Guest blog post by Nigel D. Sign up for more from the Living Well Alone Project.
As for many people, living alone was the inevitable next step after the break down of my marriage,
It was the first time I had been on my own in eleven years. I’d lived alone before, but the storm of emotions, complete change of routine, and general sense of discombobulation – not knowing which way was up – meant it still came as a complete shock.
Loneliness was the first thing that entered my heart and my mind, along with rejection and a strong sense that I’d failed. It didn’t make a difference that the ending had, in the end, been mutual.
There was no quick resolution.
Time at first seemed never-ending and I suddenly had a lot of it available to me. I made absolutely no productive use of it at first, of course, and moping and feeling sorry for myself was my default.
As the initial shock passed, I started to realise what a precious gift this new-found time was.
I started reading again. Voraciously. Psychology, spirituality and self-development, with the odd trashy novel thrown in for light relief. I hadn’t read this much for years.
I started writing. Initially a daily journal, then essays on all sorts of topics, mainly born from the knowledge I was gaining through my reading. The two went hand in hand beautifully.
The daily journaling helped my healing process. Getting my thoughts onto paper, talking about what had been going in my day and how I felt. Emotions don’t like being kept in a box and writing about them was – for me – a release and a revelation.
Over time, my experience shifted from one of loneliness, to that of solitude.
This was so important – solitude is precious, restorative and food for the soul, whereas loneliness is a form of purgatory.
I took up meditation. It had been something I had wanted to do for years, but I’d always told myself that I didn’t have the time, and that it was too difficult. I was held back by my limiting beliefs, and my noisy and sometimes deafening ‘monkey mind.’
I definitely couldn’t use the first excuse any more. As for it being hard? The only hard thing was the commitment to doing it daily, and making sure I wasn’t listening to the self-sabotaging part of my mind that was trying to make excuses for me not to.
Meditation became one of the best things that I could have done for myself. Mindfulness is beneficial for us in so many ways. Reduced blood pressure, stress, anxiety, better self-awareness, improved attention span and better emotional health. Why wouldn’t I want that for myself? I knew I needed to do the work and over time, I started to believe that I was worth the investment.
Ultimately, solitude let me get back in touch with who I was, and living alone became a new beginning. Time was my gift, and I learnt to harness it in a productive way. The work I was putting in ceased to be work – it had become a way of life, and I was relishing the benefits.
As the famous prophet Rumi said, “The wound is where the light enters you”. I had found my light.
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