Sometimes in life, you plan on honeymooning & sipping kava in Fiji with your newly minted husband, but instead, you wind up moving into a new apartment and living alone for the first time at 29 years old.
… Just me? Welp, take my word for it… it’s jarring.
Being alone (being single, living solo, or both) is a challenge, and like most challenges, it makes you stronger. You have to get inside your own mind. You have to pick up the broken pieces and throw some out and add some new ones in and figure out how to put them all back together in a way that’s bigger and better than before.
I don’t want you to be afraid to be alone. I don’t want you to be afraid to start over. Actually, I think it’s imperative that you do it so you can discover how strong and resilient you are. Once you see that, your whole WORLD will open up to new possibilities because when you’re not afraid to start over, you’re brave enough to chase after what you really want in life.
I get hundreds of messages from you every day asking how I’ve adjusted “so well” to being single and living alone. I decided to write this blog post to give you a window into the journey that I’ve been through the past few months to get to where I am now. Thriving in my new sanctuary didn’t happen overnight! Let’s start from the beginning….
During my first few months of living alone, I vacillated between delirious highs and deep melancholy lows hourly until I’d settle in the worst territory of all: the abyss of total numbness.
August 2018 was a Bravo-level-dramatic month for me. It was my first month ever living alone after calling off my wedding, and I vacillated between delirious highs and deep melancholy lows hourly until I’d settle in the worst territory of all: the abyss of total numbness.
I was in a partnership for so long that when it severed I felt incomplete. I guess that’s one of the many paradoxes of me (and of many feminists, I presume): I’m fiercely independent yet I love being taken care of. Realizing how much I relied on my ex was a hard pill for this raging feminist to swallow. I had to learn how to do things on my own, like opening jars and configuring my tv. I got familiar with “spark plugs” and why you shouldn’t ignore your service engine light for four months. Btw if you don’t take the trash out it will just sit there; it doesn’t just magically disappear. I had no idea how immeshed we’d become. I hated it.
The most mundane of activities were nonstop reminders that I was now partnerless. I’d wake up (if I managed to fall asleep that night), turn over, and realize I was alone. I’d pick up my lone toothbrush and silently get ready, alone. I’d pour a sole cup of coffee and then, all alone, I’d try to remember what the hell I was supposed to do next.
Bedtime was excruciating. Once you’ve gotten used to falling asleep enveloped tightly and securely by the person you love, going to bed alone simply sucks. Some nights I’d lie there drenched in tears hoping to fall asleep before I drowned in them. Other nights I’d stare at the ceiling while my own thoughts ate me alive until the sun rose. You see, as painful as it was being alone in my own bed, it was even more painful being alone in my own head.
When my friends checked in I’d lie and say I was fine. If they offered to come over, I’d say I was busy… which wasn’t a total lie. I was busy trying to slow my heart rate, breathe, and not spiral off the deep end, all while running a new (very public) business, alone. Family, friends, and Internet strangers who felt like friends marveled at my fortitude, when in reality I laid fully fetal on my unfurnished living room floor for so long that when I finally emerged from my lightless dwelling my doorman asked me if I’d been away on vacation. I lied and said I had.
I spun a cocoon so I could rebuild myself in isolation
I hated myself for shutting people out, but I was in an adjustment period, and intuitively I knew the only way through it was to walk this walk alone. So, like a caterpillar, I spun a cocoon so I could rebuild myself in isolation. It was dark in that cocoon. Really dark. But despite all the pain, grief, and loneliness, I never once doubted my decision. I trusted myself, and I was determined to reemerge a butterfly.
There was nowhere to hide in my cocoon. I was tightly wrapped up with my sorrow, guilt, regret, shock, loneliness, and despair – and every one of these emotions DEMANDED to be felt. Pain would hit at the most unexpected and inconvenient times, like that time Wendy who does my nails asked, “Where’s your ring?” and I had to wipe away the tears with tinfoil on my fingernails. Wendy awkwardly pet my forearm in support, but I couldn’t even feel her touch through my cocoon. I couldn’t feel anything except for my own emotions.
