Faux Solo Living

Dec 11, 2013 by

          After dropping off the last of four intoxicated friends at home following Friday’s Christmas party, I caught myself hoping that Olivia wouldn’t be at our apartment when I got there. Since leaving her job in September, Olivia allocates most of her time to school. Consequently, it’s rare that I go home to anything other than unwelcomed emptiness. It’s lonely. There’s a feeling of rejection that comes with being home alone on an ongoing basis when you didn’t sign up for it, hence my surprise to find myself wishing for solitude.

          As I drove the quiet roads at 3 am, I reflected on the night. I had a great evening with wonderful friends. Though physically exhausted, I was mentally bursting with energy, having just been reminded that I have the social resources to successfully cope with the aspects of my life that are not currently where I want them to be, namely the best-friendless and boyfriendless aspects. Feeling fab, I was not ready for my happy bubble to burst at the sight of Olivia. I wanted to bask in my positivity, which I knew would require having our place to myself. With this, I began contemplating my ideal living situation. My desire for solitude confirmed what I’ve known for months: my preferred living arrangement would be to live alone.

          When Olivia and I began re-arguing our seemingly never-ending fight in mid-November, my first instinct was to get out of our apartment ASAP. When I’m pissed at someone, I find it effective to limit or completely eliminate contact. Space works wonders for my emotions. Even though Olivia’s usually at school whenever she’s not sleeping, opening the front door to darkness as often as I have over the past three months can be frustratingly upsetting, which only causes resentment to build on top of pre-existing anger toward her. So, a few weeks ago, I had a bag packed for my parents’ house; but, I never left. Unlike in April, I wanted to see if I could learn how to cope with our differences in my own home with my own resources.

          Although it took some time to arrive at a positive way to view my situation, I am here at last. With the realization that I want to live alone, I began reframing my loneliness. I recognized that I already have what I want: space. There is a difference between being alone due to someone else’s absence and living alone, and I’ve tended to focus on being alone for most of the last month. However, lately, I’ve decided to live alone instead. That’s right, friends: I’m playing pretend! Denial it may be, but it’s an effective coping mechanism. By telling myself that I live alone, not only do I get to live as I prefer, but my expectations have changed. I am no longer disappointed to come home to no one. In fact, I’m beginning to love having the apartment to myself. There’s no awkwardness, no tension, and no pressure to speak or not speak.

          Furthermore, supposedly living alone has motivated me to reach out to a broader variety of people, as per Happiness Tip #11. Gone is my best friend to turn to at the spur of the moment to propose a random late-night venture. As a result, I’ve texted more in the last three days than I have in the last three weeks. Typically, I’m not a heavy texter; I’d rather save conversations for face time. However, with no one to talk to at home, I’ve noticed that I’m more inclined to utilise the phone that I normally pay little attention to. Subsequently, my social calendar is suddenly full from tonight through to Sunday. I even had to decline a last-minute coffee invite this evening due to previously scheduled plans. Ironically, living alone is less lonely than having a roommate. I love it!

          Having done my research on the cost of rent for places in my area that are up to my standards, actually living alone is not a financially realistic option for me at this time. It would require allocating a significant portion of my biweekly dream fund contributions to living expenses, which is a tradeoff that I’m not willing to make. In the meantime, until I’ve settled on what to do about my long term living sitch, I am happy to fake it as Miss Independent Living.

          As for when Olivia is home, I’ve tailored my usual approach. For the first time, instead of assuming that I’m having a harder time dealing with this than she is, I’m acknowledging that she is likely as upset as I am. This is especially probable considering that she’s the one who wants to improve our friendship and continue living together, whereas I’m the one who is unprepared to co-dwell in our pretty apartment with the limited faith that I have left in us. Therefore, lashing out at her, my go-to response, is not the route that I’m taking anymore. I’m simply leaving her alone. I don’t want to make the situation harder for her or for myself. That is not the person that I want to be upon exiting this friendship. I’ve decided that, if we part, I’d rather part calmly. Am I finally learning how to approach mine and Olivia’s conflict with maturity? Probably not. I suspect that this is what giving up is like. Regardless, I’d like to give peacefully.

Happiness Tip: Change your perspective to optimize your current situation.

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