The Solo Experiment: What One Woman Learned about Living Alone

All of my life, I lived with people: family, friends of family, friends who seemed like family, even several different families. I had therefore learned a lot about tolerance, my own willful need to have control; harmony was scarce, and compromise could be daunting.  I confess, I always believed that living alone was the ultimate paradise, and a symbol of the ideal American woman. 

Over the years, I learned that living with others required some basic rules of engagement: Do your part. Shut your mouth. Ask for help. Don’t complain. Try to have fun. These were things I had mastered eventually. 

During those years, I had fantasized about living alone. Oh I did. I imagined the gorgeous planes of solitude. I pictured the hours of quiet and the freedom of nudity, the naughtiness of leaving a mess, the righteousness of something maintained! 

To be alone would be so very lovely. 

I could dance to whatever I desired. I could have lovers, and no one would know. I could binge on absurdly stupid programs if I so deemed it.

No one would interrupt my calls, or question my motives.

No kids, no partner, no nothing. Just me.

I knew I would be okay too. I was smart and brave after all.  I had been Head of Household for much of my life already. I had been raised with obscene levels of self-reliance since I was a small child. I was also generally healthy.

How could being alone in an urban artist loft be difficult? There were people in their own compartments rising six floors above me. Certainly, we would be friendly. There was a park across the street. Surely, we would establish community

Despite a Covid quarantine, I moved into a place that looked promising. I would do all the things I hoped to do. Time to be alone would never be boring.   It was going to be easy to fill my hours with painting, writing, exercise and meditation, cooking, cleaning. Visitors and long walks would be plentiful. The Farmer’s Market and Music in the Park would fill the gaps remaining. Also, the artist co-op was just two blocks away, and there were classes and events and a full service kitchen there! What more does a single woman living alone need?!

But I was lonely anyway. 

I had bouts of joy, independence, and satisfaction.

But I was more often lonely anyway.

I prayed and meditated and communed with the divine.

I suffered with lonely still.

I had daily conversations with myself, admonishing my weakness, determined not to allow the loneliness in. 

But lonely had moved in with me. It slept with its pale, rubbery back to me while I stared at the exposed vents 16 feet up.

I let myself cry a lot. I laughed at myself too.

I wrote about the things that felt soulful to me. It helped a little. I downed some serious amounts of ice cream each night, then ran it off every morning.

I started to wave to the bench of homeless guys because I was longing for human connection; they seemed to understand me. Even so, I was not one of them.

My two cats seemed to purr, “I-don’t-really-care-about-your-bullshit-lady.” And I took good care of them as payment for keeping me alive.

I began to reconsider my choices. 

It wasn’t that living alone was a bad choice, and it wasn’t that I even regretted it. I truly did not. I liked learning, stretching, growing. I loved the daily dancing in my kitchen. I wanted to say that I had done it.

It didn’t seem to matter; I had started to believe that being alone indefinitely was mildly horrible.  

The people in the park were not interested in talking with me. The people in my building never even held the door. They seemed to have their own lives. I was invisible. The artist co-op was superb, but I couldn’t exactly sleep there. My family and friends would visit, but hosting guests required far more energy than a roommate.

I started to understand that I was not the sort of person who wanted to live alone. Contrarily, I didn’t want to live with just anyone.  It seemed now that it might be easier to live near someone who was only a room away, instead of maybe someone who was paid to give me medical attention.

Six months in, my experiment proved that I had spent my whole life as the luckiest girl in the world, having never lived alone! I was grateful for this knowledge, and I was excited to reinstate my old life as soon as my current lease was up…. in just another 8 months.  

Some people love living alone. Some part of me gets it. I even envy it. But part of loving my authentic self is being totally okay with knowing I am not one of them. I still love being alone. I just don’t love living alone.

Guess I will soak up all the silence and empty space and the bathroom door wide open while I can. Since I am likely never going to allow this again. 

Isa Glade inspires and educates her readers to build a more spiritual life through her blog Isaglade.com.  She is a retired newspaper columnist and high school teacher, an intuitive, empath, a solitary witch, feminist, recovering addict, and a metaphysical painter. She lives as an artist, writer, and an expert contributor of esoteric knowledge in St Paul, Minnesota.

Why Online Dating is a Spiritual Experience: The Part 6 Finale – Goddess of the Hunt

Artemis is the mysterious goddess of the hunt. She doesn’t even try to be nice. She demands her place in the world, and she refuses to ever be married. Marriage is too constricting for her. She protects children, her own right to her body, and also the animal kingdom. Yet, she is known to kill when it suits her. Artemis scares me. She is so unpredictable. I suppose, one could say she personifies real love.

I revere her capacity for independence, but come on! No commitment? I’d rather eternally push a boulder up a hill than not want intimate attachment! I am not superior to love. I long for it.

Listen, I was raised for twelve years in a house of women only. I have never been a stranger to earning my own keep, nor having the drive to promote my own career. Nobody washes my dishes but me. I was raised on Instant Breakfast and sensible shoes. I know how to do the whole illusion of I DON’T NEED A MAN. Still, I always found it too black and white, too inhuman, and honestly, a lot of silly bravado. If I were a lesbian, I would feel no differently about wanting a woman. I certainly don’t intend to marry again. I just want my own God-given significant other to grow old with me, thank you very much!

Choosing to never stop the world and melt with a man just makes me sad. I may never be Artemis. But wow! She looks amazing in that super sexy get-up with a bow and arrow. I bet she gets a thrill seeing her own reflection in the local pond. She is known for hanging out with wolves and deer. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be that?

Maybe Artemis sees that the civil union of marriage denies that real love is fluid. It changes and it morphs. It is viable and it is generous. And sometimes real love, even with enduring trust, means letting people grow up and straight out of one’s life. Letting go can be the bravest act of love. I guess if I cannot find the man I want, at least I can love myself, my life and the people in it. I don’t have to attach myself to just anyone. Plus, my true love may be plowing through some of his own stuff before he can get to me. Right?

I do not regret dating online. It was not a waste of time. Epic levels of self-love came from it, clarity about what I am seeking, what I need, and who I am. Suffering in the Land of Singledom is a garden of spiritual lessons, and I am stronger for it. I am proud of the courage it took to go online, willing to risk heartbreak and the baffling, unsettled moments. I am grateful to the men who jumped in and taught me well.

Spiritual matters require a deeper look at the gains.

After six months of online dating, I admit it never felt natural to me. It often made me feel neurotic, robotic, hypnotic. I might do better with someone who earns my trust and friendship naturally, for a good long while before I let them in romantically. Love is horrible and chaotic and the best part of being alive. I am madly in love with love!

For now, I’ll be turning my will over to the gods. I intend to accept my fate. I can still laugh and commune with others, and simply be among the living. I can be lovely and lovable. But I do believe he is out there. I have a knowing of it. I just do.

Maybe I am more like Artemis than I realized, an unmarried, defiant goddess of the hunt.