I am quite happy at this point in my life and I am 99% comfortable with living solo and spending time by myself. For 15+ years, I was in a relationship that consumed almost every facet of my life. Without intending to do so, I now realize that I had allowed that relationship to distance me from family and friends. Once it ended, I really didn’t know what to do with myself or how to reconnect with those that I had unintentionally abandoned. However, it feels like I’ve been working four years on completing a 1000-piece puzzle (remember those?) and I have a few pieces with which I am struggling to find the right place. It seems that no matter hard I try to fit in and make friends, I am still mostly a loner. I often travel, dine, and attend events solo. Sometimes I connect with people I consider to be friends or would befriend if we were strangers before, but I still don’t have the companionship or the level of friendship that I had with him. I do know now that I would never, ever allow any relationship to have that much control over me, but I definitely miss having a best friend with whom I can talk about anything. I carry many thoughts and emotions inside of my head and my heart.
I feel like I have a lot to contribute to a friendship. I am loyal beyond a fault, kind, polite, and caring. I usually give way more to others than I accept from them. I go above and beyond. So why is this so challenging? Interestingly, I think that some find me a bit threatening, for lack of a better word, although nothing could be further than the truth. I believe living solo is a sign of bravery that some may not possess and it makes them uncomfortable. All that being said, does the friendship world have a place for someone like me? Or am I destined to remain a loner?
I think part of the reason I feel the way I do is the influence of social media, with which I have a love-hate relationship. I scroll down my Facebook News Feed. I see people out and about with others, spending time with loved ones, and posting the perfect parts of their lives. It compounds the feeling of singleness. I wonder why I don’t have that level of comraderie in my life. Why am seeing all of this from afar instead of living it?
The good news is that living life completely on my own for the past four years is ultimately a testament to my strength and to some, that may be intimidating. I moved 2626.9 miles away from home. I take care of myself and my cat all by myself. I manage every detail of my life. I have learned a new career in only two years. My writing has blossomed. Perhaps being a loner is actually a gift waiting to be shared with those who understand and embrace my power and affection.
I feel like I owe everyone an explanation for not being very present right now, feeling disconnected and discouraged. However, that’s just my HSP talking. I don’t owe anyone anything. What I am going to share is what to do when life blindsides you.
- Cry. Get angry. You can’t move forward without feeling your feelings. Expect to cry frequently, at the most inopportune times, and to feel anger out of the blue. Grieving is real.
- You will wake up in the middle of the night, often more than once, so I suggest going to bed earlier as an attempt to get sleep.
- You will also unconsciously dream about what happened and rehash it over and over in your mind. Do whatever you can to stop. Breathe. Exhale. Release. It’s all in your head.
- Go to your chiropractor, your massage therapist, your acupuncturist, your counselor – whichever floats your boat – to heal yourself.
- Spend time with your pet. Pets offer the unconditional love you need that humans cannot.
- Immerse yourself in something worthwhile that will distract your attention, like writing, a special project, or charitable work.
- Purge or exercise. There’s nothing like a good purging of material possessions and/or a workout to physically release what’s going on in your heart and your head.
- Force yourself to get together with friends, even though you would rather stay home. Once you arrive to hang out, turn off the damn phone. Pay attention to each other. Savor the time.
- Plan a trip, alone or with others, in an attempt to leave negativity behind. It’s OK to escape.
- Do something you haven’t done in forever. Last weekend, I went shopping at a brick-and-mortar mall. I bought a dress. I can’t remember the last time I went to a mall, nor the last time I wanted to buy or wear a dress. I also bought kick-ass wedge sandals and strappy heels to go with the dress. Go, me.
- Take social media breaks and focus on you, because you are all you have and you are all you can control. Remember that social media is still media, complete with falsehoods, biases, misinformation, and people who aren’t what they say they are. You, on the other hand, matter most of all. Be good to yourself.
- If all else fails, make this song your mantra:
Here’s to survival,
I’ve written and talked about letting go as many times as I have failed at letting go. My challenge is that when I commit to someone or something, I’m in it for the long haul. I invest myself and my emotions steadfastly and completely.
Then it happens. Something or someone hurts me or disappoints me. I am treated unfairly in some way. For most people, that would be the final straw, but with me, I try to remain hopeful. It takes a few times for this to happen before I really let go. This week, I was kicked to the curb. It shook me to my core and made me re-evaluate myself. After some tears, anger, and feelings of hatred, I realized I can’t keep allowing unfair circumstances or hurtful people to control me. When I hold onto something so tightly, that means I am allowing it/him/her to control me. I was giving the situation too much of my attention and energy.
