What I’ve Learned During My Year Alone (ish)

It’s been almost a year that I spent my last day of teaching video game development, after leaving my other job(s) / contract ending about a month and a half prior. So, as embarrassing as it sounds for me personally, the truth is that I’ve been officially unemployed for a year now.

Of course, I did some of it by choice. My last work environment ended up being very toxic for me, and I heard through the grapevine that they weren’t going to renew my contracts anyway due to my “lifestyle”, so I left to finish writing my book. (Which I did!)

But when not writing the book, or planning the almost stress-free (thanks to no full-time gig) 3rd year of Playground, I’m not really sure what I did this year. Certainly, there wasn’t that much time between finishing the book and working full time on the conference, but I’d be lying if I said that my days were filled with non-stop work until my husband came home.

And now today, a year to the day after I went down the naked, “no-going-back” rabbit hole with The Boy (I have an annoying memory for dates, and really wish I didn’t remember this one because today has been unnecessarily hard), I finally feel like reflecting on what my year alone (ish) has been like.

To start with, I haven’t *really* been alone

I’ve had plenty of friends around me, and many opportunities to do super fun things during the day, like day-drinking at Hanlans Point with one of my fave ladies, or getting to know new friends on chat, or over pints, or in the bedroom. I’ve had a husband coming home to me every day, and many fun adventures in the evening with friends, and very sporadically, lovers, though not always working out well. When I say that I’ve been alone, I don’t mean all the time; I mean that while the majority of people I know have been contributing to society in some meaningful way during their daytimes, I’ve been at home alone, either working on the book or conference, or perfecting my growing agoraphobia.

I’m terrible at being alone

Ok. Well maybe terrible is an exaggeration. I am perfectly capable of handling my life when I’m alone. In fact, my independence can kick into high gear when I know I’m the only one around to do things; I can take care of myself or get things done.

But at the same time? I also can’t take care of myself or get things done. I find myself occasionally living in a narrow path, where I can only see what’s directly in front of me and not the rest of the world, or even the room I’m standing in. I suspect that I’ve struggled with expanding my view because I haven’t wanted to see that I’ve been surrounded by nothingness; just me and my computer, faking my connections to the real world.

And while I’m absolutely great when I have a purpose, like Playground, working alone is not for me. Not that I want to work in an open concept office where everyone is tapping on my shoulders every 5 minutes; there needs to be a balance. But being the only person responsible for creating my tasks and then ensuring that those tasks are completed is not something I want or like doing for myself. Put me in a room of others and I’ll happily delegate and manage the shit out of them, but I’m a hopeless puppy when just doing it myself.

I have more depression than I realized

To say that this year was a perfect storm of everything coming together to throw me right into some sort of weird depression tornado, would be an understatement. A drawn out breakup that hit me with more severity than ANY of those in the past + a cold, lonely, and terrible winter + cramming to finish a 5 year project and get over the fear of sharing it with the world + living with a sick cat that I loved more than anything, and deciding over 3 months when to kill her + a few job situations not working out or being delayed + blah blah other romantic interactions failing blah blah + + +

In the past I’ve had the occasional seasonal depression, either related to the time of year or event production, but this year I was hit with the sads from every corner. And it wasn’t just the “breakup blues”, it was a lot of “Oh, I’m a worthless human being” or “I’m going to stay home because the world is scary” or “I don’t trust myself to make any decisions anymore” or “Hey, I hear your compliments and praise but I just feel empty inside.”

You know, those sorts of things. And finding myself with more alone time than I’ve EVER known how to deal with, all of those sentiments (and more) would follow me around like a massive rain cloud, every. single. day. It became impossible to escape them at times, and I’d be lying if I said that I’ve completely found myself in the sunshine. There are still days when I feel like an absolute waste of space.

Time is a commodity that needs to be valued

It’s true. There are a million and one projects that I want to start. I have a novel to write. An Etsy store to open. People to coach. A poly family to form. A little bit of this. A little bit of that. I’ve spent a LOT of time getting to know the things that I want to do with myself, and allowing for the luxury of entertaining some that I will likely ignore. With all these great projects just dying to get started, you’d think I’d have made EVERYthing by now. But no. The lesson I’ve learned is that the more time you have, the less you really do with it. When time is readily available, it’s so easy to waste. When you have to carve it out to truly do the things you love, that’s the time when I’m much more productive. I’ve struggled a lot with this.

