It shouldn’t hurt to be alone

But it does.

I’ve been away from here for months – that probably makes me an arsehole. Sorry.

New job, blah blah, big personal life changes, blah de blah, but no excuses.¬†The name of this blog is apt, no? ūüėČ

I’m sitting here alone wondering how I got ‘here’ and where everything is leading, and what it all means, and why the f*ck I seem so fundamentally ill equipped to be in my own company.

How cliché, right?  Рunadulterated navel gazing as the year ticker is about to click up.

happy new yearI’ve been lectured on the difference between loneliness and being alone, but I haven’t been able to separate the two very well. If you’ve cracked that, or even if you’re stymied like me, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

I’m decidedly not sorry at all for being alone. An AirAsia plane went down two days ago. Who the f*ck am I to feel sorry for myself?! So I’m not.

I’m just lonely. And confused by why I can’t seem to enjoy my own company.

Maybe it has something to do with a difficult childhood and genetics that have paved the way for a perfect storm of biochemical imbalance. But why should the act of being alone feel like taking an elevator down thirty two floors to the¬†depression basement? Perhaps being alone could be a buoying and freeing experience? Like jumping off the roof of a building as in The Matrix and realising you’re okay? Maybe. I’ve felt moments of that, and gratitude for glorious independence from the weight of compromise and people pleasing.

Maybe the reason I suck at being alone has something to do with how much I suck at being with others.

I’m either a crazy workaholic with manic social calendar or sit sadly by myself in quiet and isolation, paralysed by some kind of fear I can’t quite put my finger on.

If I were Goldilocks I’d run back and forth between the icy cold and piping hot bowls ‘ouch ouching’ all the way instead of settling for the safer middling option.

goldilocks 3 bowlsWhy a person of extremes? Born into it perhaps. Molded by a life of extreme events. I crave the adrenaline and excitement and the counterpoint of solitude because I can’t sprint all of the time. But the solitude is often an uneasy break from life and is rarely for pleasure. The ‘safe’ option seems worse though – living in moderation seems to provoke greater anxiety and disquiet than all the terror of being alone.

Spiritual leaders, mental health experts, self-help gurus chant about the importance of ‘balance’ but I don’t know how to be alone only a little. I’m either with you or I’m not. I’m either in the company of others or I’m not. Dividing time equally has been an elusive accomplishment.

Maybe trading a life partner for independence (and possibly a chance at a ‘better’ relationship) is just running on a hamster wheel and whatever I do the chances for moments of joy will be the same depending on my capacity for gratitude.

hamster wheel

Maybe it’s supposed to¬†hurt a lot to be alone. And it’s supposed to hurt a lot to be with others. Maybe that’s a fact of living to accept as the down payment on a chance at those fleeting moments of tender connection and sweet independence.

The real problem could be my low tolerance for the trade offs. An emotional greed for more ups than downs has created a false sense of entitlement.

So here’s a different kind of new year’s cheers –

Here’s to 2015, a year that will be lonely, and difficult, and painful, and fast paced, and exciting, and interconnected, and here’s to acceptance of its peaks and valleys as they are, rather than as I would wish them to be.

peaks and valleys


21 day Happiness Challenge!

get happy5 simple activities repeated for 21 days straight will rewire our brains for a lasting, more positive outlook according to research by Shawn Achor.


Wanna try it out with me?

  1. Gratitude – think of three things for which you’re grateful, with a new list each day

  2. Journaling – write one positive thing that happened today to allow your brain to relive it (there’s an idea for a blog post!)

  3. Exercise – keeps the brain healthier than Sudoku; remember any activity’s better than nothing!

  4. Meditation Рeven a few minutes daily improves focus and compassion for ourselves and each other (have you seen the free Take 10 My Headspace app?)

  5. Random acts of kindness – write one person a quick note with a few encouraging words

Thanks to Shawn Achor’s TED talk¬†and¬†My Coaching Corner for the inspiration! To learn more about Shawn’s positive psychology, check out¬†Good Think Inc.

the gift of a migraine

Writing about perspective gymnastics yesterday, I had no idea that a migraine today would help my challenge of the week to focus on what’s going right in my life. Thanks, serendipity! There’s nothing like intense pain to help you appreciate the little things.

sunglassesI now revere the simple act of going about my day without the urge to use a wine opener for self-trephination. And how fabulous am I, writing with sunglasses on? (yes, I know I can dim my computer screen, but I like to make pain more chic). As well as greater light sensitivity, my heightened sense of smell is kind of like a superhero power.

I can smell flowers through the window, and know you only applied one coat of antiperspirant this morning.¬†So instead of whingeing about the explosions inside my skull, I’m appreciating the gift of a migraine.