You Probably Don’t Suck At Being Alone As Much As You Think

“With or without you, I will continue to be,” I wrote in a poem about my ex-boyfriend when we began dating. It was for my own benefit more than his: I wanted to reiterate to myself that I am a strong human being who is more than someone’s girlfriend. If our new relationship failed (which it did spectacularly), I wouldn’t be left with nothing; I’d be left with myself, and that would be something. That would be okay.

Two months into being emotionally abused and I forgot this mantra completely. He had successfully manipulated me into giving up my whole being. There was no Zoe left to speak of; there was only the shadow that played his caretaker, and that was exactly his aim from the start. I married my own wellbeing too closely to his because I have an unhealthy tendency to throw myself at my favorite people. He smelled that immediately and exploited the hell out of it.

The thought of being left alone, even for a few minutes, became utterly untenable to me. Already a dissociated person by nature, I felt like a ghost when I was left in a room by myself. By month three I wanted more than anything to end the torturous relationship, but the prospect of spending the indefinite future alone was terrifying. So I remained his “partner” much longer than my self-respect would have allowed, if he hadn’t torn it all away from me.

The line in my poem was no longer true. It felt like with or without him, I would continue not to be, so I might as well stay with him. I was a ghost with a boyfriend, which seemed like a better thing to be than a ghost with no one.

Thankfully, my wonderful therapist reminded me of the line from my poem. Three months ago, she said, I was able to shrug off the thought of being alone. Three months ago, I didn’t doubt that my future would play out successfully regardless of my relationship status. Three months ago, I wasn’t smitten with a toxic person.

So, frightened to my core, I eventually told him I was done. I had been waiting for my bone-chilling fear of loneliness to abate before I left him, but at a certain point, I knew it never would.

Driving a stake through the relationship felt like cutting deeper into an already open wound, which defied all my primal self-preservation instincts. I was taking a chance that things would get better for me once he was gone.

And that chance paid off. Only three days after the breakup, I started writing again for the first time in a year, reconnected with people I care about, and astonishingly, enjoyed my time alone.

Without relying on someone else to breathe for me, I could breathe for myself. I no longer had to fret over how soon I could see him again. I no longer had to sit around until he decided to call me. I could make my own schedule and embark on my own life without that awful, awful waiting.

So I did. I rebooted this blog, set to work on a memoir, found old friends, and stopped trying so hard to escape from my own head. Without a sour relationship to distract me, I fell back on my hobbies and passions, which have turned out to be extremely rewarding. They seemed so far away when I was dating him, but now they’re a part of me again, and I’m no longer his ghost.

4 thoughts on “You Probably Don’t Suck At Being Alone As Much As You Think

  1. Since I understant you battle depression, I have a joke that I hope will cheer you up.
    An honest peasant woman dies and goes to Heaven. Arriving there, she is shocked by what she finds. All the Saints were partying hard with all the whores and loose women. Outraged, she demands an explanation from Saint Peter. And Saint Peter replies:
    Not to deny men, a woman is created
    But to enjoy her life with all it’s
    A fool you were on earth, a fool you
    will remain in Heaven
    And since for all your life you were an
    honest peasant
    An honest peasant you’ll remain in
    And cleaning steables will become your
    job forever


  2. I hope you find my jokes funny.
    If you do, my collection is infinite.
    I have another religious one.

    Near the gates of a monastry, a loud screem is heard:
    -Brothers, I walk! I walk again with my own feet!
    -Tell us how the miracle has happened?
    -My car got stolen!


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