I felt them hard. Day in and day out I felt my heart sink into my stomach and just chill there like undigested gum. I buried myself in my covers and sobbed uncontrollably until it turned into anger and I wanted to SCREAM, “LET ME LIVE! LET ME BREATHE!” I crumbled onto my shower floor in guilt for hurting someone I loved, and even more guilt for not saying something sooner. I faced enlightening realizations about what our relationship really was, and what it wasn’t. There were days I couldn’t even function and all my friends thought I’d lost my phone. I’d stare out to the universe in silence when I just felt totally, completely empty. Whenever I felt a *glimmer* of happiness, it was quickly overshadowed by self-doubt, “Shouldn’t I be sadder? What’s wrong with me? Am I heartless?” … and the merry-go-round of emotions continued, round and round and round.
I know you have to fully feel the pain before you can let it go, so I rode that ride of emotions so many times it became clockwork, predictable even. Eventually, it started to get a little boring. That’s when I started treating myself like my own best friend (I mean, I had to entertain myself.) I learned to process; I learned to reconcile; I learned to forgive, and finally, the ride didn’t control my life as it did before. The pain would come and my emotions would pass through, and I could hop off the ride for hours and even days at a time.
Alone in my cocoon, I developed a deep relationship with myself
Alone in my cocoon, I developed a deep relationship with myself. Without outside influence, I saw clearly what I really want and who I really am. I had beautiful moments of complete and utter honesty with myself. I discovered strengths that lay dormant deep inside of me. I was happy, and all my happiness came from inside of me, not from another person.
I couldn’t believe how resilient I was! I felt fucking indestructible… like if I got through this, I can get through ANYTHING. Yes, I was alone, but I wasn’t lonely. I’d grown and changed and there was enormous strength in my solitude. I’d never felt so whole. I’d never loved and valued and respected myself so much. Call it a metamorphosis; I was ready to emerge from my cocoon.
Solitude is an achievement. It has to be practiced and it has to be learned.
These days, nothing feels better than waking up alone in my king bed. I’m complete, I’m free, I’m empowered. I love my own company, and there’s truly no greater luxury than that.
It’s easy to be happy when we rely on others’ love, support, and care. It’s much more difficult to be happy purely based on the fullness of your own presence. That’s why loving solitude is an achievement. For most people, it has to be practiced and it has to be learned. You’ll be uncomfortable, sad, scared even. But only in solitude can we see our true, unadulterated selves. That’s why I recommend that EVERYONE get comfortable with being alone – either by being single, living alone, or traveling alone. It’s scary, I know. But everything you desire is on the other side of that fear.
Keep these things in mind on your journey of solitude:
- Some days are better, some days are worse. Some days you’ll look in the mirror and see a goddess, and some days you’ll see a hot mess. Try your best every day and whatever kind of day you have, when it’s over, be done with it. You did everything you could, so let it go and start fresh again tomorrow.
- Start each day with a positive mindset. As soon as you wake up, take a sec to be grateful that you are alive and healthy and live every moment of your day appreciating the blessing that it is. Just enjoy where you are right now. I also suggest repeating an empowering mantra to yourself.
- You’re gonna figure this shit out. Just think back to every other trying time in your life and how you survived that. You’ll survive this too (and what if you thrive?)
If you’re newly single:
- You might feel like you can’t even breathe on your own, and it sucks feeling so infantile and vulnerable. That’s WHY you’re doing this: so you become strong enough to breathe on your own. Being single is a luxury because you can focus 100% of your energy on yourself rather than your mate.
- It’s ok to miss them. It’s ok to remember and cry, or remember and smile, or remember and get angry. Be grateful for the time you had together. It’s ok to hate them and love them and it’s ok to somehow feel both at the same exact same time. It’s ok not to think about them at all; it’s ok to be ok. It’s ok to love again. It’s ok. It’s all ok.
- As time passes, you won’t forget. Instead, your memories will become clearer in retrospect. Your delusions will drift away one realization at a time until it’s painfully obvious why things didn’t work out. Cherish the good memories and forgive the bad. It will make you grow and be a better partner in the future.
- It’s normal to feel lost, so embrace the uncertainty! When nothing is certain, anything is possible.
- Transformation is painful but the pain is a gift; there’s tremendous growth in the pain. All the pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow because you got through today. You’re not falling apart, you’re falling into the new you.
