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Thursday, 10 September 2009

Relationships

By Lyn Burnstine of The Lynamber Times

I am on a blog site where it seems I am the eldest person. When bloggers began to submit “relationship” blogs, I noticed that they all seemed to be about primary love relationships of one sort or another.

That’s all well and good, but romances are such a small part of relationship. May I remind everyone that the divorce rate is reported to be somewhere around fifty percent, and that sixty-five percent of the elderly who live alone are women? Chances are, if you are a woman, that you will spend at least part of your adult life living alone.

I submit to you, dear readers, that “alone” does not mean “lonely.” There are so many ways to be in relationship: with your community, your work peers, your family, your teachers, friends, your church, your priest, minister or rabbi – your God.

You have relationships with your plumber, your mail carrier, your pharmacist, your doctors, nurses and therapists, your landlady, your pets, maybe even your bartender. There are relationships with inanimate objects. (I, for one, have a real thing for my Izod socks.)

You certainly have a relationship with your job, and your leisure-time activities (my obsession with crossword puzzles is well-known amongst my friends). Books and sports and game-playing are all relationships whether solitary or with friends.

The most important relationship (yes, even more than family) is with yourself – your physical and your emotional body – loving both enough to take care of and respect them. That’s where the relationship with food and exercise and proper rest come in. (I am currently having a renewed love affair with my bed and have been inspired to write an eponymous essay about it, “I’m in Love With My Bed.” That may be a future blog.)

I became single again at forty-six after a twenty-two-year marriage, and the death of a man I loved for six years after that. I went to a singles’ discussion group – several times in fact – but was so turned off by what one man said that I never went back. He said, “I count every day that I’m not in a relationship as a lost day.”

Did that mean that I should count the days of my single adult life as lost days? I don’t think so. I didn’t think so then, and I don’t think so 8,395 days later – days brimming over with love, friends, family (which now includes four great-granddaughters), music (performing in amazing venues and running hundreds of concerts of my musical friends and family), writing three-plus books, cooking, swimming, photographing thousands of gorgeous scenes, laughter and tears: in other words, life!

Days that turned into weeks, months, years and, finally, decades during which I learned that I am my own best companion and happy living alone, yet sharing my life in relationship with others.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

I think you are forgetting that people have the need to have an intimate emotional connection... yes those secondary relationships are important to getting balance..but have you ever sat in a room... looking at your email.. looking at your facebook hoping someone cares enough to say hi.. to know that if you don't talk to your friends first they will forget about you.. to have the only form of human connection be youtube comments... to know that in a couple of days will be your bday and nobody you know will remember... I get how we have to be ok alone.. but at the same time I think you need to realize that sometimes being alone makes a person lonely.. sometimes the images of the past.. the demons from life are too much when the silence of night..

Hi Lyn - Great post. I've always been single, and I've lived alone since 1971. I haven't been in a real romantic relationship in more than 20 years (not for lack of trying!)

What you write is true. I'm lucky in having a great sister and an extended family. But the secondary--and tertiary, and quaternary (sic?) relationships are all important, too. I had a great time joking around with the young man at the supermarket checkout last night; it reminded me not to assume young people automatically write us off, because he was very warm to me.

I agree with Gebadia, though, too; certainly there are times when I wish I had someone right there to share things with--the cardinal outside the window, the household chores, a spontaneous evening out that doesn't need to be planned in advance. If I'm in a good mood, I remind myself that plenty of people in marriages/partnerships don't enjoy that kind of sharing, either, though.

I have lived alone for 24 years and have a very good relationship with myself. I find it liberating to not have to put someone else's needs above my own. That probably sounds selfish, but so be it.

The only time I would like to have a partner is when I am ill, or have to deal with a problem. It would be nice to have someone to help me at those times. Again, a selfish motive.

I tried dating and decided that I was happier alone than having to put up with the quirks of the men that were attracted to me. The price of a relationship was just too high.

I find the friends I have made on the Internet are among my closest. Is that a false relationship because it isn't intimate? I don't think so.

Lyn,
I read your story with interest because your life, in many ways, parallels mine – 20+-year marriage and then the death of a beloved male friend after a wonderful eight-year relationship. I, also, enjoy living alone. Having taken good care of many people throughout my lifetime, prepared me to be happy now that I just have to take care of myself. Bottom line is that we have to enjoy all stages of our lives and be content with what we have.

Really nice essay! I learned after the strong hormone sex-drive years, to look inward and lo and behold, I found my perfect companion. Someone I really love and someone who is caring to me on a 24/7 basis. This woman never leaves my side and I am guaranteed that we really will be together "till death do us part". Of course, she and I are one. Non-demanding always and a pleasure to be with at all times. She is of course me, my true life companion. How great is that! Loving oneself is our greatest gift to ourselves. Unfortunately, it takes most of our lifetime to realize this.

Lyn,

Abraham Maslow would certainly understand your perspective and reward you with admiration for having progressed so far on the path to self-actualization -- as would Jung and Erikson and other luminescent student of adult development. Others may think you are a tad weird or in denial about your need to be shadowing or having another shadowing you, but physical independence does not mean spiritual isolation from others. I read your words as indicative of an at once deeper and broader sense of connectedness with all things. Yours is a too rare state of humanness.

Thank you all for your comments. We all have our own unique stories. We are lucky if we are able to deal contentedly with the cards we are dealt in life, OR, if not, are able to re-shuffle the deck and choose a better hand. I live in a senior apartment complex, so I see a lot of unnecessary loneliness around me--unnecessary because right across the hall lives another lonely woman, and neither will take the step of inviting the other in for a cup of tea. Sad.

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