Alone But Not Lonely

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I am alone.

Those sound like sad words, don’t they? The implication being I am forlorn and lonely, forced into unwilling solitude by a cruel, cruel world.

Reality is somewhat different.

The truth is, I am coming out of a twelve year relationship. When I got married, I never thought divorce would be the end result, but here I am in the land of the big D nonetheless.

I’ve heard a lot of “I’m so sorry,” and “that’s too bad,” from people as the news has slowly spread. They are all common, expected platitudes that neither help nor offend me. I know these words come from a genuine place of concern, and while I agree it is too bad, I’m not entirely sorry about it.

Divorce. A few years ago I would have staunchly denied that it would ever be in my future. Now, it’s a circumstance I am equally saddened and relieved about.

It took me and my husband a long time to get here. And it didn’t happen because we fought, or because one of us was nasty to the other, or because we hate each other. There wasn’t another woman or man. Neither of us struggles with addiction. There was no abuse in the relationship.

Honestly and simply, we came to the realization that while we were very good friends, we just didn’t love each other anymore and didn’t have enough in common to stay together. Empty nester syndrome strikes again.

If one of us had been an asshole, divorce would have been a lot easier. But leaving someone who is genuinely your friend is a much more difficult task, one that many people just won’t understand.

The thing is, as I enter midlife the idea that our time here is finite has become increasingly bittersweet, highlighting the imperative of discovering myself and really, truly, living during the years I have left.

So who am I? I am a spontaneous, passionate, rebellious, artistic, bold, free-spirited, gypsy. I like to dance and drink and laugh and be a little wild. I read and write. I feel deeply.

My husband? He has deep familial roots. A real salt of the earth man. His mother has lived in the same house for almost forty-five years. He is steady and reliable and kind. He enjoys his routine and being settled.

Neither personality is bad, but over the years it became increasingly apparent that it was becoming harder and harder to meet in the middle, until one day we knew we needed to end the marriage if we wanted to preserve the friendship we had.

Do I feel sad? Most definitely. Last night as I unpacked boxes in my new apartment, I came across a set of mugs my mother had specially made for us. Hand sculpted, they depict ecstatic, dancing bears in their wedding garb. I started to unwrap them, thinking I would place them on a shelf somewhere, but then I realized the significance of them, these symbols of a marriage that no longer existed. I broke down in tears as I wrapped them up again and put them back into the box for storage. Keepsakes I will take out from time to time and recall that wonderful man I married.

Do I feel relieved? Absolutely. My husband deserves to be with someone who truly loves him and wants to be with him, someone who can be a bigger part of the kind of life he wants. So do I.

It took time to get here, but the pain I’ve felt as I agonized over the demise of our marriage has finally let up. Whenever we talk about incidentals, household items, bills, etc., it is with friendship and good humor. I am grateful we can still enjoy each other, that we can split as friends, unlike so many.

And now I can think about the future with a vision that fits who I am. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,” words that resonate deep within me. There are so many things to do and see in the world, and for my part, I plan on doing and seeing as many as I can, be it by myself or with someone else. I plan on cracking open the bones of life and draining them of every last drop of marrow so that on the day I die, I can look back and be satisfied that I truly lived. I’m going to live the hell out of life.

I am alone, but I am not lonely. I’m a woman on a quest, with a vision and a purpose that has yet to be defined.

And I’m just fine with that.

(Artwork provided by Torrie Lockwood, one of our writer’s very talented sisters.  Visit her facebook page for artwork https://www.facebook.com/torrie.rohling )

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