Solitude: listening to your own voice, finding comfort in your own skin, relying on yourself for your personal happiness and satisfaction. Henry David Thoreau may have written the quintessential book on solitude, and J.D. Salinger may have lived solitude better than anyone else, but how happy were either of these men? How happy are any of us in solitude? Is learning to be alone the only way that we can truly connect to ourselves, and love ourselves without the noise of those around us? If we crave a connection to others, by nature, doesn’t it seem counterintuitive to embrace solitude?
I have spent the majority of the last decade, alone. Despite being in relationships, I’ve been mostly by myself. I’ve found that I function better in a relationship where my partner travels or is busy most of the time, because I am a person who requires a lot of time to herself. I am an only child, and as other only children may know, you spend a lot of time in your own world when you are growing up. As an adult, it’s become a non-negotiable for me: I need time alone. I need to be able to crawl inside myself and recharge, reconnect, and find my center. If I am not able to have this time, I find that I start to burn out very quickly (and generally throw a softball of hate toward anyone who loves me). For myself, I learn to love and be easier on myself because of my time alone. I get time to rewrite the tapes that I play (where I am not good enough and I am always doing the wrong thing).
Currently, I am finding that being alone is very difficult and painful for me. Where I have always needed time to myself, this was a choice that I was making. Now, being without “P” I am not making a choice to be alone, instead I need to accept that I am. It is difficult not to run and jump into a new relationship that will take away the pain of being by myself. However, I know what the outcome of doing this would be, and doing that to another person isn’t me. Maybe it used to be me, but it isn’t me anymore.
I don’t know how happy Thoreau or Salinger were in their self-imposed solitude, but I’d guess that they had to be awfully lonely and longing for a connection.