When Things Don’t Work Out And You Are Afraid Of Being Alone Forever

afraid-of-being-aloneIf you are most people, most of your relationships will not work out. Sometimes things will fall apart naturally; sometimes everything will come screeching to a halt; sometimes you will fall asleep facing in opposite directions for months and one day realize it is not because of your back pain, it’s who can no longer look at the pereson lying next to you. Sometimes, it will creep up so subtly that when it’s over, you’re not heartbroken — in fact, you’re not even surprised. I am most people, and most of my relationships have not worked out. All, in fact.

I knew when I moved out of Portland, things would be different. I’m writing this from my new room in my new apartment on the Lower East Side. I have no furniture, no lamps and nothing on the walls. There are no curtains, so I typically change under the covers in the dark or in the bathroom because I am paranoid somebody’s sitting outside my window. I’m just paranoid in general.

For instance, I am afraid of being alone. Not being alone while walking on the street, though I am admittedly scared of that, too. I am afraid of being alone in that same way millions of people fear solitude: I am scared of living alone and, in the end, dying alone. I am not always afraid of being alone, however — just when it seems inevitable.

Yesterday, I realized something I deeply wanted to work out will not be. It was mostly mutual and for a very, very rational reason; I moved last month from the Pacific Northwest to New York, thereby creating an enormous gap. We knew this would happen, but predicting events and watching them unfold are two very different experiences. Nevertheless, despite knowing how rational those reasons are, I am so sad today. I haven’t told many people because I don’t want to hear any advice. I do not want a single “things will be okay,” “forget about it,” or, worse, “you’re better off.” I do not want sympathetic offers to have a drink tonight. I do not want a hug. I want to experience being alone on my own terms because I’m tired of being told loneliness is the same as weakness.

I don’t need a relationship to make me happy. I love my family, my friends, my pets, my job, and avocados. I am a decent cook. I eat well. I laugh often. I support myself financially and (much of the time) emotionally. For years, I was co-dependent and needy; I thought I was only half a person without another person. Now, romance-wise, I want somebody whom I can speak with, sleep with, and sleep next to.

If you are alone, I can’t give you much advice on how to change that; I can only say that you’re not really alone, because we’re all somewhat alone, but that doesn’t mean very much, anyway. But if you’re afraid of being alone, I can tell you that I know it’s terrifying, especially when you have never really been done it (successfully, happily) before.

People who spend most of their lives alone aren’t necessarily “good” at it, but they’re better-adjusted, and that can mean the difference between driving yourself crazy with fear and simple acceptance. It means you can spend a Saturday night quiet and alone without feeling overwhelmed by your own company. And people who spend most of their lives alone will tell you how much better it is, and how much easier it is, and how you should really stop being sad about it because they aren’t sad about their situation and it’s only made them stronger. And if you are like me, you’ll nod and say, “Yes, you are so strong, that must have been so hard, thank you for the advice.”

As many of you may know (or may not, I don’t know, you could just skip all my blubbering retrospective sadness each week), I write a lot about my personal issues. Typically, those pieces are about the past and what I’ve been trying to do to correct those problems.

But today, while I am sorry to be such a huge bummer or to sound as though loneliness is somehow the only thing my life revolves around right now, I am admittedly very sad. So, the point of this piece is to remind you that being lonely is normal. Being afraid of being alone is very, very normal, no matter how many high fives we give to those who are permanently cool with it.

Just because you’re sad about being lonely and scared of being alone doesn’t mean you are a flailing, affection-anemic loser who’s flunking at being “unconstrained” and self-sufficient (at least, I hope not). Being told you’re not allowed to sometimes feel sad while alone is like being told you can’t get hungry when on a diet. While I may be shedding some metaphorical weight by being alone (160 pounds of it, to be more literal), I don’t have to be happy about it and I don’t have to stay strong.

You are allowed to be sad, you are allowed to be lonely, you are allowed to not want to be alone. So tonight, when I retreat back to my new apartment, stare at my blank walls and change under my borrowed covers, even though I won’t go so far as to sob or panic or casually call some old acquaintance up for sex, I won’t be happy. But I’m allowed to not be, and that’s okay for now.

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    • Tania

      Is a job and an avocado important for being content alone? Because if so, I think I need to find an avocado. I’m not unhappy. I just want someone to cuddle and tell me I’m beautiful and super funny. Who is also super hot and smart.

      So, you know, nothing excessive.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sameurysm Samantha Escobar

        For like three years, I carried an avocado, butter knife and a salt shaker in my purse at all times. It was like pepper spray against being lonely and/or hungry.

    • http://helloalle.com/ Alle


      • http://www.facebook.com/sameurysm Samantha Escobar

        <3 <3 <3 O YEW.

    • http://poorgoop.com/ Samantha

      Being alone, especially after a big move, is the pits.
      I hope you find something to help you feel less lonely. In the meantime, your honesty about the situation is refreshing. I just sent this to my little sister – she moved to a whole different continent, and she’s tired of everyone telling her to cheer up. She’ll get there (and so will you, and so do we all) eventually, but it’s good to be reminded that sadness and loneliness are valid, albeit unpleasant, emotions.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sameurysm Samantha Escobar

        It can be really frustrating, and it means a lot to me that you wanted to send this to your sister. Thank you for the nice words, name sistah.

    • Sean

      Lost 160 pounds by breaking up with someone?

      Man, you must’ve really hated that guy to quote Tom Arnold.

    • pattya

      what makes you strong is experiencing and expressing what you are feeling. you wont feel like this forever, things are always changing. until then where you are is the perfect place until its not.

    • Dylan Burke

      Being lonely is the product of forgetting about those whom we can always turn to; those that care deeply for us. We all forget sometimes, but there is always time to remember.

    • http://blisstree.com/ Carrie Murphy

      <3 Sam, <3 avocados.

    • MR

      How close are you to Chambers Street? Take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Make right when you come down the stairs and then another right and thru the park and then thru the (semi modern) Mitchell Lama complex, and your in the streets I grew up in and my family still lives. After you clear the Michell Lama, the Hotel St. George is just up and to the left. I “located” a key to a sidestreet door there – 1st stop the laundry room to get clean sheets – floors of it were empty then, and nobody knew you were there weekend nights.

      • MR

        Sorry for the me-imposed distraction. It’s cause I have a lot of confidence in you and am not worrying about things working out for you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/glamor.com.au Ana Glamor Verbovski

      if things dont work out there is always something to look forward to – divorce party ! Strippers , waitresses , drinks , Relationship start with celebrations, lets end them the same way ! http://www.Glamor.com.au

    • Formerly known As

      Thanks for the timely post. I’m about to leave a relationship after 27 years (twenty-seven years!) and find out what it’s like to live alone again. Not looking forward to it. Trying to cheer myself up with thoughts of decorating a new apartment and adopting a new dog since my ex will keep our dog. Sigh. I can’t think of anything else positive about being alone.

    • So True

      Well there aren’t any decent women to meet for many of us men that are very seriously looking, and that adds to our loneliness as well. If many of us had been born much sooner, then we could had avoided this mess in the first place since many of us would had been married with a family of our own now. Well that certainly explains why our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles had very long marriages back then. Doesn’t It?