(Although I have been happily married for many years now, I do understand being alone and staying single to recover. Please read my introduction, Ripped from my Heart, and my story Winter Sun if you wish to read about my experiences)
Are you single or alone? Being single by choice is much different from feeling alone.
Here are some thoughts. Remember these are just ideas to start you thinking about what is right for you!
I am going to use Valentine’s Day as an example of a difficult day to get through when single or alone:
1. Spend some time thinking of what you really want or need.
For example – you may feel the need to be alone for a while but are feeling pressured to be “normal” (in a relationship).
So many of the “how to be single” for Valentine’s Day Guides stress taking action to make yourself more “marketable” so you will not stay single. They clearly take the attitude that being single is WRONG and there is something WRONG with you if you are single and you better do something about it.
I believe being single can be the best choice, whether for a few months, or for life. Only you can decide what is best for you at this moment.
Sometimes we are alone because of the terrible tragedies of death and divorce. We need time to grieve and find ourselves again before starting a new relationship. Being part of a couple means our view changes. No longer is it: “What do I want/need/dream of?” Now it becomes, “What do we want/need/dream of?” And the reverse is true. When the relationship ends, we need to establish what we want/need/dream of – now that we are single again.
Every few years, we should take some time to review what we thought we wanted and determine what we want now. For example, I always encourage young people to travel. My Granny Elsie and Granddad worked hard all their lives so they could travel when they retired. Granddad died, and Granny Elsie was too ill to travel. She always supported me to follow my dreams, whether they made money or not! She proudly hung my first paintings on her walls when I started painting in my late 30s.
2. Be creative in deciding how you want to spend the day.
One of easiest methods of not dealing with the pressure from other people is to tell everyone you are sick, stay home with the phone off, and then go back into the world after Valentine’s Day is over.
Even if you cannot stand up to other people who tell you what to do with your life, alone and in private, you can tell yourself you have the right to make your own choices and at the moment, being single is the right choice for you.
3. Find other people who also choose to be single at the moment.
Or even people who are alone and do not want to be. Be careful not to plan a “pity party” with people who want to moan about being single. Plan fun events. Go out to a movie if you worry about having to talk too much.
Check for Single Awareness Day activities in your area. You might find a new friend with similar feelings and enjoy some time together.
4. Check with your Church or local volunteer organization to see where you can useful.
This also gives you an excuse to refuse any well-meaning match makers trying to set you up with someone you do not want to meet! Volunteering to take the place of someone who wants to be home with their loved one, is a wonderful thing to do. Also consider offering to babysit for family or friends who plan to celebrate Valentine’s. You could help the kids make Valentine’s cards, enjoy wonderful kid’s movies or even teach them an old game like UNO.
In all these suggestions, you need to be honest with yourself about what you need. Not what someone else thinks you need, or your family tells you to want.
Sit down and fantasize about the best Valentine’s Day you could have and then figure out how to make it happen.
Let’s imagine a day:
First – let’s sleep in. Being single should mean we can plan to stay in bed as long as want. Maybe even read the newspaper with breakfast.
For this, we need to buy the paper the night before and set everything ready for breakfast. Leave a tray on the counter, set the coffee machine, pre-cook the bacon so it can just be warmed in the microwave, pan ready for scrambled eggs, butter in a dish so it is spreadable, and the jam at the front of the fridge where we can find it. Or just indulge in croissants or pastries with coffee.
Second – Take our second cup of coffee into the living room and open our Valentine’s cards and presents. Maybe you have some from other people.
I love this card from Carlton Cards – from way back in 1997!
I know you will think I am quite mad, but I make and buy cards for myself and make sure I have the things I want for special occasions. Yes, my family and friends do send me cards, presents and flowers but I go out a few days before and buy a few things for myself. This way, if someone forgets, I do not get upset. I already have flowers, chocolates, and cards I have given myself. I am not feeling needy or dependent on other people to make me feel wanted or loved. And when I do receive cards and presents from other people, it adds to my happiness. I love sharing happy times with other people. If I have a good day, I want as many people as possible to share in those good feelings.
I made this card using the Create and Print site. I love being able to make personalized cards – like Happy Birthday Aunt Joan (waves to Aunt Joan in Florida!!)
Third – spend the afternoon enjoying a movie you like, playing games on-line, or whatever is your special indulgence. I love a good romance novel, jigsaw puzzles or a beautiful opera and some time to quilt. Remind yourself : this is MY time to do what I want.
Dinner – should be something you love. Whether you cook for yourself, order in, or stop by your favorite deli the night before for an easy microwave dinner, sit down and enjoy your food with a good book or movie.
Caution: Do not overspend your budget.
Here is my list for a special day: (total is about $35)
REAL BUTTER croissants for breakfast
2 cards I really love and wish someone had sent me – so I am sending them to me!!
a dozen roses (I get mine for about $14 but you if can only find really expensive ones – try carnations – they are usually very inexpensive and last a long time)
5 of my favorite chocolates – the really good ones made with real cream. I love coffee toffee with dark chocolate.
Sometimes I find a cheap DVD of a favorite old movie or rent one.
The important thing is to get the things YOU like.
In a relationship, you need to let the other person know what you want and need. (I strongly disagree with the idea “if he/she really loved me – he would know what I want” and other silly games people play rather than being honest) Sometimes my husband and I surprise each other with special gifts, but usually we discuss what we want for birthdays and special occasions. Remember my sweet husband bought me a new camera when my old one died. Officially, it is my Christmas and Birthday present, although he gave it to me as soon as it was delivered.
Taking care of yourself on these special days lets you try out different ways to celebrate. You will be able to tell your loved one, should you decide to start a relationship with someone, what you want, because you know what pleases you.
My grandchildren often complain I give them too many choices, whether it is cookies and ice cream, or what fabric they want for something I am sewing for them. Sadly, I had a student, who did not know what she wanted as no one let her decide. Her life was chosen for her by her parents. After working with her (she is a gifted artist) for several years, we were able to have a lot of fun doing projects she loved and having her favorites, coke floats and Oreo cookies for after school snack on the days she came for her lessons.
Remember, if you want other people to remember you on special days, make sure you remember them. Send out cards in the mail, send e-cards to say “thinking of you”, or share funny items from the Internet. Always remember how busy some people are. They may think of sending a card but just not get it done. Try and be grateful for what you do have, and make the effort to give yourself the other things you need.
I hope this gives you some ideas and a place to start. As I often tell people: the only person you can be sure will be there when you die – is you. No matter how much someone else loves you, they may die before you.
In the end, you have to live with the decisions you make. No matter what you decide to do, someone else is not going to like it. I believe if you are a better and happier person because you make the right decisions for you, and take the time to look after yourself, the world will be a better place. You will have the strength and energy to help other people in need because your needs have been met.
Jesus often went off alone to pray, rest and recover from the tremendous burden He carried during the three years of His ministry. He can be our Guide and Example in caring for ourselves.