Before my current relationship started, I had been single for 8 months, living on my own for 2 months and until this year, I had NEVER lived alone. Technically, I had an apartment of my own until June of last year but the amount of time I spent there was limited. I didn’t know what it meant to be alone and actually enjoy it. I equated being alone with loneliness and sadness. In my mind, being left alone meant no one cared about me enough to want to spend time with me. Everyone had better things to do than to hang out with me. My brain told me I was useless and unworthy of anyone’s time or effort. Never mind the fact that I had a family who loved me and a boyfriend at the time. If left alone for any length of time, my mind began to sing the same old song that no one loved me. I was a FAILURE.
Being alone actually contributed to my mental breakdown last summer that landed me in the hospital. After a fight with my boyfriend, I spent an entire weekend locked in my apartment, alone and crying. That Monday morning, I called my mom inconsolable and suicidal. I can’t say that having someone around would have prevented my breakdown completely but being left alone for 3 days certainly didn’t help.
After my hospital stay, I moved back in with my mom, where I was seldom left alone for longer than a few hours for the next month. My mom checked on me when she was at work and got my brother and nephews to stay with me when she went on a cruise for a week. Alone time was my enemy and my idle mind was the devil’s playground.
However, through hard work with my therapist, I began to identify the thinking patterns that led to my fear of being alone and combat them. I began to find things to occupy my time when I was alone to keep my mind from wandering. I started changing the way that I thought about the word “alone”, the way I defined it.
I replaced alone, sadness, and loneliness with solitude, peace, and freedom.
My boyfriend (we’ll call him Bae ;-)) and I have been dating for exactly 39 days (but who’s counting right?) and we have seen each other 27 of those days and spoken via phone or video chat all but 2 of those days. The only times we didn’t speak and/or see each other have been when I was on a boat in the middle of the ocean. (Yeah, I know the old folks warn against spending so much time with a person, especially a new relationship, because it is so easy to get caught up in it and lose sight of yourself in the process but us young folks don’t listen anyway right?)
Bae does a fast once a month only allows him to use his phone for emergencies for week and instead spend his free time with God, in prayer and studying God’s word. It worked out that his fast for March happened while I was on a 7 day cruise, so it didn’t much matter how much time he had available to talk to me. But when Bae told me on Sunday, that he was starting his next fast on Monday, I flipped (wrong reaction I know but stay with me). We had seen each other more than half the days and spoken almost everyday of our relationship. What do you mean you want to go 6 days without seeing or speaking to me?!? Reluctantly (and with an attitude), I agreed to give him his space to partake in what he felt called to do.
Today is day 3 of that fast and although I miss him like crazy, I have to say it has been so REFRESHING!! I forgot what it feels like to come home to my empty apartment with an entire evening stretched out in front of me filled with nothing but whatever I want to do. Whether that’s sleeping, taking a long, hot shower, reading, journaling, binge-watching Netflix, taking a walk, going out for a drink with friends. I forgot the feeling of peace and freedom that comes with seeking solitude and actually enjoying it. What I thought would be a week of being lonely, staring at the phone, and sulking has actually turned into a week of enjoying the silence, treating myself, and loving on my Jesus.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am still looking forward to Saturday when I will get to see Bae and enjoy his company again, but this week has turned out way differently than I planned it, in a good way.
I was reminded yesterday during my quiet time of journaling and reflection of the following bible verse:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
It was God’s gentle reminder that I have found peace in Him and that no matter the struggles that the world throws at me, I shall remain at peace. Y’all don’t know how hard I fought for this peace and I intend to hold on to it for a lifetime.
Thanks Bae for following the Lord’s call into this fast so that He could remind me how hard I worked for this peace and freedom. Now here’s to hoping Saturday comes quickly!