Sunday, June 09, 2013

On Being Alone




I had an unhealthy section of my day yesterday diverted by my aloneness. My solitaryism. It does strike me now and again how very alone I truly am. Don't get me wrong. 95% of the time I truly enjoy it. But the odd time it hits me in a wave of what, fear? fear of insanity? remorse over relationships gone south? Misplaced old friends who knew me well and can comfort like no one else can? This has nothing and everything to do with coupledoms. Many I see and hear out there do not raise a single thread of envy in me. Most of them are puerile. Many are all about negotiating, I'll do this then you'll do that. The odd one throws itself up as supportive, nurturing and comforting.

This was all started (I'm sooo overanalytical by nature) by an invitation to a lobster dinner and dance last night. I've gone to my fair share of these. And I truly don't play well with others in such an atmosphere. For one, I am surrounded by coupledoms. Those tiny fiefdoms of, well, smugness. Individually, these people are wonderful. Throw them into a party atmosphere and exclusionary fences are built. It's a challenge to sit by oneself while the rest of the room cavorts on the dance floor to the band on stage. Solo, abandoned, one can check one's nails, root in the change purse, play with a scarf or sulk in the bathroom for an unseemly length of time and lie about stomach trouble when a search party is sent (Oh goody, my absence was noted.)

Then again, one can march to and fro from the bar for more ice in one's water. How much ice can one possibly crunch in a crunch so to speak? Lots. And how is it when one is on the dance floor life passes in a hurricane but by oneself, sitting it all out, life has the consistency of molasses?

And then, the great escape. Slinking out when no one is watching as they're all on the dance floor. Saying goodbye makes a scene, a horrible one. Where one is forced to lie about aforesaid healthy stomach, or a cold coming on, or exhaustion. And the phone calls after the skulk the following day are a little heart wrenching: The what happened? The we're not good enough for you? The we were all worried about you! The why didn't you say goodbye?

Hoisted by coupledom petards. The only win is not to go.

And I didn't.

And today is fresh and beautiful even though grey and mauzy. But that lonely feeling is behind me now.



36 comments:

  1. Oh, ye kindred spirit – thine melody echoes in my harmonics!

    Our shared fondness for solitude resonates strongly. People often have difficulty understanding that I really do prefer my own company – not because I dislike people but because I dislike social situations in which I have to interact endlessly with people. Events such as you describe are the classic scenarios for me (apart from the fact that I don’t dance and don’t like lobster!)

    I’ve scaled my travelling back to one family visit a year now with a single relative who is about the only living family with whom I maintain contact. Three or four days is more than enough. I extended it to seven days this year and was chomping at the bit to be gone by about day five. Not that I dislike this person – just that I’ve had enough after four days. I can easily understand your reluctance to attend the event you described. Too much.

    Take care of yourself. VP

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  2. One of my favourite parts of going to dances in Kedgwick, New Brunswick in the late 1970s was that you didn't need a partner to get up and dance. You just got up and joined in! Wish we did that so easily out here in Saskatchewan. It was the best. Spose a waltz or polka might be tougher to do it to, though ...

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  3. In talking to another solo this a.m. Veep, we were saying how terribly difficult it is for others to understand us. Not that we want understanding but the pleas against our choice to be alone is difficult to bear at times.

    I am best when one on one with someone that is empathetic to my choices.

    I am truly content when on my own with occasional outbursts of "bon vivants."

    Any time I'm out I love to come home to the embrace of my solitude.

    XO
    WWW
    PS I did send you an email a while ago - did you receive?

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  4. Yes, SJG, I love dances that are conducive to group action. But they are pretty rare and as you say when waltzes and polkas get in the way of group effort, lol.

    XO
    WWW

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  5. Nothing is more lonely than being alone in a crowd, or a bad relationship. Solitude is always better.

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  6. It's more difficult when you are in an age group and cultural circumstance that dictates that couples stick together and do not separate into more natural groups drawn together because of common interest and affinity. Of course, when it's a dance, the older women tend to hold on to their partner and sure as hell not want to share him with some other single woman for fear of losing him to her. God forbid! They are not quite that liberal of thought yet or ever will be. It shows you how small minded we can be and how docile the men.

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  7. Oh
    how I understand
    I danced a lifetime
    hear music
    and dance alone in this cottage
    I truly miss dancing with others.
    But it was fun while it lasted.
    Since I believe in miracles
    may it will still happen for us :)
    The lobster
    I envy you...

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  8. Wow, I don't understand couples who behave like that towards left-out singles. Personally I always talk to singles, I don't in any way ostracise them because they're not in a duo. I can remember only too well my many years of singledom when I was always dying for other people to talk to me and befriend me. Surely other people have had those times as well? I don't understand their selfishness and rudeness.

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  9. Oh...I do so love stopping in here. Although I am not alone now, I know one day I shall be...and I feel exactly the same way. I'm an introvert by nature...and do not mind my own company...all though when forced to interact I am able to do so but I always love it when I come back to my little nest.

    xox

    Jo

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  10. Marc:

    I've experienced all 3. And I so agree with you!

    XO
    WWW

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  11. Irene:
    I've experienced things a little differently sometimes where the woman will push the partner over to me. I call it a 'mercy dance'. Which is the very worst.

    Yes, like you I wonder about the clinginess just because of the wedding ring and not of common interests.

    XO
    WWW

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  12. OWJ:
    Another kindred spirit. Yes, I too dance alone. And love it.
    XO
    WWW

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  13. Nick:
    I think most are oblivious to it. I never think it deliberate at all. Just everyone in their own bubble.
    I, like you, am very aware of people by themselves and go out of my way to include them or sit next to them.
    XO
    WWW

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  14. Jo:

    Ah a gregarious loner like myself! I am introspective by nature but do enjoy one on ones. Never one for big parties and hardy-har-hars and I find small talk absolute agony.

    XO
    WWW

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  15. When I lived as a single woman in the city I gadded about on my own everywhere, and other people did pretty much the same thing, even the married ones. I had lots of married friends, not couples, just individual people.
    Then I moved to a smaller city and thought I would die of loneliness!! There were no individuals, people didn't relate one-on-one, it was all couples. I had trouble finding a male or female friend who would go out for a coffee with me, without their spouse.
    It was a very sad social scene, to say the least.
    I have maintained my former friendships with individuals, which I still enjoy very much, male and female.

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  16. Although I'd be hard-pressed to pass up a chance to have lobster, I do NOT go to couple's events. Blegh.

    But you know, I think about couples on FB who are all smarmily couply and I am deeply skeptical. As I am deeply skeptical of bloggers who are effusively lovey-dovey about their mates. Come on. Even when I'm in a really good relationship, I don't try to pretend its perfect. And I have knowledge of the failings of some couples who still present a sickly sweet united front of the world. Maybe it's the only way they can stand it.

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  17. I feel for ya kid! It is awful.I do NOT go! Last fall a woman friend and I went to the fall fair to hear the fiddlers. Oh dear! - the looks from all the smug couples in their folding chairs. No red ribbons for us! I think we should have "Women only" Saturday night sock dances at each others homes.
    take care Wise,
    Betty

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  18. I also prefer the company of a few good friends to big social gatherings where everyone is hail-fellow-well-met with everyone, even if secretly they'd like to stab each other in the back! As for couples gatherings, I don't go. Don't get invited actually, since the OC is seldom here and I might be perceived as a threat! Not divorced, not widowed, still I'm getting lots of practice at living alone. Mostly I like it, am comfortable with myself, but sometimes it gets lonely.....

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  19. WWW, I don't recognize your heart felt observation in my own life.

