How being alone is important in overcoming your fears of abandonment
By Mikaela Delos Santos, Publishing Editor
It feels like I’ve exhaled a great amount of my old self — the abandoned, the unloved, and the deprived parts of me, when I succumbed to the notion of being alone. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you don’t really notice it, until suddenly, your soul just feels lighter than before. This is how I felt when I finally realized that I wasn’t lonely anymore. Instead, I was alone. And while the word ‘alone’ sounds sad, to me it is solitude.
Solitude in our early 20s may sound like such a privileged luxury. This stage in our lives is when we make lifelong connections, jump start our career and live the responsible adult life we’ve always dreamed of. And, in doing all of those things, we tend to assume that we need people around us to make it happen. But, when they don’t end up in our lives, it feels as if our world just crumbled before us. I know I did.
Without dumping all of my childhood traumas and experiences, I’m pretty sure that my fear of abandonment had something to do with how I grew up. Since my parents were often away at work, my sister and I had nannies that would take care of us. I’ve had my own nanny from the day I was born until I was about 10 years old. Over the years, our nannies would come and go— not because my sister and I were bad kids, but more so because they also had their own children and families to go back to. I didn’t really think much of it until during one of my counseling sessions with a therapist. She told me that having different nannies and not having my parents around during the most essential years of being nurtured has affected the way I hold on to people and relationships.
She told me this after I cried and cried over my failed one-month and seven-day relationship with a man I met on Bumble. It changed the way I perceived my loneliness.
Yes, I was lonely. I realize that now looking back. Although from afar it didn’t seem like it— I was around people a lot and was pretty social. Every time I made a friend though, there were times when I felt the need to force an immediate friendship. I think it was because I wanted everyone to know that I have lots of friends and that there are people who love me.
That was another thing— love. It’s such a minuscule thing. It never really felt real to me in any way, shape or form, may it be romantic or platonic. I never really knew what it felt like or what it was supposed to evoke in me. And, it made me think, has anyone really loved me?
That was when I truly realized my loneliness. In the physical realm, I am blessed with people around me. But somehow, it also feels like I am on my own— alone.
I didn’t want to be alone. I perceived companionship as a person I could be with everyday. I knew my friends’ boundaries, and I realized they had their own lives. And so, I found myself swiping through endless men on dating apps to avoid the feeling of loneliness. It was a cycle— swipe right, flirt, go on a date, slowly fade contact. If we both feel a spark and feel lucky, we’d probably end up becoming a ‘thing’. But, after a bunch of dates and ‘things’, I realized I was going through this cycle mindlessly. I wasn’t quite sure what snapped me into realization. Either way, I’m glad I did.
I hated the feeling of having to give time for myself. But, I knew I needed it to heal my soul. I made sure to spend some time looking for who I am and what I like. I took away distractions like social media. I made sure to make my ‘wants’ a priority alongside my ‘needs.’ I wanted a Nintendo Switch to play Animal Crossing, and so I got that. I wanted to make my own sweaters, so I got some yarn and crochet hooks. I wanted to try training in martial arts, so I decided to sign up for jiu-jitsu classes. My wants started out small and shallow but it brought such a deeper fulfillment into my life.
As I slowly got myself five-stars on my Animal Crossing island, finished my first ever toque (I’m still working on a sweater), and earned my second white stripe on my white belt, I came to the conclusion that I did all of this with my companion—myself. I finally felt what love feels like, and it was quite nice knowing that I am my own first love.
In being comfortable with being on my own, I found friends through a video game and aggressive arm-locks. Heck, I even met the man of my dreams. All of this wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t venture through the dark unknown of ‘loneliness’. And, if you are also going through what I went through, know that you are not alone.