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Earlier this week I chatted with two new friends about the single life. One mentioned she’d only been on her own a few years while the other had now been single for almost 17.
I raised my hand. “Fifty years for me.”
The most-recently divorced friend asked, “How do you handle it? I get so lonely.”
“Well,” I replied, “eventually you just get used to it.”
That’s not to say I never feel the loneliness. The ache. But I learned how to deal with it, a day at a time, until that moment I realized it wasn’t so bad anymore. Eating meals alone is just what I do. Driving alone gives me time to think or sing really loud to cheesy 80s music, like ABBA or REO or Air Supply. I’ve even been known to celebrate small successes alone. (This usually involves ice cream.)
In fact, I’m at a place now where I actually look forward to being alone.
This would all be great if not for the fact that I know there’s a lot more going on here than me finally learning how to be content. No, this is about me doing what I’ve always tried to do: protect my heart. And there’s no safer place than in my little house. So I stay home and watch Castle reruns instead of going out.
All I need now are a few more cats and my journey to spinsterdom will be complete.
At least I realize it’s something I need to work on. Sometimes I force myself to get out of the house no matter how soft my slippers are or how many movies are loaded up on my DVR.
Here’s the problem, though: Going out means meeting new people.
Some of those people are guys.
Single, close-to-my-age guys. Guys I’m in danger of falling for because I’m female and, well, that’s what I do, whether I want to or not. And hopes rise only to be dashed again.
Sure there’s the possibility that this time will be different. But age is my enemy. How many times do you have to be disappointed before hope fades to hesitation and hesitation turns to bitterness, even despair? After all, I tell myself, isn’t it better to expect the worst than to constantly be let down?
I suppose the real question is, am I used to being on my own … or do I hide in my house to protect my heart from pain? And what am I willing to lose out on in order to keep from getting hurt?
Which reminds me of something C.S. Lewis wrote:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be
wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must
give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies
and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of
your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It
will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable
(The Four Loves).
Maybe enjoying my alone time isn’t such a great thing after all.
Maybe it’s okay to be broken.
Originally published on Sharyn’s blog: http://girlsnightin40.com/2014/04/04/alone/
For as long as she can remember, Sharyn Kopf had a dream: to be a writer of sweet little romances or exciting adventures of the heart. Of course, each would be inspired by her own glorious love story!
And yet decade after decade skipped by without a romance of her own. She rarely dated. No one kissed her or even held her hand. Turning 40 seemed to not only kill her dreams of marriage and family, but those of being a novelist as well.
But other dreams did come true. After studying for her bachelor’s in communications at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana, she spent several years as a newspaper reporter, then worked for almost a decade creating award-winning radio copy for Focus on the Family. Later, she was a marketing and public relations writer at Cedarville University (OH).
Most recently, Sharyn has made her living as a freelance writer and editor. Her work has included co-authoring/editing Coping with Traumatic Brain Injury: One Woman’s Journey from Death to Life with Patti Foster, writing and directing plays, writing and editing numerous articles, and editing a 400-page devotional. In February 2013, she won the Write Integrity Press One Hope Contest in fiction, which led to her first book contract.
Today, Sharyn still longs for her own love story. Her path toward publication, though, is at last going somewhere. Her first two books — one a novel, the other nonfiction — about surviving singleness after 40 will release in May. Full of honesty, humor and, yes, a little romance, these books will offer encouragement to others going through similar circumstances.
God has certainly taken Sharyn’s life in a direction she never imagined, but she’s learned to trust His heart of goodness toward her. And she often recalls what Jesus said in John 16:33 — “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In her spare time, Sharyn plays the piano, makes the best fudge ever, rages against unnecessary uses of the comma, and watches too much HGTV. She lives in Bellefontaine, Ohio, just five minutes from her favorite people in the world — her family.
Copyright 2014 AngelaJHerrington