In my former life (the one where I was married and living in California), I would host parties for all occasions: birthday parties (from 1 to 70 years old), dinner parties, holiday parties, football parties, clothing swap parties, jewelry parties, vision board parties, cocktails parties…you get the idea. If there was a party to throw, I would be the first to volunteer to host it. I LOVE hosting parties because I love to welcome people into my home and make them feel cared for. Then my marriage ended and I was not in any state of mind to host any parties. And you know what happened? I stopped receiving any invitations.
There is a sad, lonely underbelly to divorce that has nothing to do with the uncoupling. It has to do with being the single friend in a crowd of couples. Or, more difficult than that, it has to do with being the single friend at home alone while your couple friends are all together at a dinner party. I have been trying to understand the reason for what I’ve started to call the Single Person Syndrome and have come up with a few theories:
- Couples don’t know if I’ll be “up for it” so they don’t ask.
- My “one-ness” isn’t sufficient company for both the husband and the wife’s desires for the evening.
- Wives fear me as a husband hunter; husbands fear me as a single wife converter.
- “Friends” don’t like the new me and or they prefer my ex.
- And of course there’s been this thing called The Pandemic.
The reality is, it’s probably a combination of all the above or perhaps it’s none of thee above? What I know for sure is that once upon a time my husband and I had a very social calendar, but today when I look at the weekend ahead of me (especially on those weekends when I’m without my kids), my calendar is almost always empty. I have been wracking my brain to try to understand why, when a divorced friend is in most need of company, there seems to be none around. Someone told me once that asking “why” isn’t a very productive question. The better question to ask is “what”, as in what can I do about it?
On Friday night I sat alone in my living room
listening to my Soul Playlist. It’s a playlist that I created in 2019 when I was in the active denial and bargaining stages of grief about my marriage. The playlist, which was created as a part of my music curriculum for my students, challenges the author to choose one song from each prompt without repeating the same artist twice. The result is a 360 view of your soul at the time of creation as told through music. (for more details on how to create your own Soul Playlist, check out the Music tab on my website or simply click here). Friday night was the perfect night for me to listen to these songs so I could feel how they resonate two years later.
As I watched the sunset from my front window with my puppy on my lap and my Soul Playlist on “universe play” (also known as shuffle), the opening chords from Plumb’s song “Need You Now” started to play and I was transported to all the times that I’ve listened to that song with tears streaming down my face. On Friday night, however, there were no tears, but I still felt the song reverberate in my bones. I got up from my couch and went outside to take in the beauty of the final moments of light and heard her sing these words:
From Plumb’s heartfelt song Need You Now“Standing on a road I didn’t plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I’m trying to hear that still small voice
I’m trying to hear above the noise…
And something inside of me clicked. I understood that right now, at this place and time in my life, I need to be alone so that I can hear that still small voice from within. This Single Person Syndrome that I had been resisting and resenting is actually a gift. It doesn’t matter the reason why my calendar is empty. The reality is, it’s probably not any of the reasons above nor is it even about me. Life has changed for everyone in the last two years, for better or for worse. My small voice was saying to me, as I say it to you now: Don’t ask why things are the way they are. Accept them. Find gratitude for all that you have in your current life situation. Then figure out what you’re going to do next.
Making peace with the solitude
In her book, Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnatch writes “For me, acceptance has become what I call the long sigh of the soul. It’s the closed eyes in prayer, perhaps even the quiet tears….This is simply a part of the journey” (From January 23rd “Accepting Real Life”). I read that line this morning from a quiet mountain cabin where I’ve spent the night with my Mom. We’re surrounded by snow and pines and elk and the healing power of nature. There was no invitation to a playoff football party this weekend, nor to dinner out with friends. And that’s ok. Clearly Spirit knows something that I have resisted wanting to learn, and that’s that I need to be uninvited. I need this time alone to make peace with where I am right now in my life’s journey. In Sanskrit, the word acceptance translates to “it is what it is”. And what it is is good.
I recently read a quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh (author of Gifts from the Sea) that said “Women must be the pioneer in this turning inward for strength.” So true! Turning inward doesn’t mean relying on our own human strength. When a person turns inward, they’re looking to the light that shines from within which I believe to be our source of strength, our soul and spirit and our connection to the Universal Life Force. I am not talking about religion, I am talking about Spirit, or the vibrational energy of Love. We are all the pioneers in our path of transformation and we ultimately have to rely on our own inner strength to carry us through our trials, whatever they may be. For me, with each step that I’m forging on my new path in life, I am slowly shedding the pain of losing my life parter, and also the sorrow in how friendships transform along the way. The solitude is a gift; a space for healing in which I can hear my inner voice. Without this time alone, I wouldn’t have the mental capacity to take one more step forward, or the clarity to know what it is I am stepping towards. I certainly don’t have it all figured out just yet, but as for this weekend, I turned towards the mountains and some much needed time away with my Mom. And it is well with my soul.
How about you? We have all been in solitude to varying degrees during the pandemic. Have you made peace with it? Is your inner voice guiding you towards a new next step in life? Please share in the comments below! I’d love to celebrate alongside you! ~Namaste
Beautifully written. I LOVE that you created the space to step outside, breathe and RECEIVE! THAT is the gift but even better is your ability to receive it. Acceptance doesn’t mean agreement, but there’s usually a lesson in it, and it leaves you open to receiving more. Love you, my friend.
This is something every woman could learn from. Thank you for a beautifully written, insightful piece that brought peace to me as I sit here at home after a lovely week with my sister in Mesa, Arizona (I live in frosty central Illinois), missing the easy companionship we shared. Please say hi to your mom for me, if you would. She’s a treasure, and I know she had a lot to do with who you are today. Love to you both!
Thank you Judi! I will certainly make sure my mom gets your message! Enjoy the sunshine! 🙂