Aloneness can produce very different reactions in people. Some cherish their tranquility while others abhor it. This can be especially difficult for those who have lost loved ones or unwillingly find themselves alone.
There is a difference, however, between solitude and loneliness. We can be alone without feeling lonely; the difference is a choice made entirely within ourselves.
Media tells us that if we are alone, we are unwanted or somehow lacking, not fit for company. Bridget Jones embodies the terror of solitude perfectly, though there are many other forms of this anxiety. The natural reaction to being alone often seems to be devastation. We dread silence and time to ourselves; it often does not occur to women that this is a wonderful opportunity to be explored.
Our time alone is what we make of it. Solitude is a gift, whether we choose it or not: a time during which we can refresh and recharge ourselves, when no one is making demands of us and we are free to explore the possibilities of life, to quietly observe the world around us, to enjoy the things we are passionate about, and to work on ourselves.
Discomfort about being alone will come and go, especially when we hear media messages about it, or come under questioning from friends or family. But it is something that can be enjoyed, appreciated and made the most out of as a period to recharge from life and focus on ourselves.
Solitude is an opportunity, if you let it. It is a gift to be savored. The women who attend residential treatment centers come to find a measure of solitude in which to heal and strengthen themselves. It coaxes their quietest corners forward, allows them to better discover their inner selves and emerge strengthened and whole, bastions of certainty and happiness without need for external approval.
When women do emerge from their solitude, they better know themselves and their path, and carry themselves with renewed strength and certainty.