For nearly 10 years, Marlon and I have been inseparable. We don’t eat at separate times, and we never sleep apart. We have been attached at the hip, and we’ve gotten too used to being around each other. So naturally, when news broke that Marlon wouldn’t be working the usual 9-5 job anymore, my anxiety kicked into overdrive. I’d have to get used to sleeping and waking up alone at times and spending some of my weekends alone. As a person who isn’t a huge fan of change, I dreaded this. I depend on routines and patterns to maintain a level of stability, so changes that disrupt these patterns really stress me out. Add the fear of being alone on top of that, and everything would be completely out of wack.
Well, he’s had this schedule for over 6 months now, and while it still sucks that our schedules don’t sync up and we spend less time together, I’ve learned that being alone isn’t as bad as I thought.
Being Alone Before
As a pre-teen and teenager, I’d often be in the house alone. My mom would go bowling in the league or hang with friends while my dad would run errands, play football, or work.
I got used to being alone pretty quickly. In fact, I looked forward to it. There was something so comforting about it — the quiet hum of the fish tank, the slight click of the refrigerator now and then, and the subtle sound of the apartment building shifting. I’d get on my laptop and write or watch my dad’s DVDs until someone came home.
Being Alone After
After Marlon and I started dating, there weren’t many opportunities to be alone. Before, I would hang out with friends and have fun, but I was always so excited to get back home and recharge my social battery. I never felt this with Marlon; my social battery never felt empty around him, and this hasn’t changed for the past 10 years. Because of this, I no longer knew how to be by myself anymore. I grew to hate the silence of the house, and I hated being alone with my thoughts.
Now that I’ve had time to adjust to Marlon’s new schedule, I’ve gotten used to being alone. Notice that I said “alone” and not “lonely” because there certainly is a difference. I used this as an opportunity to plunge myself into self-discovery mode and figure out what works for me. When Marlon works on the weekends or weekday nights, I notice that I love to clean the house and cuddle on the couch with Sophie while I watch a movie or play a video game. Doing something productive like cleaning or getting ready for work the next day makes it easier for me to have fun afterward while I wait for Marlon to come home.
Anxiety about being alone was simply fear of the unknown. I no longer remembered how to be alone anymore, so I didn’t know how I would handle it. My struggles with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks didn’t exist until after I met Marlon, so he’s always been there to help me through it all. I had no clue what I’d do if I had a panic attack without Marlon around. However, with patience and effort, we adjusted and figured out what worked.
This new schedule seemed like a punishment because it constantly changes to an even worse schedule every three months, but we found a way to grow together with even less time together than before. Through it all, I regained my independence and learned to be comfortable in my solitude.
“Find company within yourself and you’ll never spend a day alone. Find love within yourself and you’ll never have a lonely day.” – Connor Chalfant