12 Nov 2018

Going Solo: Going It Alone



 

There are many different meanings to “going it alone”.

After our conversation, “Going Going Gone Solo” a couple of weeks back I knew I wanted to explore this subject of “solo” further. There are so many ways women are flying solo and this is just one of them.


I am in awe of women every day.


I am constantly amazed by our strength and courage when we are faced with difficult situations, tragedies and loss. I am bowled over by our creative abilities and our dedication to friends and family. We are problem solvers first and foremost and I believe we can do anything we set our minds to. Our ability to love and to forgive reaches forever, even though as women we can be tested on a daily basis.


I asked my friend Meg, who you may recall penned the incredibly clever and droll, The Laurel Hedge, to write about going “solo’. Meg is smart and funny; she is Australian. Her sense of humour is deprecating but without an ounce of self-pity. Her words so often resonate with me because they tell it like it is; she can describe the rough underbelly of life with a diamond wit and uplifting humour. There is simply something about her.


Meg knows what it is like to go “solo” and so here she is:



Four years ago after a very sudden & unexpected divorce, I found myself living alone at 58. The loss I felt & all the issues surrounding the very challenging road to my Property Settlement are well documented elsewhere. Vicki has asked me to focus on the living alone part with this post & how I’ve dealt with it. Like so many of us who find ourselves in this situation through many different circumstances, there’s no manual to refer to. Honestly, I’ve just lurched along, dealing with the practical things as they’ve happened. However, trying to deal with the psychological aspect that this experience brings has been more of a challenge. And yes, the world IS full of couples & when you are no longer part of a duo, early on you really notice that! But I promise you, as times goes by, you notice it less & less until it’s absolutely NOT on your radar.

In the early days I did a ‘Living Alone’ search on Google looking for some tips & what popped up on my screen took me somewhat by surprise. The list included: learn to use a weapon, take a self-defence class, how to fortify your home as a Single if complete world chaos erupts, get some hobbies & familiarise yourself with the power tool aisle in the Hardware store were not particularly helpful. How to halve a recipe was. However, one little gem from Ms Marjorie Hilliss in her 1936 book Live Alone And Like It had me thinking that this solo life may have something going for it. Marjorie wrote “I know you were worried, but IT IS OKAY to entertain a man alone in your home while wearing pyjamas, as long as they are ‘Hostess Pyjamas’ & not ‘Sleeping or Beach Pyjamas’. ‘Lounging Pyjamas’ are also acceptable.” So thanks to Marjorie I immediately reviewed my ‘Hostess Pyjama’ situation & did an upgrade. Up to this time, they all remain unused.


When my first marriage ended 30 years ago I was 32 with 3 very young children & living alone was a very different process. My focus was on the kids – supporting them financially, returning to the workforce & restarting my career after some time away, school activities etc. etc. But this time around it’s been very different. The focus has been on just me & to be honest, at times I’ve foundered. I’m very fortunate that at 62 I’m still working full-time in a big, demanding job I love & for me that has been the game changer in this living alone caper. I will quite happily admit to throwing myself into my work & filling a few empty life gaps with work stuff. I’m so lucky to have had the best group of colleagues & clients who have cheered my every little win very loudly & have lifted me up on their shoulders on my not-so-good days. Surround yourself with people who are happy to lend their support, will celebrate with you & particularly for me, be happy to listen to my woeful attempts at dating & not offer an opinion on my dodgy choices! I’ve had 4 dates in 4 years & all of them have lasted under one hour. I’m concerned that there’s a pattern emerging!


Early on I wrote a very ambitious list of all the things I was going to do & could do now with my new found solo status. Not many of the items have been checked off. But some I hadn’t added have been & it’s those that have meant the most. I’ve truly loved being able to control all my finances, making decisions & charting my course for the future, so find someone you trust to help you & just do it.  I’ve always travelled alone for work & had no problems. But travelling solo for fun has been very different. Last year I had 3 glorious weeks in France, wandering around by myself, with no Itinerary & no particular goals. It truly was a liberating experience & set me free on so many levels. But there were times when I thought to myself ‘Nobody else in the whole wide world knows where I am right at this moment’ & it was a bit scary. So I would text the kids back home, often waking them up – beautiful pay-back I reckon! Or I’d write an Instagram post, receive 120 immediate responses from my lovely Followers & my shakiness would disappear!


The biggest cliché on living alone is that old chestnut Alone Is Not Lonely. Don’t believe it. Most of the time that’s true, but that’s an unrealistic expectation to live with. There will be times when the loneliness invades your solo space, don’t deny it, welcome it in & work with it. It is these times that allow you to reflect & shuffle around the priorities on your To Do List, editing, subtracting, but also, more importantly, adding new ones.


