One day in mid 1992, a nearly thirteen year old girl sat huddled in the smallest place she could find. Here, she found solace. She felt reasonably hidden from her abuser and as safe as the moment could allow her to feel. As she sat rocking, crying, arms wrapped around her knees, pulling herself as close together as possible, she reflected on her life.
"Life only sucks because I'm not in control of it," she told herself. Rocking, stroking her hair now in long comforting strokes, she thought, "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger. All I have to do is make it to 18, then I will have all the power and I can make myself happy, it doesn't matter what anyone else says, thinks, or does."
Fast forward twenty-one years.
The same girl, now a woman, divorced, with three children lays in bed reflecting on her life.
"Wow, I think I've let myself down. Yes, I've been in control all this time, but at the same time, I haven't. I let society tell me I needed someone else to make me happy, but look."
And look she did. She reflected on the previous weekend.
Through a number of circumstances, she found herself completely alone for the weekend. Only one other soul occupied her home for most of the weekend.
What did she do with herself?
She loved herself. Friday, Valentine's day, a day which she never really celebrated except in small ways as expected by others (an "I love you," here, a pack of Valentine's cards in school there), she decided that she needed to treat herself.
And treat herself she did. She took herself out to see--of all things--a love story. Sitting by herself in the theater, she laughed for 10 minutes straight and burst into random tears of joy and sorrow as a beautiful story unfolded on the screen before her. After the movie, she bought herself dinner, went home and watched an episode of her current show. As she headed to bed, she felt buoyant and alive. Overflowing with joy and happiness and a feeling of being loved. In a moment, she stopped and reflected on her feelings and the words surfaced to her mind, "I love me. I love being alone. I forget, so easily how much I love to be alone. Why? Because nobody loves me like I love me!!" And with that, she went to bed, smiling herself to sleep.
Over the course of the weekend, she went out and spent time with people, casual acquaintances whom she desired to know better and perhaps spend more time with. People with whom she had a good time, good conversation, good food. But at the end of it all, she returned home, alone.
But she did not feel alone.
And now, she remembers that day, all those years ago. She remembers promising to love herself, take care of herself, make herself happy. She remembers how she spent the first eighteen years of her life almost totally alone and hardly ever regretting it.
She remembers, too, all of the times where she has lain in her bed and cried for her loneliness. She remembers all of the times where she has felt that she is destined to walk the world alone. And in this moment, where she remembers all of this, she does not feel lonely. Nor does she feel sad.
Instead she feels powerful. Because she realizes she loves and is loved. She is surrounded by people: friends, family, lovers. Some she talks to nearly daily, some she talks to only when they remember to do so. But none of this means that she is lonely or unloved.
And in this feeling of power, she knows that it is her heart's earnest desire to live alone. Not in a state of never having company. Friends, lovers, family, these will always be welcome in her home for days at a time. But in the end, they will return to their space and her space will be her own.
Because no one loves her like she does and that's exactly the way she likes it.