- Don’t rush the process; enjoy it. Bask in the beauty of becoming a new you. Sit alone under the stars and allow yourself to wonder, dream, dare. Let life surprise you!
In the absence of others, you’re immersed in nothing but your own presence and choice. You’ll know when your journey of solitude has paid off when one day you wake up elated just to be in your own company. For me, I knew when that little voice inside my head said, “That’s it. That’s why I’m here.” My vision came into focus, my heart was content, and my passion was on fire. I knew without question who I needed to be. I knew where I needed to go next, without judging myself for the past because I was at peace with it. I had fallen in love with myself.
When you’re in love with yourself, living alone is easy. Actually… IT’S FUCKING AWESOME!!!!! Here are just a few of the things I love about living alone…
My top 10 favorite things about living alone:
- All I do is whatever the fuck I want. But naked.
- I have an entire king bed ALL TO MYSELF. The size is sooo unnecessary but that’s kinda why I love it. It feels indulgent. It’s just for me. (Funny how that same king bed that used to remind me of my loneliness now feels like a luxury!)
- All 3 closets are MINE ALL MINE. ‘Nough said.
- I only watch my fave shows (Bravo) and listen to my fave podcasts & music at max volume. Sometimes I just play the same song on repeat for hours (ok, a lot of times.)
- I get to decorate to suit my whims and let the creative juices flow (Black ceiling? Check!) My place is 100% ME and it makes me SO happy.
- I nurture myself. I create my own routines. I take baths. I meditate (I even created a yoga & meditation area in my apartment!) I buy myself flowers. I write every day. I have my own rhythm.
- I’m totally responsible for myself. I’m not dependent on anyone, I’ve learned new things, I’m self-sufficient, and I’m confident in my abilities.
- I choose who I spend my time with: nourishing and flourishing people. I make the effort to invest in creating and deepening friendships that matter. Then, I come home with a fresh appetite for being alone. (I used to be afraid of being alone. Now I’m afraid of being in the company of people who drain my energy. I’m v intentional about who I spend my time with.)
- I’m spontaneous. I embrace the unknown. I look inside; I explore; I truly wonder. I trust myself. I fly by the seat of my pants because I’m only responsible for myself. I don’t feel guilty for doing what’s best for me.
- I’m NEVER bored alone. I love being alone in my own little world with my own thoughts, defining my dreams.
Dope, right? I’m complete alone. (Paradoxically, we attract healthy relationships when we’re complete alone, because whole people attract whole people. But I’ll never be immeshed with anyone again – I’ll be always be whole, single or not.) Embracing the woman I’m becoming is what makes me happy.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my new life cost me my old one. I still think about my old life and mourn all that I lost to find the new me. Loss is painful, but saying goodbye to old versions of yourself opens you up to endless possibilities. I hate to admit it, but I limited myself in my last relationship. This next level of my life demands a different, brand new, version of me.
I know I’ll break again, but I’m not afraid of breaking anymore
I know I’ll break again, but I’m not afraid of it anymore. I’m not afraid of losing myself Alice-style in a wonderland of madness. I’m not afraid to give up the good in order to go for the great. Why? Because I know I’m strong enough to push through the fear of change and unlock magical possibilities. I know that if my life sets fire and I have to start over in a pile of ashes, I can build something even more beautiful; I’ve done it before. And I love that process of stretching myself to build something new.
When I think of the “me” from just a few months ago (a tear-drenched fully-fetal hermit), I beam with pride because I know how hard I fought to get where I am now. I want my future self to look back at who I am at this moment and feel the exact same way, because knowledge, growth, and experience are BOUNDLESS and I plan on evolving every day for the rest of my life. So, to my future self: I’m grinding, I got this, I got u.
I think most people are afraid of being alone because they’re afraid of what they’re capable of
I think most people are afraid of being alone because they’re afraid of who they really are and what they’re truly capable of. I think they’re afraid of the pain because they don’t know how strong they are. I think they’re afraid of the growth because it’s hard work and it’s unknown and it requires loss. I suggest you do the work. It’s not going to be pretty, but the payoff is priceless.
So, you have two choices: turn back to safety, or move forward into the unknown alone. What will you do, little caterpillar? Are you ready to become a butterfly?