I go to the movies alone, vacation alone, walk around a new city alone, celebrate making my Quarterly Budget alone with a bottle of something special. But I also make sure I call friends & family often, initiate those spontaneous dinners, talk to strangers on my travels & always in elevators & keep those I love close.


Earlier this year my alter ego Millie left me a note on my Instagram page. It was 12 months to the day that the For Sale sign had gone up on my much-loved family home. It read ‘Dear Meg, a year ago today this sign appeared in your life. At the time you thought it was the end of something very precious to you, you were worried about the future & couldn’t see the way ahead. In some ways you were right, but mostly you were wrong. If you’d dried your tears & wandered around the back you would have found the note I left for you. It would have told you that you were about to discover things about yourself that you never imagined & that everything was going to be OK. So you learnt a very valuable lesson that beautiful morning dear girl, signs from me will often appear in places you least expect. Love The Universe’ xx


Being alone will bring you to a place you hadn’t expected to be, but believe me, if you look for the signs & embrace them, you will discover things about yourself that you could have only dreamt about. Accept the changes, take a chance, back yourself, never, ever lose your sense of wonderment & most of all, keep your sense of humour!




Follow Meg on Instagram, I promise her words will brighten your day, put a spring in your step and have you smiling all morning long.

Thank you, Meg. xv




image, rodney smith

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21 Comments

Nancie Nelson Bartley

The loneliest I have ever felt was being married to a man that just didn’t speak to me. (He was and is most likely suffering from depression, but refuses to acknowledge that/anything.) Now that I am single (my choice) I may be alone and occasionally lonely but never feel that soul crushing feeling of invisibility.

Reply
Vicki

Yes Nancie… I can only imagine.
Being “alone” doesn’t always relate to a single state. This is another great topic to explore… thank you for the inspiration… So often we can feel alone when we are surrounded by others.

Reply
Gae

Wonderful article and story. I’ve been going solo for almost 40 years. It was also an unexpected situation at first. Her points are valid, and there are many of us around. I had to chuckle at her 4 dates in 4 years that lasted less than an hour. I used to try dating with about the same amount of success. I tried more than 4 times because I found that it became a source for a good story……….I could write a book (most of it comedy) about bad first dates!

Reply
Phyllis

Oh dear. So many echos in how this mirrors my own situation. I laughed when my 20 year old asking me for relationship and dating advice. I did let her know I was always available for her but perhaps my dating form ….zero…was not up to close scrutiny. What can I tell you is I am alone, but not unhappy. There are times when I am lonely but still content. There is much to be said with about being available for a brighter future while still living a good life.

Reply
Vicki

I don’t think I am one for dating advise either… today one of my girls was asking me… I have been with the same man forever, so what do I know was my answer :) My children are so much smarter than me… I am going to them for advice!

Reply
Rosemarie

Alone is a great teacher. It teaches confidence, resilience, solitude, dancing/walking eating/sleeping to your own rhythm. You learn that what you feared most came and went and you survived. It challenges you to try new things, to look with new viewpoints and to grow. You find that carrying in your own firewood is empowing and you really can power wash the terrace if you choose. You learn how to ask for help gracefully and that if you give the neighbor the snowblower that is too big to operate, they will make sure your snow is cleared. You learn that people are kinder than you realized. You learn the world is yours to enjoy and you travel making friends everywhere along the way. I have had strangers adopt me on a Christmas Eve alone in Geneva; for a sightseeing day in Hong Kong; and stranded on a flight of stairs in Paris (heavy luggage and no elevator, up escalator not working). Technology let’s my family via my watch know where I am at all times. It has an SOS signal I can activate if I am in distress notifing emergency service and designated family. Retired, Divorced, widowed, children on their own — I’m rewriting myself. It’s liberating, it’s freedom and it’s a joy. It’s opening your heart and mind and letting go of the old; discovering the new.

Reply
Vicki

Wonderful sentiments, Rosemarie.
“I’m rewriting myself. It’s liberating, it’s freedom and it’s a joy. It’s opening your heart and mind and letting go of the old; discovering the new.” ABSOLUTELY!

