One is the loneliest number…. Or is it???

Four people live in my house. Very rarely do I ever have the house completely to myself. My brother works third shift. He usually sleeps during the day. The rest of us are home in the evenings. I play poker at least once a week with 15-30 people I consider friends. We usually have a blast. I’m in an online chat group for writers. I consider all of those people friends, too. Some I know just from the group. Others I have gotten to know well enough we call each other on the phone just to say Howdy. You’ve heard me say before that people will come and go in our lives when we need them. So while I’m rarely alone, I am lucky enough to also rarely be lonely. Do you know the difference?

Lonely is when you have no one close and you’re sad about it. I don’t feel lonely often. I try not to put myself in a position to feel that way. I don’t go to restaurants by myself. I don’t go to the movies without a friend. Since the break-up of my marriage there have been other times I’ve felt lonely. I miss having the companionship of a partner. That closeness, both physical and emotional, being able to share things that you wouldn’t otherwise, knowing there is always that one person who will listen no matter what, those are the things that I miss. I’m still not sure I’m ready for another relationship, but I’m always watchful for that spark of attention.

Alone is simply without accompaniment. I don’t have a problem being alone. I will go out alone. Friday night has turned into my Me night. I’ll go do my personal shopping, browse Barnes & Noble, maybe sit somewhere and people watch with a notebook and pen in hand. Sometimes I need to be alone just to slough off the emotional debris of people I come into contact with through work. I meditate, which is a solitary pursuit. It helps me focus on myself, to shed that baggage, to be able to look honestly in the mirror.

There are other times when I need people. I need that interaction, the flow of conversation, the simple touch of someone’s hand on my shoulder. Having been assaulted twice before I was out of high school, I’m sometimes hesitant to get close to some people. I’ve tried really hard to overcome that. Trust is something that has to be earned. But once you have it, I am the touchy-feely type. People I consider friends will get hugs, not handshakes.

It’s important to know how to stand alone. To support yourself really is a major thing, especially if you’ve never been given the opportunity to do it. I’m learning that now. I live with three of my favorite relatives, but we are all very independent people. I think I like it that way.

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