Perhaps this is an article more relevant to the older women among us, but it’s a reality we all will face in the future. Whether because of the death of your spouse, divorce, break up of long-term relationships and sometimes by choice, women statistically are more apt to live alone than men. Whether introvert or extrovert, many of us find ourselves with no one to talk to other than the walls. I remember my mom choosing to live the single life when my dad passed at the untimely age of 68. Now at 67 myself, this sounds too terribly young. Not interested in marrying again, mom found that her love of nature, and singing while driving as she explored the many country roads in Central Wisconsin kept her happy. She had her friends, but had no issues with self as a best companion. Of course there was a tv or radio on in every room of her home. I find myself using that same trick leaving NPR, Alexa music or my favorite recitation of Qur’an playing in the background to keep me company.
My husband and I seem to always find ourselves on different continents. Work and family keep him in Jordan so more than likely I will be the one to make the annual trek eastward for a few months. This leaves me alone and sometimes lonely when in Dallas. Fortunately my son and his wife live nearby but nothing takes the place of a live-in mate.
On the plus side, being alone gives me ample time for reflection and adds to my ability to voice my thoughts for the various publications I write for. Few distractions prevent me putting pen to paper – well, fingers to keyboard – and off I go, unfettered and inspired.
The downside of living alone is to be constantly self-motivating. There’s no one to say, let’s wash the car, work in the yard, paint a bedroom, take a walk, watch a good series, have a nice long conversation or match wits with in a debate. I find that I very much prefer series to movies. In a series there is not only better character development but those very characters become family. I’m addicted to the Turkish semi-historical drama Resurrection: Erturgrul, and after an extremely long run of 5 seasons and hundreds of episodes, I was absolutely bereft when it ended! The Kayi Tribe had become my tribe! I am still on the lookout for anything remotely as satisfying. (God bless you, Netflix!)
Particularly now in quarantine after my normally busy spring calendar evaporated into thin air, I found making a schedule an essential survival tactic, Much as I love watching my series, sitting all day not only hurts my sit bones but makes for a mushy, procrastinating brain. Even reading requires too much sitting! Far better to paste that schedule on the fridge and keep to a daily timeframe: sleep and rise early, shower, dress (on that I am adamant – no pajamas all day for me – ever!), exercise, walk, write, and mandatorily check in with friends and family thanks to the great blessing of technology, particularly Zoom. Now I can keep up with international friends as easily as those in Dallas. I also have a list of potential household and yard projects calling me that have been on the back burner for far too long.
When the phone rings, I sound a bit froggy, realizing it’s the first time I have actually used my voice that day. Occasionally I struggle to enunciate my thoughts clearly or search for a word that is right there on the horizon or the tip of my tongue. Is it early onset Alzheimer’s I worry, or I am merely unused to articulating when I have no one around me? Sometimes that’s frightening for the public and motivational speaker in me.
Friends enmeshed with family and work are understandably forgetful of my alone-ness so I am typically the one that suggests coffee dates and the Zoom meetups. Networking has always been a joyful experience, connecting the unconnected, so I take what is heavy on me and try to make it lighter for others. I am always very aware of the wallflower or someone who is not included in a discussion – helping her to find her voice.
As I write this, we’ve reached the middle of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. Much like the onset of the quarantine, the prospect of a social-less Ramadan without the usual community iftars (fast breaking meals) and attending the mosque for prayers and the recitation of Qur’an – an amazing social gathering of so many friends and acquaintances- gave me pause and not a little panic – how would I do this alone? I am happy to say it’s been one of the most spiritual months ever! No distractions compete for the intense level of worship that we all seek in this month and found difficult in previous years.
So for all its drawbacks, you can find not only one voice but many while on your own. If you find yourself alone and lonely one day, what will be yours?
Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash