Updated: Jul 29, 2020
I’m single and I live alone.
I’ve been single for almost 18 months and in that time I’ve turned my life around.
Not because I became single, but because becoming single was the final catalyst and I hit rock bottom.
Since my ex and I split, I’ve lost 6 and a half stones, I’ve gone from a size 20 to a size 8.
I’ve reignited my love for running and fitness in general.
I have quit drinking and refined sugars and carbs.
I have started volunteering, made new friends along the way , and I have been accepted to University. I’ll be 38 when I start and 42 when I graduate.
As well as achieving all these things, I’ve also established a friendship with my ex, after all we split because we realised that we just didn’t work together and if we carried on we would have ended up making each other miserable.
We loved each other enough to only want each other to be happy, and so we did the hardest thing I have ever had to do. To walk away from the first person who loved me for me and loved me enough to let me go.
Up until that point, my previous relationships had been with narcissists. So I was the victim of them and therefore nothing I ever did was right and I got judged for not being who they thought I should be.
This pattern was a direct result of my dad being a narcissist and not someone who is in my life anymore, not least because he’s already done enough damage and he will never hurt me ever again.
I have grown so much and my strength is something I am proud of.
In fact I’m proud of myself for everything I’ve achieved. I have become the woman I always wanted to be and I’ve returned to the trajectory I was aiming at when I was 14.
I have enjoyed being single because it has given me the time and space I have needed to get myself together, figure out who I am and what it is I wanted out of my life.
I love living alone for the same reason. I have my space and I do with it what I wish.
I have friends I spend time with and my family is pretty close by, and we have all been making more of an effort to spend time with each other in recent years which has been lovely.
I do have hopes of meeting someone in the future, someone who like my most recent ex and now friend, loves me for me, but crucially someone who is in sync with me and is on the same page.
But it’s not something I’m going out looking for as I believe it will happen when it’s meant to.
However this lockdown, this social isolation is getting harder and harder on my sanity, the loneliness is on the grass, the loneliness is at my door.
But the big thing it is affecting is feeling like the word ‘single’ is fast becoming a sharp object that hurts. I just want to shout 'I'm sick of doing everything on my own', instead of the fun loving cosy word it had been where I was thinking 'and this is why I am single'
This started in the weeks leading up to the lockdown, when I took my dog to the vet’s alone. He had had a limp for a while and over a weekend he had stopped putting weight on that leg altogether.
The vet after a lengthy examination took a little while to talk his way around to the diagnosis and for good reason. I was told Flash has a soft tissue malignant tumour, it's inoperable because of his age and where it is and the only thing they can do for him is medication for the pain and wait.
Either the medication will stop working or the lump will grow at which point I will have to consent to him leaving the world forever.
The vet prescribed him the pain medication and I had to go and sit in the waiting room on my own and digest this horrific news.
I have never felt so alone, not even in the absolute height of my depression when I felt like I was the only person on the planet, did I feel more alone than in those 5 minutes that it took for them to get the prescription together.
The waiting room was pandemonium, all the dogs were barking, all the owners were attempting to continue to gossip over the barking and the receptionists we’re doing their best to try to manage the chaos but I couldn’t hear any of it.
My entire body hurt from the loneliness of that moment and for the first time since becoming single, I wished I wasn’t. I wished I wasn’t alone. I wished I had someone there with me at that moment and it hurt that I didn’t and for those 5 long minutes I couldn’t distinguish between the sob’s of pain for the diagnosis and the sob’s of pain for having to go through this moment completely alone (and I don’t mind telling you that I’m in tears again, just writing it).
Digesting the news about Flash hugely overtook that fleeting feeling but the memory of how it hurt lingers still.
When we were in our teens, after mum had left. Dad somehow managed to meet a woman as narcissistic as he is. And instead of butting heads over this common personality trait, they were folie à deux. They wanted to live together but she didn’t want to ‘deal’ with 3 teenage girls so dad decided to sell our family home and buy a cheaper one in a rough neighborhood, dumping the three of us there along with her son because she didn’t want to deal with him either.
Both her son and I we’re working full time, I was told I had to pay all the bills as this would be a ‘great life lesson’ which is classic Dad talk for making something out to be ‘good for me’ when really it’s good for him to not be paying the bills. He lead me to believe that my step brother and I we’re splitting the bills, but the step mother decided that this was not a lesson he needed to learn. I was told I should be grateful that I didn’t have to pay the mortgage and that Dad was ‘good’ enough to buy us our food and cleaning supplies.
Dad would order us a food shop which he would have delivered once a fortnight. We we’re not involved in this process, so we never got to choose what we have for food and not only that but he never ever ordered enough no matter how often we would tell him. On top of paying for almost all the bills, I was also buying my own food so as to try to leave more food for my sisters. Our step brother did the same thing, but the food shop Dad did still wasn’t enough for two people and so spent 80% of the fortnight with empty shelves.
In the height of the panic buying, when everyone seemed to think it was perfectly acceptable to buy 36 rolls of toilet roll to cover a fortnight of self isolation.
The shelves in every single supermarket we’re completely empty and I found myself suddenly suffering from PTSD and the childhood traumas of constantly having empty shelves being starved of both nutrition and affection.
I found myself just standing helpless in the supermarket, wanting to cry because I hated that this was triggering me. Having just found out about Flash and trying to come to terms with that horrible feeling of not wanting to be single because of how lonely I felt, only to be reminded of the other loneliest time in my life at St Mary’s Road.
It hurt. A lot. It still does.
The first couple of weeks of the lockdown we’re strange as I imagine they we’re for everyone.
Getting used to being at home.
I’m fortunate enough to be able to work from home, so getting used to it has been weird as was going to the supermarket.
As the weeks roll into months and we are all faced with this limbo lockdown, I do what I can.
I have two fitness trackers.
One is for my running and one is for my at home workout. Each night I go to bed knowing what the plan is for the next day and I’m either getting up at 5.30am to go for my walk or my run, dependent on the tracker.
I have a work space set up and I am strict about it to help me focus myself for work and unwind for when I finish.
I have been able to get a lot of odd jobs done around the flat that I keep putting off or forgetting.
It is wonderful to have this time with Flash, because we are in lockdown. I have so much more time with him that I wouldn’t have had if I was still going in to work and I am super grateful for that.
Despite all of these positive things that I am disciplined to keep up, I am struggling with the loneliness.
I am finding myself daydreaming about just being in a room with someone, anyone.
I am finding myself daydreaming about being in a healthy relationship and I hate those daydreams because it’s a sign of my loneliness. I daydreamed about being in a healthy relationship whilst in every unhealthy relationship and towards the end of my last one too.
One good thing about experiencing trauma and working through it, is I know what I have to do to keep myself sane, to keep myself positive and to keep myself moving forwards but it doesn’t stop it from hurting.
I love living alone, when I’m allowed to leave but when I’m not it is horrible.
I am all in favour of the quarantine, I understand why it’s vital that we do this.
It is better to miss people now whilst in isolation, than have them missing forever.
Though it also leaves me wondering about the lasting effects this lockdown will have on our society from a mental health perspective.
How many of us will need some kind of support once this is all over?
Those that live alone, those in bad relationships, those in abusive relationships now stuck 24/7 with that person.
If you know someone who lives alone, reach out to them. Knowing that you are in someone's thoughts is world changing.
If you're the one who lives alone, reach out. Even though you feel alone, you are not and reaching out will make your world feel a lot better.