    There are two sides to my coin: I need solitude - like you. On the other hand I am probably one of the most gregarious people you are ever likely to meet. To mix (and be mixed) comes as natural to me as breathing. And, a much as I liked father of son in many ways, the day we parted was a massive relief for me. Suddenly I could be again what I am. Foot loose and fancy free. No more criticism as to who I talk to, what I say. It's bliss. I walk into a room full of people unencumbered. As free as a bird. I am an attractive woman and a flirt if ever there was one, yet, and how I manage it I can't say - must be a gift, no woman ever ever feels "threatened" by me. They feel 'safe' with me, they entrust me with their husbands/partners. I know it sounds idiotic but there it is. And it's true: They ARE safe with me. As oldest friend (male) once said to me: "You send a strong vibe: Look BUT don't touch." It's not just that. I have few principles carved into my life but one of them, firmly held and always adhered to, that I don't steal another woman's man. Ever. And somehow that translates to everyone. Making social encounters so very easy.

    I like you, WWW, instinctively, and if we lived round the corner from each other, I'd link arms with you and drag you into any peopled room. No solitary trips to the bar asking for more ice. Believe me: We'd have a ball. Ignoring all no-hopers. Plenty of great people left.

    U

    PS As usual I have to hand it to myself: I was trying to cheer you up. However, sometimes wonder whether my radar on that front misses the odd trick or two. But then: What are puddles for if not to walk straight into them?

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  20. Hi WWW

    You read my mind - again. I think this kind of insecurity that couples can project comes in clusters. Unfortunately, you're in one. Happens in small, isolated communities, I think. I wasn't conscious of it when I lived in inner London where 50% of adults are single at any given time but am acutely aware now that I live in an Australian country town.

    Middle-aged couples walk around with their hands glued together and the woman will engage me with a
    don't-you-dare death stare. I find it always oppressive and often offensive. It would have been the last thing on my mind to make a play for her man.

    Like you, I love being by myself, working quietly away on projects and not thinking about whatever it is I could be missing out on. I simply can't imagine that it would be more interesting than what I've decided to spend my day doing. What I do resent is the presumption to judgement that can come across so palpably that it's unmistakable. I don't judge people in toxic relationships and am not jealous of those who have healthy ones. One is tempted to conclude that a couple behaving defensively might not be thoroughly content.

    I'm the kind of person who gets adopted by couples. I've travelled alone a good deal in the last twenty or so years and have been gathered up by couples of like mind, mostly in countries where I might have been perceived to be at some risk gadding about by myself (Egypt, India, Israel). Two couples I've met in this way became lifelong friends. I've found that the couples most likely to welcome single women into their fold are the ones who, individually, have rich inner lives.

    xxx

    Pants

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  21. I was a loner as a child, preferring my rich imaginative world to what others called the "real" world. Now I've been a single for so long I've almost forgotten what it feels like to be part of a couple. And, thinking seriously about it, I don't want to be part of a couple again. So, like you, I avoid social situations where I'm forced to sit alone while couples flaunt their togetherness. I hardly ever get lonely or bored, so much so that when either situation occurs, I'm surprised and flummoxed by it. We must have been separated at birth ;)

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  22. by the variety of comments and the length of some of them WWW I would say that you struck a raw nerve.

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  23. Maggie:

    Yes small communities tend to disregard singles in a social scene in quite a callous way when tables of unmatched could be easily strung together.

    I have many friend who are coupled who behave quite differently in other scenes (dinner parties, outings) but don't seem to carry that behaviour into dinner dances.

    XO
    WWW

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  24. SAW:

    Oh LOL. and I have particular difficulty with the couples who sign up to FB as one - BettyBen, RogerRosie, et al. One couple one mind.

    Mein gott a nightmare of coupledom. "We like steak."

    I actually shiver.

    XO
    WWW

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  25. Molly:
    I would be thrilled to be perceived as a sexual predator of other women's male pickings.

    I've never betrayed a woman friend, though I was betrayed quite a few times myself which I've written about.

    I do get invited as I clean up rather well it is then I am abandoned, alone and unwanted at a huge table.

