Being on our own will come to most of us at one time or another. It may eventuate with the death of a loved partner, the disintegration of a marriage or the onset of a debilitating illness.

Fear often accompanies such change, fear of the unknown, or doubts in our ability to respond when our world is torn apart. (I remember entering my life as a single parent with a mixture of equal parts terror and excitement!) Whilst in the midst of a crisis we’re surrounded by support and the ensuing days can feel surreal. But once the crisis has passed there’s the aftermath to negotiate and the transition to a new life.  Grief must be traversed, but with the courage to keep an open heart one can become attuned to the faintest flutter of possibility.

At age 34 the onset of multiple sclerosis sealed my destiny and for nearly a third of my life I’ve spent much of my time alone.  This is a far cry from the social being I once was, and for many years I rallied against the loss of freedom.  My identity had been built on friendships, work, travel and outdoor pursuits, but in my new life days are defined by by rest breaks and everyday tasks scheduled according to pain and energy levels.  My social life is sparse as I’m tucked up in bed around the same time kids are being read their bedtime stories!

We are social animals by nature.  We receive validation from others; we gain empathy, information, relaxation and blessed distraction.  When this outlet is removed it can feel akin to falling into an abyss, unchecked it can degenerate into depression. With newfound circumstances, venturing out alone can feel intimidating.  As a newly single person you seem to inhabit less space, as a person with a health condition the world can feel perplexing and exhausting.  After a while the prospect of spending time alone may seem inviting.  There’s opportunity to re-evaluate life choices. Curiosity gradually replaces fear.  Space becomes available to contemplate our life’s purpose.

Getting involved again is certainly an option for many.  But whenever I hear of somebody freshly single joining a dating site, I wonder at the rush to find a new partner.  Hold on! Take a breather! I want to say.  Just stand where you are; it’s uncomfortable, yes… it’s boring, I know…. it might also turn dark. But if you can stand still in the desert humbled, if you can surrender to your own aloneness, you will discover there’s an oasis inside; it’s not to be found in some mirage beckoning toward a new relationship, or any activity that does not feel authentic.  If you can stand alone, and like me you may fall repeatedly, it becomes apparent there exists another world, an inner world without rules and regulations or man-made expectations.  It’s an anarchic world connected to something greater, some call it God, some call it peace.

This is not to say we need remain alone forever.  The more we stand alone with ourselves the more secure we become which in turn leads to freedom.  Trust grows from this foundation and we can feel reassured we’ll once again be open to a new relationship.  We may even recognise that person as someone who had to find the courage to stand alone too.

We become respectful of our capacity to respond to whatever life throws at us, we learn to be responsible for our choices and our emotions.  The author Victor Frankl once recommended the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast of the United States be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast!

I feel grateful for my enforced solitude and thankful for the support I’ve received to raise a son, maintain precious friendships and provide a good home life. I would never have chosen this path, not in a million trillion years, believe me!  But aloneness has taught me true freedom lies with taking responsibility in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patricia A Bowmer
    Sep 04, 2014 @ 23:06:09

    Just this morning I was thinking I wish you’d write some about what MS has meant for you, and then I read your blog! You speak so well of the abundance we can find within when we grow comfortable with ourselves. Your path is so hard but you travel it with grace and wisdom. Thank you for sharing this.


  2. smalldogbiglife
    Sep 06, 2014 @ 06:54:24

    Thank you Patricia! xx


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