You may have noticed that I have not written anything for some time. There are numerous reasons for this – firstly I have been on holidays and try to go offline as much as possible and secondly I don’t like writing unless I have something worthwhile to say. After a great deal of reflective journal writing and reading I have had the opportunity to analyse my thoughts, let out steam and find the confidence to find my voice and write again.
Over the holidays I spent time at the beach with my three children. As they are nearly all in their teenage years I found myself spending time alone. We still have fun at the beach together but as they grow older they need their own time. I am quite determined to allow them the freedom to live their own lives and not have to entertain me. I also believe that great parents lead by example. So even though it is fairly difficult at times it is my responsibility to be a positive role model.
On holidays, I love going to the beach, going for rides and being active and sometimes my children just want to relax after a busy school term. At this point feelings of loneliness and loss rear their head for me. I instinctively know I need to learn to say “I can go on my own” but I secretly really don’t want to be alone.
I think back to a time when my husband and I were so busy with three children under 3 ¼ and we dreamed of time alone together. We would imagine being able to go out for a meal on our own or go to the movies or really just have a second to ourselves. Now I experience large chunks of time by myself and it is one of my greatest challenges. I adored spending time with my husband and possibly relied on him as my best friend. Amazingly, I value independence and self-reliance yet strangely seem to struggle with it.
The Milky Chance song ‘Stolen Dance’ opens with:
“I want you by my side. So that I never feel alone again”
Which succinctly sums up how I often feel. A difficult part of loss and grief is learning to be on your own again when you desperately want your loved one by your side.
Likewise, the Taylor Swift song ‘Love Story’ has the line “Marry me Juliet you never have to be alone” and I guess I believed it. In fact I lived it, I married my own Romeo and yet somehow I now find myself learning to be alone for the very first time.
I try to challenge myself by stepping out of my comfort zone and going out to lunch and breakfast and even the movies on my own. This holiday as I sat in a café eating on my own it was hard not to feel a little sad. I have a policy that if I go out on my own I cannot use my phone as entertainment. So I sat and really enjoyed the food and tried to appreciate this stage in my life. I guess it comes back to being grateful for what you have not what could have been.
A great challenge of being a widow is embracing this alone time. I understand to some busy people it sounds wonderful but when there is no alternative it does not seem as enticing. I personally find it challenging to enjoy my solitude. Some could think the solution is to surround myself with people but even at these times I can feel just as alone. When I see an elderly couple together it tugs at my heart and I cannot help think about what could have been or what I thought my life would have been like. Even after four years I continue to crave the company of my fun-loving joyful husband.
I try to remember the line in the beautiful poem ‘The Invitation’ by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
“I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments”
I understand that it is in these moments of silence when we are alone with ourselves that we can really connect to our inner selves but unfortunately my fear of solitude does occasionally lurk its head.
Don’t get me wrong, over the holidays I have had fun with family and friends and have had lots of laughs. Embracing solitude is my greatest lesson but I am grateful for the opportunities to appreciate every experience life sends my way. The universe continually sends me little tests to make sure I am working on improving this area of my life. Sometimes I want to fall in a heap and other times I simply hop on my bike and go for a ride along the beachfront on my own and think how lucky I am.