My husband is gone to Dallas for the weekend and I am home… alone.
It’s been a while since I had the house to myself and, if I’m honest, it’s a little scary. I don’t know what to do with myself. I text a few friends, but nothing really comes up. I feel something inside of me. It is nervousness. I am nervous to be alone with myself.
I know what I need to do. I have been here before. I have to stop everything and come back to myself, become re-acquainted with what it means to just be in my own skin, to be alone and in relationship with myself.
I have friends who have either been married for a while or are getting married. I can also think of a few that are in serious relationships and a few that are entering into yet another relationship. I myself have been married for about 7 months. That’s not exactly veteran status, so I will refrain from giving advice. I will however share something that has become, at least for now, the most important thing for me in my marriage: The art of loneliness.
When I think of the friends I mentioned, a few come to mind that have never been alone. This is something I can relate to, although I know now it is a grave sickness. I remember a time in my life when I had to have friends with me at all times. If I was home alone, it meant something was wrong with me. I needed the validation. It was tortuous, especially when you consider having someone next to you at all times is nearly impossible. For this very reason, I didn’t have very many lasting friendships. Being in relationship with a selfish motivation—constantly seeking validation from another person—makes that person responsible for both your happiness and your misery. Its an impossible burden for anyone to carry and true love doesn’t ask that of someone.
Once my first serious relationship ended, I was able for the first time to see how debilitating that neediness really is. No relationship will last. Not a single one. I can not find myself by latching onto another person.
I truly feel that this loneliness is God’s way of teaching us who he is by showing us who we are.
I thought once I got married, this constant struggle with identity addiction and the endless search for balance would just disappear. The truth is, the more you are surrounded by people, even your significant other, the more desperate the need becomes. When, day in-&-day out, you are next to someone—when you wake up next to your husband or wife, and come home only to be greeted by the same person everyday—you forget how to be alone. Then, suddenly—without warning they have to go out of town—you are submerged in loneliness. Not knowing how to be alone with yourself can feel life threatening. The misery sets in faster, and the symptoms of loneliness drive you to the very thing that allows the dis-ease to persist, attention.
So back to my empty house, my silent cell phone, and my mind running wild with ideas of things I can do and people I can call. It almost seems harmless. But it isn’t. This habitual tendency is what keeps our society busy, sick, and debilitated. My contribution—the absolute very best thing I can do for my marriage, my unborn children, and every single person I will ever encounter—is sit, alone, in silence. I must learn to feel my heartbeat, my breath. If I am to be comfortable in my own skin, I must know what it means to be in my skin. This is also what it means to truly love.
In my wedding vows, the first thing I told my husband was that I would tend to my well-being. When I do this, I am totally his, devoted and open to him. I am a giver. When I don’t, I am a needy, selfish taker. These were my vows to him, but they are really my vows to God.