Lyndsay shares her first entry to her Solo Living Diary. Living alone was not a choice, and after a painful relationship breakup, her living alone experience started with being heartbroken and soon after, the pandemic struck. One year on, Lyndsay shares how far she has come in her living alone journey and how much things have changed.
Well, January marks my one year anniversary since I bought my house and started living alone. Ten months of this experience has been during the pandemic. There have been high points and low points. Moments of sadness I want to release out into the universe and moments of clarity I wish to hold onto forever.
But let’s start at the beginning.
I didn’t choose this; I didn’t choose to be in my thirties and living alone. Living alone was never part of my life plan. I was the victim of circumstance, of decisions I had no part in, of someone deciding they just didn’t love me anymore.
However, amidst the emotional chaos surrounding a breakup, I realised moving back home to live with my parents full-time made me feel trapped. I needed the space to grieve without someone asking me if I was okay. I wanted to be able to wallow in my misery where no one could see and to cry whenever I felt the need to.
This led me to deciding that what I needed was to buy a house by myself.
It was a stressful and gruelling process that anyone who has bought a house knows well and to top it off, I was angry at the world because I had no one to share the experience with. No one to help shoulder the frustrations and alternatively no one to share the joy. On the day I completed, there were no pictures taken of me with my keys by my new front door, excited to be embarking on a new journey. Instead, I kept the fact I had bought a house very private and didn’t post anything on social media. Friends and family told me how proud I should feel of myself as a single woman able to buy my first home. All I felt was numb.
This wasn’t my first home, not really. My first home had been with my previous partner. It had been too early in our relationship to buy together, but I was with him through it all. The highs and lows, helping him decorate until eleven at night. Picking carpets and furniture together, laughing when things didn’t go quite right and taking pride in our hard work when they did. When I bought my house, it felt like I was betraying the home and the memories we had built together.
Then, just as I was starting to get used to living alone, the pandemic hit.
I took the first lockdown as an opportunity to submerge myself in a well of misery, pushing those who were close to me away. Lockdown provided me with a lot of time to be introspective, which is not all that great when you are not happy with yourself, or the situation you are currently in.
For a long time, I wore my pain like a suit of armour, keeping all my grief inside while not letting anyone else penetrate the barriers I put up. I was more than prepared to battle with anyone who told me I needed to move on and find someone new. I ate food with no real nutritional value, didn’t wash my hair that often and generally just couldn’t be bothered with myself or anyone else. I didn’t care if I put on weight, I never planned to open my heart to anyone ever again, so what did it matter what I looked like.
Surprise, surprise, living like this actually made me more miserable.
It wasn’t until July that I finally turned a corner. July marked a year since the breakup, and I spent the whole month ticking off all the anniversaries of the different things that had happened in the wake of our split. One year since I picked up my stuff, the last time we spoke and so on. I binge-watched so much Netflix, that honestly, the month was a bit of a blur.
I can’t quite pinpoint when exactly this moment of clarity happened, but I started to feel the unhappiness I was carrying around, was more dead weight than a suit of armour. One morning in early August, I sat down at my computer and just started writing. The pain and sadness pouring out of me like a wave. All of a sudden, I felt lighter, like I had finally let go of something that had been twisting me up inside.
The more I wrote, the more I wanted to be present in my own life again. I started spending time looking after myself. Instead of watching tv, I took steps to overhaul my diet and slowly began putting myself back together piece by piece. I deleted everything and everyone off my phone and social media that was connected to my past relationship. This wasn’t out of anger or pettiness, but from the need for a clean break. To be able to start a new chapter, I knew I needed to be able to close the previous one.
Five months on, not much has changed with the pandemic, but I have changed completely.
Writing has taken me on an emotional journey giving me the ability to better understand myself. I can say I am happier with myself now than I was in my past relationship; and if I’m honest, probably more than I have ever been before in my life. Not a better kind of happy, just a different, more contented one. The last year has taught me that while I live by myself, I am not alone. Living alone, is not the same as being alone and I now revel in my solitude rather than drowning in my loneliness.
I have learnt how to put myself first, instead of thinking that the key to my own happiness is making someone else happy. I now understand I alone, am responsible for my own happiness and will only let someone share in that responsibility if they are happy to reciprocate in kind. As a close friend said to me recently, “Sometimes, the hardest journey is the most rewarding one”.
When I look back on my relationship now, I think he gave me all he was capable of at the time. I still feel the pain of not really understanding why our relationship came to an abrupt end, but I wish him no ill. Though I do wish he occasionally feels my absence, as keenly as I, still at times, feel his.