People find it weird when I go for movies/plays/shopping/dinner alone. They think I am crazy however, I find it liberating. There was a time in my life when I started doing things alone as I had no choice, however over the years it became my chosen lifestyle. I go alone not because I am alone or lonely, I do this because I enjoy my own company more than anyone else’s. I am my best friend.
Last week when I wrote the post Introvert vs Extrovert, most of my readers could relate to it. We almost planned to form an Introvert’s club. I had never expected to meet so many introverts in blogging circle. And then I read Shilpa’s post How do you deal with loneliness and felt her pain. The peril of being lonely is something I felt since childhood. I almost developed a Stockholm Syndrome with loneliness and now I literally enjoy being lonely and no more dread being alone.
I was a single child, living in the hills of a North Eastern state. There were very few people around, only couple of neighbours. My parents used to be busy. I was mostly left to myself with hardly any friend. I was not really unhappy probably because I was too small to understand loneliness. I enjoyed playing with myself. I had my dolls, Enid Blyton books and my stray dog Julie to give me company.
Things improved when we shifted to Kolkata. I made a lot of friends. However, things worsened drastically after my mother fell fatally ill. I suddenly stopped relating to my friends. The fact that they had healthy mothers made them different from me. All of them were sympathetic towards me yet I started feeling like an outcast. While my friends used to go shopping with their mothers and discuss what they bought in college the next day, I used to be sitting near my unconscious mother’s hospital bed. All of a sudden my small family became dysfunctional. I started avoiding others. I started hating going to houses where I saw healthy parents, siblings, laughter and fun because in our family we only discussed blood reports, dialysis, medical bills and days left for my mother. After 3 years of struggle, one winter morning we got a call from the hospital and knew everything was over. From a house of three, it became a house of two.
My love-hate relationship with loneliness started. As a 19-year-old girl, it was difficult to cope with the loss of the mother. I started hating going to college. Nobody wanted to hang out with a girl who was mourning day and night. My friends wanted to go to pubs and parties while I just wanted to come back home, wrap my mom’s saree around me and lie down. Her saree smelt of her even long after she was gone.
I used to be alone most of the time as Dad had to go out for work. I used to feel claustrophobic and most evenings I used to sit and cry. This was the time when all 19-year-olds were dating, pubbing, and having fun. And, I was sitting alone, missing my mom and praying that my dad shouldn’t die.
Then I shifted to a new city and even though I was living all by myself I strangely stopped feeling lonely. In fact, they were the happiest days of my life. I had by then stopped considering being alone with loneliness and had started loving myself and enjoying my own company.
While in Hyderabad I picked up the habit of going for movies alone. I started enjoying my company so much that when my father said he would come and stay with me I literally got angry. I realised the joy of being alone. My room became my heaven on earth. I used to be in the office all the week almost my entire waking hours, however, weekends used to be a fun time. I used to go and read books in a small bookshop, go and take a round of the nearby mall, sit in a cafe sipping coffee and enjoying watching others and then go and watch a movie. I felt liberated. I was no more dependent on anyone’s company for my happiness.
We all should learn to befriend ourselves and then you will no longer feel alone. Being alone and being lonely is different. We give too much importance on our relationships with others. However, the truth is nobody and no relationship is lifelong the only lifelong relationship is with ourselves. Our parents, siblings, friends, children, pet, and even partners are not there from our moment of birth till death. The only one who is with us from birth to death is our souls. So learn to feel happy with yourself. Our Life is the only thing we have. Loneliness is only a state of mind. As noble laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote “Jodi tor daak shune keu na ase, tabe ekla chalo re”.
Linking this post to #MondayMusings hosted by dear Corinne.