Being Alone And Dealing

I’m weird, one of my best times for getting inspired to write is during housecleaning. I think it’s a procrastination thing. I wasn’t planning on posting, but I checked my comments and one made me think. Then I started doing the dishes, and snap, crackle, pop, a memory kicked in, and next thing you know, I sat on down and got crackin’.
It’s not until you’re single and you’re all right with it that you finally realize just how much of society is centered around fitting in and joining the club — getting married, getting laid, getting validated. Society pats us on the back when we find ‘someone’ and if we’re single, we’re told to look at ourselves and find what’s wrong with us, not what’s wrong with them.
Maybe, just maybe, we’re fine. Maybe, just maybe, they’re not good enough for us. Maybe, just maybe, we’re holding out for something better.
I’ve come to learn the hard way that being comfortable with being single is one of the biggest challenges we can face. It’s so easy to run into the arms of someone “who’ll do” instead of toughing it out alone. It’s so easy to stay the course of least resistance in a relationship that doesn’t deserve your commitment. Getting laid is a breeze, if you set your sights low enough.
We’re scared of being alone. I remember my mother breaking down in tears several months before her death, before she even got sick, when she accidentally got stinking drunk (the first time I’d ever seen her drink more than a glass or two of wine) on my birthday and was throwing up and was horribly hung over the next day. I took care of her, cleaned up after her, washed her vomit-stained comforter, and anything that needed doing. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I’m not scared anymore… I’ve been so scared that no one would look after me when I got old and sick, and now I know I don’t need to worry about that.”
I think we all ultimately know that fear. God knows I’ve been intimate with it.
We’re a tribal society, despite how uncivil we can sometimes be to each other. It’s our heritage, our legacy. We’re in it together… so being alone is something seemingly incongruous to human nature. But we need to know we’re able to handle it, and so few of us ever really try to learn if we can.
We sometimes fail to see how much society conditions us to need the approval of others – from report cards as kids, job reviews as adults, and every fucking time we use our debit cards, it’s all about getting approval. When you’re single and alone, who’s there to give it to you? Who’s there to tell you in the night that everything’s going to be all right?
You. Just you. Me. We’re self-contained, but everything about our society tells us we’re not. It’s a struggle. It’s hard. Never underestimate the difficulty of going it alone, but also, never ever underestimate the wonder of making it work. There is nothing more rewarding than that night when you realize there’s no one in the world that could make you feel better than you feel right then, right there.
Loneliness will always find you, though, but it will always leave you, too. It’s like a tide. It ebbs, it flows, and you just need to find the rhythm.

13 thoughts on “Being Alone And Dealing

  1. scribe called steff

    LOL! Therein lies the irony. 😉

    If ONLY, eh?

    Ahhh… fuck buddies, hear thy beckon & call.

  2. original boy

    damn it, i think im hooked, over a week of reading you everyday. gets me feeling and thinking, thanks

  3. Sarah Jayne

    Oh Steff… you’re always good at hitting a nerve when I least expect it. i know i’m still young and have much of my life ahead of me to live and learn, however even @ 25 I feel like my options are running out.

    It’s hard for me to be happily single – and learning to love myself has been an ongoing process, beginning when I was 20 and lost 50 pounds as well. Now until I can fill that “love thyself” void, I craze the band-aid relationship that will make me feel better.

    But it’s a vicious cycle isn’t it? You should love yourself before loving somebody else… but you go out looking anyways, and find people who you probably don’t connect with because you have so many “me” issues to deal with first, so they sense it, run away, and your back to square one of being single and feeling even crappier. And throughout this entire escapade you’re still trying to learn to love yourself – but scared to let go of these detrimental “band-aid” solutions… *sigh*

  4. Anonymous

    Steff……I know you’ve written about the topic….but…could you provide some tips on fuck buddies… in how to approach someone about the idea, and/or how do you even know it’s a safe topic for the other person?

  5. scribe called steff

    Original Boy — That’s flattering, thank you. There’s nothing a writer enjoys more than learning they provoke thought — let alone emotion.

    SJ — Ditto. Your options aren’t running out, silly girl. You’re so damned young. You need to hang with some older chicks and see that life rocks. I was hanging with my gal P last night on her 40th birthday and she’s so fucking hot, so fucking in demand, and finding herself happier and happier as life goes on.

    The MEMO y’all don’t get is that your 20s are actually a pretty shitty time. It’s when you work through all your crap and clue into who you are. You hit 30, and you have this sense of self and a sense of getting to a place you’ve been trying to find your whole life — and that’s not just my POV, but is a pretty common experience.

    When I was about 24/25, I thought I had to get it all together, but then life got HARD, and I realized the battle was just beginning. By 30 you figure out that the battle’s gonna keep going, but there’s cycles of good and bad, and that’s just the way it goes.

    As for the vicious cycle, yes, you must love yourself first and the reason why is that it’s with that self-knowledge and self-love that you finally realize what kind of person you need in your life. You realize the qualities you most value, and you would be surprised how much that changes with the levels of growth you experience. It’s a strange journey, but a fucking good one when it gets going.

    The reason I opted out of relationships was because I knew I’d just continue being hurt and I’d be spending my time trying to heal those hurts rather than trying to heal me. Does that make sense?

