Love in the first person

This past Thanksgiving (and family reunion) my younger son Micah asked whether I was lonely. I know he feels concerned about me. He left home in September to start university several hours away; his older brother is studying even farther away on the east coast; and, my husband travels extensively on business.

My house used to buzz with energy. Because we have a finished basement, and a Ping-Pong table in our postage stamp backyard, we were Tribal Central for my sons and their many friends. These days it is often just me and my dog who rattle around a house that used to burst at the seams, but now feels extravagantly large.

But loneliness is not just a physical state of being alone. It can be a psychological one of being with someone who has become a stranger to you. It is easy to become an alien to ourselves when we have used others—our children, our spouse— as a crutch for our sense of self and our self-worth. And I was somewhat guilty of that.

I used to proudly introduce myself in the schoolyard as “Jake and Micah’s mom.” Now, a new generation of kids walks past my house to school every morning. I don’t know their names, and I don’t know their parents names either. Introducing myself, as “Jake and Micah’s mom”, would baffle them.

I may know the meaning of Micah’s question about whether I am lonely. Perhaps he wants to know, “Have I lost myself?”

I haven’t lost me. I have found me.

Because I often live alone, there is lots of white space around me. If I don’t cover it with big bold designs, it will blind me. Finding my purpose and passion is more critical now than ever before. If I become boring to myself, how can I live with that? And, how can I expect to entertain others?

Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous. —Carrie Bradshaw (Sex in the City, Season 6)

My relationship with myself has indeed been exciting and challenging. I am pushing myself harder than I have ever pushed myself before. For one, I write a lot—sometimes day and night—and discovering myself in a way I never imagined. I am evolving with a vision, voice and spirit that is uniquely mine. And it feels so damn good.

The more I am finding me, the more others are finding me too. I am deepening the relationships I have always valued, and forming new friendships that have swept me off my feet.

You can’t fake energy. Or passion. Or love.

Sue Nador hashes out expectations in the messy world of love. Follow her on Twitter: @Sue_Nador and her weekly blog The Relationship Deal.

Image(s): iStock