After this experience, I promised myself no more, and after a few days, I am still keeping my own promise to myself. It’s not easy. Sometimes I have to just say to myself, “Stop thinking about it. It’s done. It no longer matters.” Sometimes I start to react, then stop in my tracks. I redirect my focus to something or someone that does matter. I regain control and distance myself from the circumstances.
The good news is when I obey myself and relax, I feel so much better. I know this is going to sound bad on some level, but sometimes not giving a damn is the best choice.
I’ve only had two experiences in my life where I felt I could have died. The first was when I had taken an extra job working at a restaurant to supplement my teaching income that summer, but decided to keep working there nights and weekends during the fall semester. I was working every day and night somewhere. One evening, I had left work to visit a friend, and on my way home, I was involved in a terrible car accident that should have killed me. All I remember is that one minute I was driving, the next minute I was in my car, facing the opposite direction of where I was headed, and paramedics were lifting me onto a gurney. The first thing I said was, “Did I hurt anyone?” I didn’t remember my teaching job, just my restaurant job. It was determined that I fell asleep for a moment, and in that moment, my car hit the right guardrail at 55 mph, which spun the car around into the left guardrail, then finally came to rest facing the other direction in the middle of the highway. Thankfully, no other cars were on the road, and I only suffered a mild concussion and a very bruised up knee from hitting the dashboard and windshield. My seat belt was broken and the new one was on order, so it was not functional. From this I walked away and quickly realized that the restaurant job had to go.
I have been doing a lot of soul searching these first 16 days of the new year. I’m not one to make resolutions, but instead, I take an assessment of where I have been, where I am, and where I want to be. Last year was a learning experience in many ways, both professionally and personally. By the time the holidays arrived, everything sort of came to a head for me. I was not making the kind of progress that I wanted to make in any area of my life.
As a Highly Sensitive Person, I tend to take on the world’s feelings as my own and I take things too personally. Imagine being bombarded with sensory overload 24/7 and constantly trying to say and do what is right. That’s how it is to be me. I was overwhelmed with immeasurable fatigue and stress.
A little over a week ago, I made time to go to my doctor for a physical. I am generally healthy. In fact, I lost 17 pounds in 2014, gave up caffeine, and stopped taking unnecessary long-term medications. However, I also learned during this visit how much chronic fatigue and stress have been affecting me. I gave into my doctor’s recommendations to improve my sleep and alleviate feeling overwhelmed, thus assisting me reach my greater potential.
The results have been remarkable so far. Better sleep has an astounding effect on mood, mindset, and physical health. I catch myself starting to worry about something or becoming angry, but I quickly stop, regroup, and refocus. I feel a sense of calm I have not felt in a long time.
Giving of myself until I can’t give anymore overwhelms me. Being nice to the point of risking becoming a doormat exhausts me. Feeling guilty because I cannot be everything to everyone smothers me. Put a fork in me, I am done. I am giving in to what makes me happy, releasing what doesn’t, and rediscovering myself again. Letting go is not giving up, it is a courageous act of moving forward. More is not more. Less is more.
When you numb your pain you also numb your joy. ~ Brene Brown
I have one more thing to write before 2015 begins after all.
Yesterday, I had a panic attack about being alone. I don’t mean not being in a relationship, I mean feeling disconnected from the world, away from East Coast family and friends. I never had panic attacks until I lost my relationship and job in 2012, but I guess they are a form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), maybe? Most of them are about finances, but this was personal. With these moments of panic often come moments of clarity and enlightenment.
While I took a big risk by moving across the country for a new life and I love to travel to new places, I’ve never really opened myself up completely to opportunities or people since I moved. I have RSVPed to events or get-togethers with people I didn’t know, then chickened out at the last minute. I wanted to go, but I was afraid. Sometimes I attended, but I would quickly exit. I just arrived home from Hawaii and realized that while I was there, I did the same thing. I spent a lot of time with new friends that welcomed me into their fold, but I also would retreat to my hotel when I could. Part of that is because I’m an HSP and crowds and activity can overstimulate me. However, I also think it’s because I am drained from keeping my guard up.
On Christmas Eve, I watched one of my favorite movies again, French Kiss, but with different eyes. It has comedy, romance, France, a great wine moment, and it has a woman like me, a crazy chick who takes a risk that goes against her grain. However, she discovers along the way that she had been living a very closed life.
As I thought of all of this, it hit me. I am like an egg, closed, afraid to break open. I’m afraid of someone breaking through the shell that I’ve built around me for two and a half years. I’m afraid of not being accepted. I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid to really live. My chiropractors have known this for seven months, as they have had to open me up physically nearly every week.
In 2015, this egg will be ready to crack open. What good is an egg with an unbroken shell? The shell is meant to be removed to get to the deliciousness inside. I know it will be a process to let go of my fears, but it’s all about baby steps. It’s about peeling the shell away one piece at a time. And just wait until you see what’s inside of me.