    I'd rather pull my fingernails out one by one.

    XO
    WWW

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  26. Betty:
    What an absolutely brilliant idea!! Even better rent a hall and cook our own bloody lobster and invite the children too to show us how to dance as if no one is watching....
    XO
    WWW

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  27. Ursula:

    I am a gregarious loner by nature and do fit in well at social gatherings apart from these horrific dinner dances where I sit contemplating a huge table all by myself with everyone else on the floor.

    Singles are correct in avoiding such torture chambers. Now and again I do get a mercy dance but it's the time in between that hangs heavy on the hands (and other sundry body parts) and I find myself yearning for the good book I left at home.

    Yes, we would have a good time together at such events. Unfortunately there are no other singles of my inclinations or interests around. For many are coupled with BTNs (better-than-nothings).

    XO
    WWW

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  28. Pants:

    It wasn't so blatant in Toronto either. I would entertain couples, they would entertain me. I have many "husband" friends for years and years. Meeting them at work, etc. and making sure I met the spouse to assure her I wasn't up to no good with 'her man'. Those friendships continue to this day.

    Having reflected a little more, I do believe that the narrower horizons out here are part of the problem. And perhaps too much of an education on Hollywood soap operas where the man can be snatched very easily by that ol' Scarlett. Especially by one who comes from away and has all those sexual tricks at her disposal. (I only wish).

    I am viewed as a bit of an oddball and do find I bond a little easier with men (who have worked and lived outside the province for a while) than I do with their wives who may be a little uneasy with my 'smarts'.

    XO
    WWW

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  29. Pauline:

    I think we were separated at birth. You nailed my feelings exactly. Surprised. And chagrined too to think of myself wasting an evening alone after I've eaten and trying to look, oh gawd kill me now, as if I'm enjoying myself. Alone with an aching smile, crunching ice. On top of that if I look the way I feel people are quick to take offence. As if I'm too good for them all. Seriously.

    Note to self: avoid these occasions of blithering and obliterating merriment.

    XO
    WWW

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  30. GFB:

    I sure did, and I know in real life I could befriend you and your wife wouldn't mind one bit.

    XO
    WWW

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  31. Ramana of the shortest comment in history:

    I knew you would.

    XO
    WWW

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  32. I'm sure that a person like yourself does not feel this way very often.
    In my social world, such as it is, there are couples and singles. Some singles are men and others are women. Also there are couples that don't live together.
    But romance is not very important in the lives of any of us, and smoochy couples don't interest us or arouse any envy.
    We totally avoid events based on the idea of couples.

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  33. Hattie:

    Your island beats my island then. I think a more sophisticated atmosphere perhaps helps. Here it is Catholic for so long and death-do-us-parting is the norm for even outrageously awful marriages and praised (oh she's such a good woman)in extremis of he happens to be a falling down drunk who spends the grocery money at the pub. Reminiscent of Ireland back in the fifties.

    I think the pall of failure still clings to those who can't manage to stitch any fellow upright for such events as a dinner dance.
    Single men, of course, are swarmed and cossetted.

    I am island-envious.

    XO
    WWW

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  34. This story is true in the lesbian community, too. I don't go to dances, but sometimes I'll hear a coupled friend say, "We had Lucy and Ethel over for dinner." (Names changed for privacy) They say this to me as if I understand that they don't invite me because I'm not a "Verna-and." I can assure them that when I was a "Verna-and," I was much less interesting than I am now. And about those FB couples: I once heard a lesbian couple say, "We just went in for our pap smears." Gag me with a spoon . . .
    Thanks for saying so well what I often feel. And good for you for staying home.

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  35. Verna:

    It becomes easier to stay home after trying so hard to fit in and attending these couple-fests. Apart from anything else it is impossible to talk over the sound of the band so dancing or ice getting or bathroom hiding is the only option. LOL.

    Yes, some of my gay friends mention it is equally uneven when coupled. As if your status is not as important.

    XO
    WWW

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