Alone With My Thoughts

by Rich on August 23, 2018

Perhaps it is my age, or maybe it is the particular stage of life in which I find myself, but I have been thinking a lot about the idea of being alone. Probably because I have been a lot lately. Alone, that is.

Not a fun topic for most, and down right terrifying for many. Let’s be frank…few of us want to be alone. Even the most introverted of introverts desires some type of interaction with someone. It’s how we are made. We are communal beings. Tribal. Familial. We desire to belong to and be accepted by a group, even if that group is made up entirely of ourselves and one other person. And all of that is natural.

But I am realizing that my desire, my need to be liked; my compulsion to please and be accepted, is somewhat rooted in my fear of being alone.

Why is that?

I don’t have a real good answer. I have a few theories, but no real answers. I had a rough childhood filled with some pretty horrible things. My sisters were my tribe. We were a team, almost like POWs in a camp, trying to survive, cheering on each other when we escaped into our different versions of adulthood. I don’t want to make it sound worse than it was, but… hey… it was pretty bad. That’s just the truth of it.

All of that led to a sense of not being worth very much. And with that comes an over-active “performance” gene. I always had to be the funniest or most liked. And I suppose, in retrospect, it was because I didn’t want to be alone. I had been alone, and it was scary. And as I got older, and my sense of self worth ebbed lower, I didn’t want to be alone because, well, I didn’t like myself very much. That idea, that concept never really occurred to me until I went to the funeral of my best friend’s father. At one point, we were standing around in the kitchen, with friends milling about, and my best friend Craig, who is an only child, began talking about his dad, and worrying about his mother being alone since they now lived in different states. And his mother, a pretty amazing woman, said something that I will never forget. She said, “When I find myself alone, I find myself in very good company.” I don’t know if that quote originated with someone else, or if she came up with it herself. But my immediate reaction was, “Wow! How does somebody get like that? Do people really feel that good about themselves? That secure in who they are?” It was a foreign concept to me.

That one sentence has resonated with me, and now that I’m divorced and spending a lot of time alone, I am trying very hard to come to peace with who I am, warts and all. It hasn’t been easy. I often find myself doing things to distract from the fact that I am alone. Binge watching Netflix, eating… ok, those are the two big things. But there are other, less subtle ways. Working more hours, spending more time surfing the web. You know the drill.

But there are moments when I find some kind of weird comfort when I’m alone. Sometimes it’s in a moment of prayer, sometimes it’s just sitting down on the porch after a long day. And in those times, I catch glimpses of who I really am. The good, the bad and the ugly. And I’m coming to peace with the fact that, for all my bad and ugly (and there’s plenty of those), my good ain’t too shabby either. Don’t get me wrong. Not great. Still plenty enough to work on to keep me busy for, you know, the rest of my life, but pretty good.

I guess all of this is just me trying to organize my own thoughts on this subject. I am a flawed person. I’m selfish. I sin. I’m somewhat “broken.” But then, on a certain level, we all are. And the more I come to accept myself, the easier it is to be alone, just me and God. And the easier it is for me to be less judgemental about those around me in my life. And until I can do that…be at peace with myself, I’ll never really be at peace in my relationships.

I don’t know what path God has for me in my life. Maybe I’ll stay single. Maybe I’ll remarry. I don’t know. And I don’t have to know right now. Right now I feel strongly that I’m supposed to be working on a couple of things: being secure in who I was created by God to be, and being the best father I can be as my son transitions from child to man. That’s the season I am in, and I’m trying very hard to embrace it and learn whatever lessons God is trying to teach me.

What happens after that, and when, I have no idea. But I’ll probably find a way to squeeze some Netflix and food into it.

 

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mom August 24, 2018 at 7:02 pm

My dear son, how I love you and rejoice in the journey you are on. I love your two priorities, they seem so right to me. May God heal the broken places in your heart and any remaining woundedness and continue to reveal to you what He had planned for you when you were still in my womb. Isaiah 55: 8&9. 🙂

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