I have lived almost 50years on this earth and in all my years of living, I can truthfully say that I have never lived alone like I have in the past few weeks. From primary school all through NYSC, I had roommates. First my siblings, classmates and friends and since I married right after NYSC, my husband.
When Mr Aisi died, I had the company of my mother who, having stayed with me for over a year, has now gone on and rightly so with her own life.
So, for the first time ever, I have a whole apartment to myself and I am loving it. A lot of people knowing that I now live alone (I have neighbors though) have expressed concern, wondering how I am coping and I must say that I am rather pleasantly surprised at myself.
You see, I am an extrovert. I was that person that visited friends during vacations in secondary school. I could go to 4 different events in one day. I have been known to change attires at one event as I leave to attend another. I rarely miss parties and it is a well known fact amongst my circle of friends that l can stay at a party until the celebrants start to leave.
Being alone has gotten a bad rap from everyone because most people read being alone as being lonely. In a recent study at the University of Virginia several participants–a quarter of the women and two-thirds of the men–chose to subject themselves to electric shock rather than be alone with their thoughts. There is a vast difference between being alone and being lonely and though one can be alone without feeling lonely, one cannot be lonely without feeling alone. Being alone is often a voluntary choice, a desire to move away from social interactions whilst loneliness is a feeling of being isolated from people. It is a well known fact that one can be in the midst of people, be in a relationship and still be lonely.
I have sought to discover why my being alone has not affected me as deeply as I thought it would and I have discovered several reasons. The first being that I have come to enjoy my own company. I have come to an acceptance of myself and can live with myself. I can carry out conversations with myself – no subject is forbidden, laugh at myself, marvel at my thoughts ( I have a lot of weird and wacky thoughts ), chide myself and generally be me. I don’t have an audience for whom I must perform.
Secondly, I needed a break from being wife and mother. I don’t know about you but as a mother I was very hands on, dropped my children to and fro school, served on the PTA board at my children’s schools ( they hated it cos they couldn’t afford to be naughty ) and as a wife, I committed the last 4 years before he died to ensuring that Mr Aisi lived a comfortable life.
I need the solitude being alone offered as l need to concentrate on me, myself and I.
I must say that I have enjoyed the independence that comes from not having to be responsible for the daily care of my loved ones.
So, being alone has helped me to look at myself, ask myself the questions I have always shied away from on the pretext that I didn’t have the time. It has helped me accept those parts of myself that I have struggled with, I have had self talks and it has helped me understand myself better. It has helped me accept my vulnerabilities and shown me that in lots of ways I am just like the other person especially the ones that I have judged unfairly.
It has helped me come to terms with my sexuality and to evaluate my need and desire for companionship.
Being alone during this pandemic has brought to the fore the realization that most of the things I do are for others not so much because I care about what they think of me but because of how I want them to see and esteem me. It has helped me to distinguish better the difference between being religious, service to God and having a relationship with God. It has helped me appreciate the little things in life that make it worthwhile- the voice of a friend or loved one, the sunset, pure air, good health, a good book, music.
It has helped me see that it’s not what happens to me that matters but how I react to my situation. It has confirmed the superiority of God and that safety and protection is of Him alone.
I now accept that I don’t need much to be happy and that I have more than I need to be happy in terms of clothing, utensils and gadgets.
To be most productive, our times of being alone should not leave us looking for things to distract us from ourselves, we should take it as a time to cultivate ourselves, to tap from our inner reservoirs, to add to ourselves, to become the persons we truly are and discover our hidden powers and talents.
The truth is someday, sooner or later for a period of time we may find ourselves alone, without our spouse, children and/or friends. Will we be able to enjoy our lives or will we be bereft of purpose and meaning. I leave you with an excerpt from “A Daughter’s a Daughter” a book written by Agatha Christie under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott which is a conversation between two friends
“Have you ever felt really alone Laura? Ann asked with curiosity. Oh Yes. It came to me when I was twenty-six actually in the middle of a family gathering of the most affectionate nature. It startled me and frightened me – but I accepted it. Never deny the truth. One must accept the fact that we have only one companion in this world, a companion who accompanies us from the cradle to the grave- our own self. Get on good terms with that companion- learn to live with yourself”.