I live alone, though not by choice. My husband passed away two years ago, automatically changing my status to widow. After he died, I picked myself up and moved to the South of France, where I could be near my youngest son and his family.
I’ve always tried to make lemonade when life has given me lemons. However, being widowed was more like the delivery of a truckload of lemons rather than one or two in my grocery bag. With so many lemons, I was forced to make lemonade, lemon meringue pie, lemon cookies, and lemon curd cheesecake.
Over the last twenty-four months and even now, I miss my husband terribly. Yet I’ve come to appreciate some of the benefits of living alone.
I have identified nine pluses of being alone.
1. Being alone doesn’t mean being lonely. Of course, there are moments when I am lonely. But I’ve also come to enjoy my free time. Since many of my favorite hobbies are solo ones—such as writing, sewing, or experimenting with recipes—being alone is made easier for me. My list of projects is endless, and working on my projects is exciting.
2. Being alone is a whole lot better than being partnered with the wrong person. Being trapped in a marriage that made me unhappy would be like a prison sentence. I will never be tempted to settle for someone just to say I have a partner.
3. Being alone gives me flexibility in how I use my time. If I decide to get up and sew for an hour before I fix breakfast, I have no one waiting for me at the table. If I decide to rearrange furniture at two in the morning, I have no one telling me to get back into bed. And I am free to experiment with new and different foods without worrying if my husband would eat it.
4. Being alone is not simply a temporary period between my last relationship and the next one. Instead, I’m busy exploring how to live happily and productively in a way that I assume will be permanent. Maya Angelou said, “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.” Her statement is a good reminder that being “just me” is all that’s required.
5. Being alone doesn’t mean I’m without a social life. I am staying in touch with my US friends and building new relationships in France. Thanks to Zoom, email, the internet, and free international phone service, I can be as sociable as I want. And should I run out of friends to talk to, I can join an online group.
6. Being alone allows me to focus on my health needs, whether it’s drinking more water each day or stretching my creaky back every morning. I can fix food and eat as my body requires without considering my partner’s dietary requests or schedule.
7. Being alone allows me to focus on personal growth. Diane Von Furstenberg, a Belgian fashion designer, said, “The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. Because no matter what happens, you will always be with yourself.” She reminds us that our happiness does not depend upon another; instead, we find happiness within.
8. Being alone has caused me to appreciate the wonderful times my husband and I shared during our thirty-year marriage. He’s gone, but the memories remain. I was fortunate to find the right partner and enjoy his company for three decades. My appreciation for this good luck lifts my spirits.
9. Being alone has forced me to become more self-reliant. I have to deal with whatever life throws at me. I don’t have someone on whom I can offload my problems. Robert Schuller said, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” Maybe that’s always been true, but now I know it to be true.
I would not wish widowhood on my worst enemy. And upon reflection, I can see that before I became a widow, my responses to my friends who had lost their spouses were shallow. Until I went through the experience, I did not understand its enormous impact on the remaining spouse.
I do not have any idea what the future holds. All I can do is keep making lemon drinks and baking lemon desserts. Anais Nin said, “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it.” However much we might wish to do so, electing a particularly happy period in our lives and remaining in it is impossible; our only choice is to keep changing as our circumstances change. With my eyes wide open, I will walk into the next stage of my existence and then the next.
Is anyone in the mood for a glass of lemonade?
(Cover photo by Pesce Huang on Unsplash)