Just me, myself, and COVID
I didn't think I could do it.
Just be… Alone.
It's part of what kept me from leaving my toxic marriage sooner: the fear of being by myself scared me more than my own physical and mental wellbeing in the relationship I was actually in. And when I did finally get through the fear, I quickly fell into dating as a way to keep me occupied, to avoid what I was so afraid of: me.
Avoiding loneliness has made me a social butterfly for as long as I can remember, always having plans with friends and something to do, somewhere to be. Anywhere but alone with my own thoughts.
So when I started Grieve Leave this year, I made leaning into loneliness one of my biggest priorities. I want to learn to be at peace with my thoughts and feelings instead of avoiding them, and that means giving myself the time and space to be alone so I can get more comfortable with me.
My road trip across the country in February was my first big dose of solitude, and I loved the freedom of being only accountable to myself, completely on my own time for a week and a half.
My second dose of solitude? This one wasn't voluntary: 12 days of COVID isolation. While my alone time on the road trip was in the midst of an action-packed driving schedule across a dozen states, being by myself after being exposed and then being COVID-positive was…not that, exactly. It was a lot of quiet time on my couch. I'm so grateful that my symptoms have been mild (thank you, vaccines!)— I know things could've been so much worse.
Some days have been a little darker than others, but I only completely lost it in isolation once: when I had to spend the first night of Passover, my favorite Jewish holiday, alone, for the first time in my life. I decided to make the most of being COVID-positive on this sacred day, cooking for myself, putting out my special Passover plates and napkins. I was putting out place settings for my dogs at the dining room table, in complete peak-Millennial denial of what was about to happen, when I felt the tears coming. Before I had a moment to think, I collapsed on the floor, crying to myself, "This isn't how it's supposed to be…" My sweet dog dinner guests quickly came to comfort me, and I just let it all happen.
I leaned hard into how sad I felt in that moment. I let those griefy tears flow. And, you know what? I got up after a few minutes. I felt better for having taken the time and space to feel.
In a way, I'm grateful for this time alone as a proof point of the progress I've made. I'm not as afraid of my own thoughts as I once was, now that I'm four and a half months into Grieve Leave— I'm much more comfortable thinking about and feeling all of my feelings, grief included. I'm recognizing that I'm more compassionate with myself, I'm more patient with myself, and I'm more ok with me than I've ever been! That's an incredible feeling, and it's something I'm taking time to notice.
So, it turns out I can do this alone thing, after decades of thinking I couldn't. And I bet this is just the tip of the iceberg of what I'm capable of.