Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Art of Being Alone

On another blog I frequent, we've been discussing marriage, being alone, relationships and all manner of related topics. 30 years ago, I figured I'd meet Mr. Right, we'd have a long, solid marriage, children, and go on to our retirement years until death did us part.

Needless to say, my life didn't turn out that way. Yet, as I've discovered, not having the husband, the marriage, and the children has not meant that I miserably failed in my life's journey. Quite the contrary. I've made a good life for myself and am happy living it. Did I have to do some work to get to this happiness in head and heart. Yes, indeed, but I did it.

In mulling over the story I'm writing, I've thought a lot about the main character. It is really her story. She's in her mid-40s and has been married for over 20 years. Now she's left that marriage and, for the first time ever, is living alone.

I think that situation must be worse. It must be harder for someone to have to learn in her 40s how to be alone and how to construct her own happiness. At least,I think it must be holder, but I realize that I might believe that because I grew into this life. It was, for me, a gradual progression over the years. It didn't just suddenly happen in a matter of weeks or months.

When the end result is the same -- you're living alone in your 40s or 50s -- does how you arrived there mean that the result impacts you differently? Again, I think it must, but I only have my own experience to go by.

What do you think?


Glynis said...

There were 10 years between when I left my first marriage and then re-married.

Those 10 years saw me moving across the United States. I had some truly horrible dating experiences. Re-learned how to be me. (Score!)

I'm an only child. I liked being an only kid. The loneliest I ever felt in my life was during my first marriage.

Hope said...

I would say that being alone is probably easier if you've had practice and time to get your feeling about it all straightened out.

lora96 said...

Like Glynis, I'm an only and I love me some solitude to think/read/write/paint. I would much rather be alone in good company than annoyed by loud or ignorant people (no i did not enjoy dating lol).

I think it is a temperament issue in that sense. If your mc loved taking care of her husband and looking forward to talking to him, etc, she may end up talking to herself and feeling unmoored. If she's like me, frankly, there have been low points in the newlywed year when I FANTASIZED about living alone.

susan said...

There is a tremendous difference between solitude and alone. I am 55, married 30 years, and have lots of alone time....but not solitude. My alone time is filled with things I have to do for my family. I can't remember the last time I had solitude. I've been teasing my husband about a vacation....not even leaving the house, just doing what I want to do. I can't even seem to fine that time. said...

Mary Stella, this is kind of off topic, but your post title reminded me of this neat video that I've seen passed around lately:

It does nothing to illuminate your question of the differences in the journey to that point, but it made me happy.

Bona Fide Betty said...

I agree that there's a big difference between alone time and peaceful solitude. I'm a single mom, and sometimes I try to imagine what it will be like to live alone after my child grows up and goes off to college. I imagine that I will revel in the quiet, but feel sad some days. I do plan on pursuing hobbies and traveling - things I don't do now because of the time spent being a mom.

Mary Stella said...

This is sort of bizarre that blogger is eating my comments on my own blog. I'm going to try again.

Thank you all for your thoughtful input. It definitely gives me more to muse over for my character(s).