Category Archives: Self-discovery

Who suffers most is I …

I cause displeasure to the one

I most desire to gratify,

And from displeasure that I give,

The one who suffers most is I … 

Such beautifully stirring words written many years ago by Juana Inés de la Cruz –   acclaimed in her time as the “Phoenix of Mexico”, America’s tenth muse; a generation later she was forgotten.

Sor Juana Inés de la  Cruz was a 17th century nun, self-taught scholar and acclaimed writer of the Latin American colonial period and the Hispanic Baroque. She was also a staunch advocate for women’s rights.

 


Living alone…and loving it….

Living alone always sounds so good, doesn’t it? You’d have complete control over the remote control. You could always finish the last of the cereal without feeling guilty about it. You could walk around naked every morning. The possibilities are endless. When you live with someone, their very presence sets some kind of limitations on our behavior. I have to admit, living alone might be liberating but it can also make us behave like an insane person. Lol But I don’t care…I am embracing my quirkiness.

Does anyone remember that “Sex and the City” episode where Carrie explains to her friends the concept of secret single behavior — those little things we do when we’re all alone that we’d never do around someone else? Yes, the single-occupant home can be a breeding ground for mild eccentricities. Think of Claire Danes’s C.I.A. employee in “Homeland,” who turns her Georgetown one-bedroom into a control bunker for an ad hoc spying operation. Or Kramer on “Seinfeld,” washing vegetables in the shower.

When I find myself bored, and feeling like a fat couch potato, I tend to start running in place during TV commercials. I sometimes start talking in conversational Spanish to myself. I leave my bras on the door knobs. I also tend to wear men’s pajama bottoms. My refrigerator basically consists of Pepsi, cheese, ice cream. I subsist largely on tuna, crackers, microwavable popcorn and M&Ms…sometimes on cereal. I can go weeks and not actually have a full meal when I am home. I don’t adhere to regular meals nor conventional meal times. I sometimes find myself going to the kitchen 6 times a day and find little items to munch on, grazing on nuts, chips.

To me, there are so many benefits of living alone including the freedom to come and go as we please; the space and solitude to recharge in a plugged-in world; kingly or queenly domain over the bed; control over the TV remote. Being solo, I am also free to indulge in my somewhat odd behavior and habits…that “secret single behavior” I tend to get up periodically in the middle of the night, and munch on a few plain M&Ms; sometimes I stand naked in the kitchen at 2 a.m., eating peanut butter from the jar and gulping Pepsi from the bottle; I love eating cold pizza in the middle of the night / early morning. I can go days, weeks and let my whole apartment fall apart on me; work 24/7 or just be lazy and no one cares, no one complains! I sometimes practice what I want to say or write out loud, and my little dog, looks at me like he’s actually listening. I wouldn’t discuss what I’m writing with my dog if someone were around.

It’s a difficult thing to adjust when I have company over or when I go to someone else’s house. So I seldom do. I feel so overwhelmed and anxiety sometimes makes me turn down invitations and stay home…alone. Crazy, persistent thoughts wander in my head… “I’ve got to share this room with other people? We have to organize showers? I have to actually comb my hair?”

I have basically been living on my own since I was 17 and loving it. I seldom feel lonely nor fearful….what does get to me at times, is paying all the bills by myself. Sometimes, I imagine how nice it would be to split the Internet or electricity bill.

Living alone affords me a true chance to recharge. I look around me, and I understand we predominantly live in a society built around extroverts, who get their energy from being around other people. But I have always been an introvert – and I need to build my energy and strength by being alone.

I think I am more surprised when some people don’t consider me an introvert. They think I am outgoing and enjoy being around people. But in reality, I really prefer to spend time with my dog. I would love to find just one special person but I will always need time to myself at the end of the day to regroup. Living alone allows me to build my energy back up so that I can go and spend it with others. Even for work.

Living alone isn’t the same thing as living lonely. I enjoy my own company — so much so that sometimes I fib that I have plans on a Saturday night so I can stay home for a date with my DVR and a glass of red wine and box of chocolates. But when I am feeling a need for connection, I reach out for it. For me that can be as simple as walking downstairs, go to the bakery, get my hair or nails done. It can also mean meeting up with a friend — one who lives alone or not — for a quick catch up.

I need and love my own time for self-discovery. In my experience, so many people are afraid of being totally alone. But I’ve learned to really enjoy my own company. When I first started living alone, I had this weird discovery that I could go a whole day without using my voice — sometimes I’d hit the grocery store and buy something I didn’t need just to test that I could say “thank you” to the cashier. But then I discovered something far easier — I started talking to myself. Yes, and talking to my dog has taken on a whole new meaning.

All people have private selves – different at-home selves that are different – in big and small ways – from the self they present to the world, to work colleagues, etc. I do believe though that people who live alone spend a good deal more time exploring them and enjoying their private self.

Love…A sense of independence, self reliance, decreased stress and responsibility. Call me selfish, there’s something so liberating about knowing that at the end of the day I can come home and not have to worry about the needs of anyone else. No one will have left a dirty dish out (well, except maybe me) or the cap off the toothpaste, or the toilet seat up.

I do think people who prefer to live alone, must have good management skills. At times, exercise extreme self-control. Otherwise, I would be a fat, out-of-work alcoholic.

What sometimes worries me is that I am too set in my ways. Concerned that my quirky habits won’t be accepted by others. That I may never feel comfortable living with someone. It would be too difficult. I don’t think I can take the quirks back….nor do I want to. The longer I live alone, the less flexible I become. I am a light sleeper and I can see sleeping with someone on a daily basis could prove to be an issue. I think if I were to ever fall in love again, and want to try living with that person, would need to find a home with double master bedrooms and bathrooms….and don’t even get me started on closet space! When and if I decide to share my living quarters, I would definitely need to be with someone who has lived alone, also. So we can commiserate and help each other re-socialize and un-quirk. 🙂


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