"There are days when solitude is a heady wine
that intoxicates you with freedom,
others when it is a bitter tonic,
and still others when it is a poison that makes
you beat your head against the wall."
I have not always been a loner. In fact, another quote describes quite well my emotional evolution into solitude. From Albert Einstein: "I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity."
In my youth, particularly adolescence, I feared nothing more than to be alone. While my sisters slammed their doors and sulked with typical teen angst, I chose to remain in the most populous rooms. Oh, there was angst aplenty, no doubt; in fact I was
probably angsty enough for the two of them combined, and then some. (Credit that strike-through above to my typing fingers becoming possessed by one or both of my sisters. Or parents. Or our childhood dog.) I. Hated. To. Be. Alone.
It wasn't until post-college graduation, upon moving into my first solo apartment after a multitude of roommates (known and unknown; sibling and stranger), that I developed a passion for privacy that was as unexpected as it was unquenchable. But it was glorious. Everything was mine. Mine to do with what I wanted, how I wanted, when I wanted. Silly as it may sound, the first night I realized I could go to bed without doing the dishes, picking up the magazines or straightening throw pillows was a major turning point. I'm not kidding; we are talking a fucking life event.
At least five years passed before I ever contemplated sharing space with anyone. In fact, I was in an intimate relationship with someone for the better part of a year. He never once stepped foot in my home. Part of the reason was a devastating end to my all-through-college romance. I trusted no one. Part of the reason, especially at this point, no one had proven themselves worthy enough to share my space.
Until Jamie. It took less than a month for me to give him a key. My hands were shaking and he asked if I was certain I wanted him to have it. I replied that they were shaking because I'd never been more certain. By summer of that same year, we were planning a wedding and I was giving up my lease so we only had one rent to pay. And we were nervous as hell.
Both of us treasured our solo havens. Sleepovers, weekends, vacations together -- none can prepare you for this-is-it-we're-both-stuck-here-even-if-we-run-away-eventually-we-have-to-come-back-here. To you.
I hope none of you reading are looking for tips on how we made it work. I don't know how we made it work. But it did. It wasn't perfect. It wasn't always easy. It was sometimes ugly. But it worked. And it worked very, very well.
So well that my first voiced fear (The biggest ones went unsaid. They were obvious and unsolvable and not worth wasting the precious days and hours we had left.) when I knew for certain his death was imminent was, to my sisters, "Who am I going to talk to? Oh my God. Who am I going to talk to?"
They responded, as they held me, "Us. You'll always have us." I cried out,"No-o-o... who am I going to talk to about you?"
And that's the worst thing. The absolute worst. The one person on the planet who knew me better than anyone else, who knew just what every little look, tone of voice or lack of it meant, is gone.
And I have never felt more alone. It's unyielding. I have so many people who love me. I do. And I know well how very blessed I am to have them. But even in the most comforting, safe, loving moments -- I have never felt more alone.
It's been almost 18 months since Mr J died. There is no more coming-back-to-you.
I praise God for whatever strength with which he infused me that prepared me to be on my own. I also praise God for the beautiful gift of the 10+ years he gave me when I wasn't.
I praise God for my darling Jamie no longer being in pain, and I praise him for the strength, the love, the support and the many people with which he's blessed me thus far.
But I also raise my cracked voice, my wet eyes and my pained heart to the Lord and ask for more.
For more strength when I feel I can't go on.
For the strength to speak up during the times I'm not okay with being alone and I'm too proud to admit it.
For the strength to understand why the people who have silently left my life have done so.
And for the strength to forgive those whom I never thought would leave, but have.
But mostly, to keep the strength of solitude with which He's blessed me more freeing than bitter, more comfortable than tormented, and more understanding than anguished.
And yet ...
"Loneliness adds beauty to life.
It puts a special burn on sunsets
and makes night air smell better."
... is still true, too.