Strength and Independence Don’t Come Free
The women in my social circle have one major quality in common: they are all strong, independent women. Of course, this singular quality is actually more than the singularity I’ve implied. It is really a package deal, combining a multitude of features into one, single, powerful human being.
The fact that a woman, any woman is able to be strong and self-sufficient in a world which encourages anything but is a tribute to her all by itself. As one myself, I know it’s a constant challenge to stand up for myself when many people (and not just men) consider it unnatural and, to say the least, unpleasant.
Naturally, maintaining that strength comes at a cost which some of my friends manage to avoid. Those women found a mate who loves and accepts them as they are, and in most of the cases I’m aware of, it’s made for a union rich in love, commitment, and cooperation.
Strong Doesn’t Mean Wanting to Fly Solo Forever
But for many of my friends, being single has become a lifestyle. Some have jumped into the dating pool, finding a decent guy or two who can handle their pure, unadulterated self. But most have been burned a time or two by men who simply couldn’t handle the pressure of being with a woman who might just be stronger than them in some ways.
As a result, I’m not alone in reaching my 60’s still flying solo. Sure, most of my friends haven’t turned being single into an art form as I have, but we do share a common thread; loneliness.
Being strong doesn’t mean we don’t want someone we can lean on now and then. It simply means we don’t need someone to carry us all the time. A strong woman wants a partner, not a caretaker. And sometimes, that’s a lot harder to find.
Accepting the Desire for Companionship as Part of My Strength
At one time, I brushed it off saying: I don’t need anyone. I’m fine on my own.
But lately, as I watch my friends struggling to find someone to share some of their down time with, I realize I’ve been lying to myself, if only to find a way to accept that my chances of finding someone this late in my life are challenging at best.
I hear my friends talking about how sad and lonely they are, or watch them slipping into depression. They put on a brave face because that’s what they’ve always done. But when the mask slips and they let those who are both close and trustworthy in, the cracks show, and the loneliness embraces them in her cold, unsympathetic arms.
To be honest, I can’t imagine having someone else living in my house all the time. I’ve lived alone too long, and have large spans of time when I don’t want anyone talking to me or getting in my way as I wander from room to room talking to the cats. Still, I find myself wanting to believe someone out there could and would be able to adapt to my quirks, and I, to his.
Dealing With Loneliness In My Own Way
My friends and I deal with the loneliness in our own ways. I tend to isolate until I need human interaction. I steer clear of dating sites as I haven’t seen anything to recommend them in the few times I’ve given them a try.
They, on the other hand put themselves out there, date now and then, and keep the hope alive that one day, they’ll meet someone who will fit all the nooks and crannies of their personality and form the bond they seek.
In some ways, I feel I need to take a page out of the manual on relationship building I refer to for my business. From there I learned about the concept of positive indifference, and how off-putting desperation and neediness are to potential clients.
I think people are people, regardless of the situation, and those qualities are only appealing to someone who ultimately wants to take advantage of you. Sure, there’s a fine line between being so strong and independent that you come off as uncaring, and needy and desperate.
Using Positive Indifference in My Social Network Too
I think the key to the puzzle is in the words “positive indifference”. It’s not a “screw you if you don’t like me” attitude, but more of a “I enjoy your company but am OK if it’s not mutual” feeling. A kind of spark, but no pressure.
Unfortunately, as long as my friends and I succumb to loneliness, it’s hard to be positively indifferent. So we focus our attention on other things, keep busy, and try not to think. It works part of the time.
I think we tell ourselves that as much as we love our girlfriends, there’s something we just aren’t able to get from each other (and I don’t mean sex). There’s a feeling; a connection; a wantedness we don’t feel unless we’re someone’s one-and-only.
Long-Term Loneliness Takes Its Toll
I have to believe we can find a way past the neediness, the desperation, and the cold, empty feeling we call loneliness for lack of a better word. Though I haven’t found it myself, I have reached the point where I suffer from it less. Maybe I’ve just gotten used to being alone. I’ve been at it a lot longer than most, if not all of my friends.
Some think being alone for a couple of years is a long time. I can’t argue with them, because we can only view loneliness through our own lens. The amount of time I’ve been alone can be counted in decades. I’m not proud of it, nor am I ashamed. I’ve spent a lot of that time working on myself. Building a better me, as it were. And I’m pretty happy with the changes I’ve wrought.
Mapping Out a New Path
Sometimes, you have to take yourself to a place that seems sad and lonely because you can’t fix what’s broken in the middle of a crowd. You have to pull the pieces apart slowly and carefully, lay them out so you can see what you’ve got. Some pieces you might clean up, others might need some repair. A few might have outlived their purpose and need to be discarded.
As you sift and sort, you bring in new pieces you’ve acquired through living life, learning new things, and leaving old things behind. The space you open up when you discard some of the old pieces leaves room for new ones which are better suited to who and where you are now.
In some ways, I’ve been my own Pygmalion, creating my own ideal woman from the original parts plus a lot of others I’ve acquired on my journey. Doing it alone was, for me, the way it had to be, and probably why I’ve learned to adapt to that status.
Sometimes the Road is Only Wide Enough for One
That isn’t to say it’s my final resting place, so to speak. But I had to travel alone for awhile, else I’d have missed some important pieces I needed to pick up. I feel like I’m much more whole now, except for one thing.
My friends learned to interact socially; to attract the eye of men who were looking for companionship. In all the time I’ve spent alone, I never found that piece, that technique. So in some ways, I’m now operating at a disadvantage, at least if companionship is my goal.
As I watch and listen to the sadness of the women I love and respect, I have to face some hard questions myself. Am I really all that lonely alone? Am I willing to compromise in order to have another person in my life regularly? Can I learn some of the social skills I still lack?
I don’t have the answers to these questions. For now, I feel my place is loving and supporting my friends as they seek their own answers.
Finding Gratitude in All Things Great and Small
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the years I’ve spent alone exploring the person I was, and the one I wanted to become.
- I’m grateful for my friendships with strong, independent women, and all the dynamics that entails.
- I’m grateful for the pleasure I find in solitude, and my ability to be productive at odd hours, at least as others might see it.
- I’m grateful for love in all it’s forms.
- I’m grateful for abundance, friendship, connection, love, joy, solitude, introspection, innovation, inspiration, motivation, productivity, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats, and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward