Alone Again. Naturally.   Leave a comment

I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone. – Robin Williams

Despite the title – points (and apologies) if you’ve got the song looping through your head right about now – this is not going to be another one of my an ‘oh, poor pitiful me’ post. I swear. Really.

Like everyone, I have lists of things I am afraid of ranging from the usual creepy crawlies (bats, spiders, snakes, etc.), to small spaces (yes, I am claustrophobic), drowning (interesting for someone who spends as much time in the water as I do), and strobe lights (don’t ask). There are more – of course, there are more! – but this is intended to be a random sampling.

The biggie on the list, however, is being alone. Not, like alone in the house during a storm alone. I live for big, house-shaking thunderstorms.  They are fantastic.  Just not when I’m trying to sleep. Or alone in a giant mall shopping for things with which to stock a nursery – which was frightening, but in a completely oh-my-G-d-I-have-no-idea-what-I-need-and-am-going-to-be-a-horrendous-mommy kind of way. And kind of triggered the claustrophobic parts of my brain. A bit. Okay, more than a bit. I went home in a panic. Crying. (Flash forward fifteen years; I am a kick-ass mommy. Despite my inability to shop for baby stuff. So there.)

No, I mean alone in a crazy cat lady kind of way. Being old and by myself with no one else for company. Cats may be lovely and mine are, thank you very much – but great conversationalists they are not. Surprisingly enough, and this may come as a shock to my regular readers, this fear actually predates my divorce.

Growing up, my sister and I spent almost every afternoon with our maternal grandmother. She would pick us up at our house after we got off the bus from elementary school and bring us to her apartment to hang out until my mother got out of work and picked us up.

I adored my grandmother. She was sharp as a tack, funny, and fed us all kinds of food my mother the dietitian wouldn’t keep in the house as she – my grandmother – hated to cook. Sugary cereals, hot dogs and spaghetti from a can when she fed us dinner, and those individually-wrapped pie-like pastries they sell in grocery stores. (Or at least they used to. I don’t know if they do now as eating them defeats my goal of continuing to fit in my clothes. And I can get better full-sized ones at the bakery…)

She was also lonely. And bitter. She complained – not constantly but often enough that I remember it – about not changing her surname back to her maiden name when she and my grandfather split up. I don’t know if they ever actually got divorced, but my grandfather died when my mother was seventeen, and Grammy always thought she should have gone to court and legally gone back to being an Albert rather than a Feifer. She thought it was a much nicer name.

As she aged, she retreated more and more into herself, becoming a shell of the woman I so loved and admired, and it both saddened and frightened me. We had a running gag about her neighbors calling the police to complain about her rabble-rousing at the senior housing complex she moved into when I was in middle school. For years, when I phoned her I would pretend to be surprised she was there answering the phone rather than being in jail, and she played along, telling me she was going to name me as an accomplice when she finally got caught and send the cops to pick me up as well. But these joking conversations grew shorter and shorter. As did any other conversations. She gradually withdrew into herself to the point that she almost whispered when she spoke and spent a lot of time crying.

Maybe frightened isn’t strong enough a word. In all honesty, it scared the shit out of me.

At my wedding – which she almost didn’t attend; my Aunt Esther (her older sister) had to bully her out of her apartment and into the car. “Lilyan,” Esther yelled at the closed apartment door, “I came up here from New Jersey for your granddaughter’s wedding. If I’m going to this wedding, you’re going to this wedding.  Open this door now!” If a door could open grudgingly, this one did – my vows went something along the lines of the traditional things said with the addition of “and we don’t have to be apart anymore.”

I couldn’t have known I was wrong. After all, I never claimed to be psychic. (Well, maybe once or twice. To my kid. I’m pretty sure he’s realized I’m not at this point.)

So, here’s where the interesting part comes in. Now that I’m actually alone, I’m finding it almost peaceful. Almost. I’m still a bit freaked about ending up alone, but I’m also kind of enjoying the serenity of it. Things are neater than they were, which is important to me as too much clutter makes me go a little crazy, but there are other benefits as well.

If something needs to be done, I don’t have to negotiate the task’s completion. Or nag. Or get angry when it is left undone and I have to do it anyway. And it’s kind of nice not having to walk on eggshells in my own house, being careful not to bring up things that really do need to be talked about as I’m unsure what the reaction will be when they are mentioned.

Sometimes – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – I even look forward to the weekends my son is with his father, and I get two whole days of time to myself where no one is relying on me to do something, go somewhere, or deal with any issues.

It’s a little freaky in a whole different kind of way.

I think I’ve finally made the transition from lonely to alone, and for the most part, it’s really not that bad.  Which is more than a little weird, and honestly, I’m not sure what to do with it. For me, this really is a strange, new world. That said, I’m proud of myself as well. This is somewhere I never thought I would need to be, and despite a whole lot of a few bumps here and there, I am managing.

Does it mean I’m giving up my search of finding that special someone? Hell, no. I’m not looking as hard as I could be, but I’m still looking. I’m just starting to think the world won’t end if I don’t find that person. Emphasis on starting, but I’ll take it.

Now, though, I think I’m going to go find the cat that likes being picked up and give him a good cuddle. It never hurts to practice your crazy cat lady skills, right?

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Posted March 9, 2016 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

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