There is some debate as to whether Greta Garbo actually said ‘I want to be alone’ in the MGM film GRAND HOTEL. She is famously quoted as saying : I never said, ” I want to be alone”. I only said ” I want to be left alone . There is all difference”. Pedantic or not, Garbo knew that the devil was in the detail. Being alone, being lonely and being isolated are all different strands of the seemingly same string. Tried and tested recovery material states that an addict alone is bad company. I guess that is because the ego as companion can weave many tales from the committee in the head, while convincing you of the value of self-sufficiency.
Corinne Sweet in her book OVERCOMING ADDICTION writes an excellent piece on this.
” Isolation is the root of all addiction. We can feel that nobody understands us, nobody really cares and that we have to fight our corner on our own. Isolation means retreating into ourselves, not believing that anyone is out there for us, and that everyone else had it easy. When you give up your addictions, for good, you necessarily have to give up isolation. This means looking around yourself and asking for help. This can be terrifying, especially if you have always done everything for yourself and don’t believe other people are there for you. You may feel that other people could not cope with your needs ( or deny them altogether ) because you don’t want to risk being disappointed. You will only stay free for good if you decide to give up your isolation – no matter how desirable it seems to hang on to it – if you ask for, seek out, even demand, continuing positive support. “
For those who can afford to be alone without self harming, eating slabs of chocolate in one go or risking boredom might suggest that recovering obsessives & compulsives aren’t safe to be left alone, when in fact the recovery process teaches the difference between being alone, feeling lonely or teenage bedroom isolation. If only the rest of society has access to such learned material we would all benefit. In a relationship men are often accused of ” being moody ” when half the time they want to be left alone, need space to be alone and can’t express it so they just clam up. The most healthy relationships have a holiday period built in so each partner can holiday alone, be it a week or a weekend. To most people that’s not ” being in a relationship “. What’s the point of giving your ALL to someone and they want to lie on a beach ALONE. It’s not what they signed up for.
Well the point of this interdependent arrangement is that we do need space alone to re-find ourselves, to create courage sometimes to tell our truth to ourselves first, and then the partner. Every relationship needs air in it, but many are in a unsteady relationship because of fear of being alone, which is another kettle of fish – a kettle called codependency. This misguided vision of romantic love works well until they leave you, then you have to play the hunting game all over again to feel whole. So the prospect of traveling alone, living alone or working alone is as fearful as a gambler missing the bet..
So the thread of today’s blog is to recall the last time you went somewhere on your own.
It took me ages to go to the cinema or theatre alone. It’s essential to get rid of the johnny no mates concept, people are so absorbed in their own self obsession that they aren’t interested in who is sitting in row D. Trust me. Learning to be with yourself alone, to give yourself attention, to use the space for solitude or meditation of any kind will serve you well in future. Taking a train ride to the nearest stretch of water, kicking stones on a beach or witnessing ducks play is all part of your further education.
Now if you will excuse me, I vont to be alone.