I’ve seen on social media sites a cartoon saying that you know you’re and introvert if the pandemic hasn’t affected your lifestyle. Not only has it not affected me, I have seemed to grow and thrive in it. Yet, sadly I look at others that struggle with the idea of being on their own. For some the idea of being alone is frightening.
When I got divorce in 2010, I ended up living in a small apartment by myself for six years. It was during this time that I experienced a major growth in my spiritual and emotional life. I learned to love my own company and cherished the idea of pampering myself.
When my day of work was finished, I’d walk to my tiny apartment, relax for awhile and then make my dinner. Chop up onions, garlic, peppers, or maybe peel some potatoes. Do the prep work on the hind quarters of a chicken, or a ribeye, or whatever my appetite was craving. Within the hour my meal was done and I sat at the dinette, turned on the TV to watch some old comedy show and enjoy my meal.
After that, a nice relaxing shower, then wash the dishes, catch up on the days events and make my way to bed. It may sound boring or maybe even a bit lonely, but it wasn’t. In fact, I look back fondly at that time because it represented peace.
It was during those six years that I learned how to manage money and get out of debt. I learned good habits, like washing the dishes, making the bed, and doing my laundry. More importantly, I learned I was worth the effort to take care of myself and not rely on others to do that for me.
Don’t get me wrong, we all need some human contact. Yet, I believe it is wrong to rely on human contact to make our lives whole. It’s codependency and is bound to fail. You can not put another human being on a pedestal, like a Greek God, and expect them to fill the holes within oneself.
I’ve know people that during the pandemic that abused the lockdown rules. They found so many reasons to pop in their car and get things they deemed necessary for their mental health. They’d go to the store to buy a litre of milk, then the next day go back to the store to buy shoe insoles. Then day three go to the post office for some stamps, yet they’d then turn around and order their groceries on-line and have that delivered.
Their support bubble of local friends included a person that was ten miles away. As a resident of the United Kingdom we were told not to travel unless it was for work or medical reasons. Travelling to see a friend and give him a musical CD or borrow his laptop didn’t meet the needs of what the support bubble meant.
When lockdowns first started in March 2020, I was placed on furlough from my place of employment. I didn’t become a total hermit, yet with my medical history, I was vigilant with my surroundings and those near me. I did venture out and got my exercise by walking a mile and a half roundtrip to the grocery store twice a week and playing in my garden. Did some studying on a major investment I hope to make sometime this year. Through my time in that little apartment to this lockdown, I became an expert I entertaining myself, without being lonely or an emotional drain on others.
12 Step Recovery Programs, teach us to share our stories and to find a Higher Power. No matter how hard a person can try, there will be a time when they are left alone. That’s where a Higher Power comes in. It gives us the emotional and spiritual strength to survive on our own.
When AA started, there wasn’t a meeting at the local church every Tuesday, or at the neighbouring town on Fridays. The population was more spread out and not everyone owned a car to get to a meeting (when they could find one). Cell phones were not yet created and no one knew what the word computer meant. The recovering alcoholic was literally on his own. His best chance of survival was finding a Higher Power. This Higher Power would help him learn to enjoy his own company. It would also help him understand that other people can not fill the emptiness within oneself.
The best gift we can give to others is our independence. To let them see that we can entertain ourselves, that they don’t feel obligated to meet our needs. In the end, by learning how to enjoy our own company, we will develop stronger relationships built on healthy wants and needs, instead of needing others to make us whole.