    Ironically, I had a whole passage about band-aids that I deleted from this posting, so it’s interesting you should use that phrase.

    Heh, heh. Fuck buddies. You know what? I don’t think I’ve really ever written about them very much. Just once, but nothing of any note. Fuck buddies are a difficult challenge, but getting one is easy. It comes down to a conversation, and you ask “how do you even know it’s a safe topic for the other person?” Well, if you’re thinking all you want is a fuck buddy, it doesn’t fucking matter if it’s a safe topic for the other person, because you might as well just admit to yourself now that they’re going to get hurt no matter what happens (if it’s an “unsafe” topic) so just pull the band-aid off and get to the point.

    All right, well, I’ll give that some thought and try to suggest a way to broach the topic.

    I’ve got a lot of topics on my plate right now, so I’m making no promises on a timeline — it depends when I’m inspired, I guess.

    I’ll say this — NO ONE SHOULD GET INVOLVED WITH ANYONE WITHOUT BEING CLEAR WHAT THEY’RE AFTER OR WHAT THEY WANT. If you DO NOT say “What are you looking for right now?” or “What kind of relationship are you seeking?” then you’re doing it wrong. People need to be fucking clear, and too often, they’re not. Every relationship should start with that conversation by date two. And it’s a great time to say you’re looking for a monogamous sexual relationship with a lot of latitute… ie, friends with benefits versus fuck buddies or what have you.

  6. Beth

    Steff, you’re like my Canadian alter ego.
    I’ve said loud and proud for a long time, “I’ll stay single before I’ll settle.”
    One of my friends accused me recently of being a snob when it comes to dating. The hell I am, I said. I have very high standards for myself, and expect the same level of intelligence, compassion, kindness, hell, humanity, from someone who wants us to share our lives. But if that makes me a snob, so be it.
    When my last relationship ended, I thought about suggesting that we continue to sleep together. The sex was good. But in the end, I figured it would be too hard. So I guess one of the rules of fuck-buddying should be that when it comes to exes, you have to proceed with caution. I suppose there are cases where it could work, there are exceptions to every rule, but the potential for weirdness seems high.
    As usual, though, a great post. Clean more often. When I attempt it, I end up getting a lot of other things done instead.

  7. scribe called steff

    well, i don’t think i’m single anymore, or at least not until after the next date, so that’s good. but yeah, for me it’s all about the smarts and conversation and being able to communicate well, and RESPECT and creative support. i’ve been out with nice guys who didn’t fucking get a) the writing or b) the creative struggles of trying to achieve your goals. that’s huge for me, and has long been a deal-breaker, but isn’t a worry in this scenario.

    fuck-buddying can be really emotionally trying. it was fuck-buddying that turned what should’ve been a 6-month relationship into a 7-year one for me, and is why i’m hesitant to go that route now.

    plus, there’s the complication of deciding how often to fuck your fuck-buddy. i signed on with a guy once and i said explicitly, “i like sex. in fact, i like a lot of sex. like, three times a week, if not more, kind of sex.” next thing you know, it was 2-3 weeks in between and i was a little choked. that’s another thing, if you can’t be a priority, then what’s the point, right? i don’t need a guy to sign his life over to me, and don’t even WANT that, but i sure as hell want to know he wants me on a regular basis — and i’d like proof, even. i’m clearly a selfish bitch, but call me crazy — i thought that was kinda an all right expectation.

    heh. i clean often enough, i just usually clean too close to visitors arriving to be able to write in between. 🙂

  8. Mike

    “I’m weird, one of my best times for getting inspired to write is during housecleaning. I think it’s a procrastination thing.”

    We all need some kind of meditative activities to help us loosen up from the analytic part of our minds.

    I like your words.

  9. scribe called steff

    Thanks. 🙂 Yeah, I have many activities I use to kickstart my brain with writing. Cycling and photography are up there with cleaning. Wandering the forest, those sorts of things. It’s all good.

  10. Mind Maelstrom

    Alright, I just had to leave a comment about this one. I was very insecure when I was younger, and always thought I was fat when I was in fact grossly underweight. Instead of dealing with my issues, I ended up in a relationship because I thought it was a way of validating myself or something.
    Being in a relationship when you don’t like yourself doesn’t make you like yourself more. When I realized that I decided to break up with whoever the hell I was dating, and be with myself for a change. That has to have been the smartest decision I’ve ever made because BEING SINGLE IS GREAT once you come to terms with your own self.
    Although I have now been in a very hmmm… complementing? relationship for a couple of years, last summer we ended up being apart for a couple of months and, true to myself, I ended up having an awesome time.
    I have friends who feel like there is something wrong with them for being single and I hate society for imposing stupid standards on them. In all honesty, however happy I may be in a relationship, sometimes I really envy them and wish I were single at least for a while. It’s unfortunate how people’s perception of what’s right and wrong is so skewed, isn’t it now?

    Enough ramble,
    you faithful non-comment-leaving reader.

  11. Linda

    Thank you for that article! I am 40, still single, as in never-been-married, and while I crave sex and love as much as anybody, I am dealing with the ups as well as downs of being single. But I’m not dead! I have my sexuality, my life, my friends & family, my creativity, and a wonderful world to live in. I still enjoy the thought of making love, if and when I find the right people to do that with!

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