I’m more professional than I thought

Somehow, while sitting in my pyjamas watching Always Sunny or porn, I’ve gone from complete despair in my career’s outlook to “Hey, I’m actually really flipping good at project/team managing, producing, and events management. Like, really good.” Looking at job descriptions that you don’t qualify for can be a soul-sucking task if all you’re focusing on is the fact that “Oh, I don’t have that specific requirement” or “8 years working at so and so corporation”. I’ve learned to start taking another approach, realizing that all of the work I have done either qualifies or over qualifies me for some jobs, while also accepting that I can’t convince all employers of this, as everyone has their own risks to mitigate.

Time does NOT heal all wounds, especially when alone

In some cases, time makes things worse. And for me, having all the time in the world this year, my wounds have been open with a constant stream of salt pouring into them. I don’t shut doors very well; my heart is always open to people from the past, which means that it’s also always open to heartache reminders. Being alone makes it obviously so much worse because, instead of focusing on new tasks at work or meeting new people, I can very easily spend a day in a downward spiral of reading old emails because, shit, it’s not like anything new is happening in my life.

I have zero idea how non-monogamy and I work right now

I don’t know if I want a poly family or someone to fuck casually. A dominant master or mistress. People to do pot lucks with, or people to hit Oasis with. I don’t know what’s worth it for me, right now, or moving forward. Somedays I feel like non-monogamy and I just aren’t meant to be, and on others, I know that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever typed.

I might not know exactly what I want, but I know what I don’t

If there’s one benefit to all of this time to myself, it’s the amount of reflecting I’ve been able to do. I’ve had a lot of different types of relationships over the past 7 years, in addition to my marriage that grows even more awesome daily, and with constant time available to think about it, I’ve certainly figured out a few things I don’t want out of future relationships. Unfortunately, along with that comes a lot of cynicism and distrust and confusion. I have no clue what I’m looking for in my next relationship(s), or if I even want anything, but I definitely feel more secure with the things that are definite noooooooos.

I’m just about done with being alone

It’s true. I’m SO ready to be around people again. I find that it’s a lot harder to get myself out the door nowadays, but once I’m out, I’m still just as good – if not better / more confident – around people than I ever used to be. All I need is some routine that’s not my lazy, post Playground, days and I should be ok.

And finally … I’ve really learned the depths of my vulnerability and my strengths this year

This entire year has been like existing in one big, mirrored box, where I’ve been unable to escape my failures or successes. Every part of who I am is clear to me now, whether I like it or not. A lot of it I currently don’t like it. But a lot more of it, I’m starting to really, truly cherish.

Here’s a song that I should have listened to a lot more a year ago. Maybe a lot of the last 365 would have been very different.

  • André

    First off I feel like a horrible blog follower, I don’t think I’ve checked up on your blog since you wrote “Afraid to Fall”. Thanks Google for getting rid of my iGoogle homepage, and therefore all the instant updates to the blogs I used to read (I’m very much of an “out of sight, out of mind” guy).

    I don’t know how you manage to do it but you always seem to write as though you’re speaking right to my heart. For the last 5 weeks I’ve felt so much the same way. Starting in the second week of January, life just started going to shit. All kinds of things that normally I could have dealt with (one or 2 at a time) just kept piling on and on relentlessly. It was like life decided to get all the crap it’s going to throw at me over the next year or 2 out of the way in the first 6 weeks.

    I would start to deal with 1 problem just to be smacked in the face by the next one before the first bit of dealing had really even started. Then problem 3 would come up, then 4 and on and on. I had really just stopped dealing all together. I didn’t care about anything, not food or sleep or sex or dating or my business. My wife tried to help and cheer me up, but even that just made it worse.

    You are so right about time being a commodity, I haven’t been on a job site in close to a month, what does my house have to show for all this time spent at home? A deep butt impression on the couch, worn off remote control numbers and no beer. And a wife who’s simultaneously pissed that I’m doing nothing but bumming around when there’s A LOT to do around the house, and deeply worried about me and how to help.

    I think I’m starting to come out of it now but it’s hard to say of
    it’s for real or if I’m just being forced back into real life. I can
    only ignore my company for so long before it goes down too. Anyway, I’ll end my rant here, I’m not trying to steal your blog for my own venting. I know this post was a while ago for you, but for me who just read it, it speaks deeply to what I’m feeling right now. Thanks for writing it.

    • nympsam

      I’m so sorry to hear that you had similar experiences, but at least happy to hear that I was able to connect with you. Sometimes just human connection is enough to help us get by. I hope you’re doing better now. xo