Reply
Susie

Dear Vicki,
Thankyou so much for this wonderfully inspiring post and for sharing Meg’s words … My darling husband of 40 years passed away suddenly only 6 weeks ago and my life changed in an instant. The future as a single is very daunting but as a good friend said to me, “just think of it as a second chance at life”. Despite the house being eerily quiet and empty, and there being so much to do to tidy up loose ends, a tiny part of me looks forward to creating a new life in the future and who knows, maybe I too will pop over and wander around France… perhaps stopping in at
La Maison du Village!
Bisous xox

Reply
Vicki

Dear Susie,
I am so, so sorry to hear of your husband’s passing… what a shock and what an unexpected change for you. Yes, please come and visit… a trip to France can only help :) Thinking of you xx

Reply
Angela Muller

Wonderful post Vicki! I have forwarded this to many friends. One, in particular, does the “alone” thing confidently and beautifully. Like Meg, she is an inspiration! Being engaged in the world, through meaningful employment or community service, is truly a blessing and a balm. Thank you, Vicki. Thank you Meg…lived your words and spirit.

Reply
Eileen

My life stopped as I knew it six months and two days ago and I am now in the process of learning alone again. I continue to set goals and throw the rock in front of me and move forward to pick it up, then repeat. Divorce wasn’t my expectation at this point in my life, but neither was the way my marriage was disintegrating. I won’t go backwards. Your post is very helpful to me. There are many things worse than being alone. In fact, alone has become an unexpected gift. Thanks to all for the thoughtful comments. Very helpful. PS. One of my long term goals is to visit France. Not so bad.

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Kathy Willhite

Oh Vicki…..thank you for sharing your lovely friend with us all. I am now following her on Instagram and can’t wait to hear what else she has to say. I loved her poignant and witty article…..she has such a way with words… as do YOU! I too, am “solo” and appreciated the comfort of knowing there are others who express what I am feeling so well. Spot on!!!!

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Margaret Trueman

Dear Vicki
I so enjoy your beautiful posts and it is with much pleasure that I can tell you that.
I enjoyed reading Meg’s article and can relate to her solo journey. I have been solo now for more than six years, and the first two or so were very stressful while I worked through my anger and the settlement process. I will be forever grateful for the wise advice and support that my two wonderful adult children gave me. They are my rocks. I have learnt to mostly forgive, and I say mostly because sometimes I feel angry when I think of the things that still affect me negatively. So mostly forgive, but not forget. I am truly very happy now, and it is wonderful to be in control of my life, my finances, the house and garden. I have many friends and activities to keep me busy. Some of the bonuses I appreciate are not having to cook a meal for a man every night. I can eat what and when I like, I can go to bed when I like and spread my books on the empty side. I can listen to music in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep. I can buy what I like and do exactly what I want in the house and garden without criticism. This is my time to enjoy. Of course it would be lovely to have someone to enjoy company, go out with and travel, but as I don’t have that and don’t want it enough to go looking for it, I treasure everything that I do have and count my blessings every day. I have wonderful health and enough money to live comfortably, for which I am very appreciative.

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Deobrah Peterson Milne

Greetings dear Vicki and Meg. How I loved reading your post Meg, and I was over the moon with joy that Vicki came up with this brilliant idea to have you guest-post. I wish you knew how proud I was of you. I mean ‘really proud’. I remember as if it were last week the feeling of that first meal dining alone, first movie alone, & the day I felt those first feelings of pride, strength and contentment living life as a single. I quite liked my independence and knowing my future would be my responsibility & I was in charge of filling those blank pages. Someone told me once that I’d find love again when I stop looking. The best advice I received. The best part, I knew that I was okay if I didn’t. I loved every word of advice you shared Meg. As women we must lift each other up, and help each other recognize our inner strength. Quite frankly, we’re all pretty awesome!

Sending you both love and best wishes from California xx

Reply
Ann-Maree

I follow Meg/Millie on Instagram and love her take on life, resilience and of course that amazing quick sense of humour. Thank you for giving her the opportunity to uplift, acknowledge some truths and above all make me smile about it.

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anitapelayorivera

Good morning Vicki and Meg!

Meg, your story is compelling and so familiar to many of us, I’m sure. I think I’ve come to learn, by struggling with loneliness vs solitude, that it comes in waves, degrees, intensities and purposes. I’ve found myself at times longing for that solitude so I can hear myself think and create as the artist I hope to be, and then there have been times when I’ve realized that though I have friends and family, I’ve felt lonely and useless. I wonder still, if these phases that we all experience at some time or another, are moments that challenge us to do just as you have done, and so many of us: to find the solution and key to a happiness that is illustrated not in what we think happiness is, but in what each of us discovers what we are yet to be. You are brave. You are innovative and strong. A pleasure to meet you and read your experience.

Reply
Dianne

Lovely to come across Meg again, I followed Meg when she was writing her blog The Laurel Hedge, such a talented
writer. I will look forward to following Meg on Instagram.

Reply

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