the brand and decisions are based on that. If it’s a company outing, we make compromises that would suit the whole team.
More often than not, the things that I want may not be in total alignment of what my son or the team wants.
Being alone just means I get to do what I want to do without having to compromise my needs to satisfy others. I mean, my son still comes first but then again, I’ve learnt to negotiate a balance between our needs and he’s grown into this boy who is also considerate of me and my needs and wants.
Monday’s at the office - I guess it’s the norm to be asked what we did over the weekend. It has somehow become a measurement that the more you do, the more exciting or better your life appears to be and you feel guilty for not doing much. Is doing nothing considered as doing something? I sometimes do absolutely nothing and I love it!
7. Finding Peace. Being alone gives me the calmness not only in my mind but my heart. I’m a passionate person and that can often be construed as being angry at the world and everybody in it. Being alone allows me to time , to learn, understand and reflect on why, we as humans, do the things we do.
Acceptance is key, but it might be difficult if you don't understand the whys.
I listen to a night meditation by Louise Hay which teaches me to let go of the day. Letting go doesn't come easy for me because I often re-play scenarios of the day in my head but the meditation taught me to let go. The reason being is you simply cannot change what has happened. Once I got the hang of this, the sense of peace and calm that I get out of it is something I wouldn't trade.
I know being alone might be uncomfortable for some, might be as overwhelming as to how I feel in crowded high-octave places. I might be seen as a weirdo, but actually, being alone is not necessarily a bad thing especially when you embrace it.
To me, being alone is liberating and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. I can be alone and still have a full life.