Monday, July 29, 2013

Being Alone

The beach is literally a five minute walk from my new apartment, but until today I hadn't gone. This was because I was waiting for someone to go with, but all of my friends here have jobs to go to during the day. The thought of going by myself seemed weird, lonely, and sad. But since today was such a sunny and beautiful day, I decided to finally go even though I felt strange about it.

As I was walking up to the beach, an older couple was holding hands, carrying their fold-up chairs, and searching for the perfect spot. I ended up laying my towel a few feet from them.

They were both reading silently for a while, occasionally looking up from their books to smile at each other. At one point, the woman seemed to get bored of her book and started talking to the man. He attempted to keep reading while responding to her, but when this proved too difficult, he put his book in his lap so he could talk. After a few minutes, they both went back to reading. A few more minutes passed and I looked back over at the couple. I noticed that the man's book was back in his lap and he had reached over to grab the woman's hand. She held his hand as she struggled to turn the page with the other, until she decided she'd rather just hold his hand and put the book down. They leaned back in their chairs, held hands, and smiled at each other while enjoying the sun's warmth.

I got teary-eyed while watching them and thinking about how much I wish I could be there with Blake doing the same thing. But the weird thing was that even though the couple had what I wanted, I was not upset by them. Instead, I was so filled with happiness because of how obvious and true their love was, even after all of these years.

I've experienced similar things to this a lot since Blake's death. Usually after a break up, the sight of anyone in love makes me sick. I think it's a mix between jealousy and repulsion. But obviously what happened to Blake and my relationship wasn't a break up, so I think that's why I feel completely different. Now, I cherish love even more. When I see two people in love and happy, all I want to do is root for them and wish them the very best. Thanks to Blake, I know true love is the greatest feeling in the world. Everyone deserves to experience it.

This started me thinking about what I need now. If being in love is the best feeling, wouldn't feeling that way again help me feel better? Maybe losing my boyfriend left me with a hole in my heart that can only be filled by another boyfriend? Almost immediately as those thoughts crossed my mind, I dismissed them. No, that can't possibly be the right way to go about healing my broken heart. First of all, you can't successfully try to fall in love, and second, how unfair would it be to attempt to start a relationship with someone else when I am clearly still in love with Blake?

This whole discussion in my head made me reflect upon the fact that I initially stopped myself from going to the beach because I thought it would be pathetic to do it alone. Why did I think that? What's so bad about being alone?


I think I've subconsciously held the belief that to be truly happy, I need to be in a relationship. Somehow, having someone claim me as their girlfriend was validation of my self-worth. See? I am lovable, the fact that I have a boyfriend proves it. Someone out there thinks I'm good enough to be with me and only me. Being in a relationship made me feel like I was a person worthy of love.

But that's not what true love is about. Some of the loneliest people I know are in "serious" relationships. When I see couples like that, I am the opposite of envious. I feel bad for them because by continuing to be together, they are actually holding each other back from finding true love. No one should be in a relationship just because they are afraid to be alone. Because they're scared about what being alone might say about their worth. Because they are worried that if no one is in love with them, they aren't lovable.

By stopping myself from doing things, experiencing things, enjoying things because I am alone, I am reinforcing my flawed thinking that a person needs to be in a relationship to be truly happy. Like I've always believed, your soul mate isn't meant to "complete" you. A functional and lasting relationship isn't based on two people "needing" each other.  True love develops when two individuals, whole in their own right, share a similar vision for their future, see how they can grow together, and become best friends who happen to also be attracted to each other.

In order to get to a place where I can be that for someone else again, I need to be that for myself first. Now that I have been forever changed by this experience, what do I see in my future? What things do I need in my life to help me continue to grow? How can I be my own best friend now?

I see myself as an old woman, reading at the beach, smiling, and holding hands with my husband. I know that will be my life one day. For now, I am going to enjoy being alone. Even writing "enjoy being alone" feels forced and fake right now, but someday soon it won't.

Although I can't control when I find true love again, I can control how truly I love myself.