Not Alone

Humans are social beings and are designed to partner, to be part of a community. But that is not how it plays out for every chapter of our lives, is it?

I am the only solo person in my favorite restaurant bar, Malaspina, in Madrid. To my right are two couples engaged in conversation, one over sangria and the other red wine. There is a group of men sporting knee socks, tight t-shirts and huge shorts, their bald heads sunburnt to a crispy pink. One of these tourists (clearly they aren’t Spaniards, and also didn’t use enough sunscreen), keeps looking over his shoulder at me. A single woman here sticks out like, well… like a single woman. An older one even more so. I embrace this and wear my singleness and my age well. At least in my opinion.

I process the day’s events, thinking about the ex-pats I met and hung out with. Taking in the scent of pollo asado, patatas fritas, and the cacophony of life surrounding me in the small, crowded bar. I observe. I write. I am sitting at a table for four and wonder if I’m taking up too much space in this tiny place.

When I was younger, I was terrified of being alone. This fear led me to never eat out by myself and to make some poor relationship choices. I married before I was emotionally fit to be a lifetime partner. The ensuing divorce left me with a new and improved fear-based panic. My mantra was “I am so alone. Poor me.”

The worst bouts of spinning about this occurred in anticipation of each of my three children launching into their adult lives. I was pre-mourning the hole their departure would leave in my life. I feared the fear of being alone. And I knew I’d miss them terribly. Being an empty nester turned out to be less painful than thinking about it beforehand.

Empty nesting signified the end of the most beautiful experience of my life and the loss I felt reminded me of breakups with boyfriends, or when a friend you love moves far away.  I know I’m being a drama queen when I say, it was a death of sorts. So it goes with changes that bring feelings of loss of sharing life together, being needed and actively loved.

I learned to populate my nest with more of myself- words to paper, rich and loving relationships and a lot of self- love.  And my dog. He counts in this. I travel with a feeling of connection to all people, to the strangers in knee socks at the bar, (even though I want to direct them to the nearest Zara for a make-over), the couples drinking sangria, the sweet waiter who doesn’t seem to care that I’m a party of one at his table for four.

I am alone but plugged into the pulse of life all around me. And I’ve never felt more at peace.

How do you deal with the idea of being alone, or being single if you are in fact single? I’d love to know what you think as I continue on my journey here in Spain.

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