How to be alone

How to be alone

Being alone.

It’s not a natural human condition, us being a tribal species, and often thrust upon us by circumstances rather than by choice and, if we’ve been in a long term relationship that has ended, we are often ill equipped to cope with this new found ‘freedom’. For me I entered a phase of self doubt, self destructive behaviour and introspective self analysis. I was stuck.

Eventually I learned to deal with the constant internal dialogue, the loneliness and the sense of failure that comes from being unable to sustain a relationship that you desperately wanted to remain part of.

This post was inspired by a post on the Seize Positivity blog – 26 Ways To Take Your Life Back When You’re Broken and whilst I don’t entirely disagree with it’s upbeat tone and strategies it’s not a realistic overview of how I found my way back from the dark place I found myself in.

First came the maelstrom of emotions. Anger, oh the fucking anger, fuelled by too much alcohol as you rage around your space late at night smashing things up and then waking up in the morning realising what you’ve done and having to clean up.

At the same time despair. A tangible gut wrenching despair where the walls close in on you and you can’t see any future happiness in your life, so used are you to seeing your existence as part of a couple. You forget to eat or you cook something and think I don’t want this and pour yourself a large drink.

The sadness, You think of all the happy times you had as a couple and project that your ex is reflecting on the same happy times and there’s still hope for reconciliation. That does happen, but I don’t know how successful that might be, and the reality is that in most cases it simply doesn’t. It’s over.

There’s a Portuguese word for these feelings – Saudade – described as a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return.

Once described as “the love that remains” after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places, or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone or something that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. It brings sad and happy feelings altogether, sadness for missing and happiness for having experienced the feeling.

This feeling will stay with you for some time, I’m afraid.

The biggest favour you can do yourself is to break all direct contact with your ex beyond responding unemotionally to things that need sorting out. It’s tough if you’re not the one that wanted to end the relationship but it is vital for your own emotional stability.

What we tend to do (I know I did) is to draft perfectly crafted emails and texts, read your ex’s horoscope constantly to get some insight in to how they’re feeling, looking at old photos and have imaginary conversations with your ex partner. This only serves to delay the process of letting go and it puts all of our power in the hands of another person. Their response if it comes at all will determine how we feel, what questions we probably want to ask next and it goes on and on.

One of the biggest sources of our unhappiness and discontent is not being able to adapt to change; instead, we cling to things we’ve lost or get upset because things don’t unfold as we want them to. What we overlook is that this is a fundamental law of life, the ups and downs, ebbs and flows. Things come and go, nothing stays the same, and we can’t control most of the things we’d like to. Accepting this and learning to adapt and go with the flow brings us one step closer to happiness.

Let go.


You can and will be happy again. Maybe a different version of happy, but you will.

I promise.

I’m living proof.

If You Forget Me – Poem by Pablo Neruda

If You Forget Me – Poem by Pablo Neruda

I want you to know

one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Should I stay or should I go

Should I stay or should I go

If I go there could be trouble, if I stay it could be double.

Everyone of us wants to belong, to be part of a tribe, it’s hard wired in to our DNA. I self identify as coming from Yorkshire although, because my Dad was in the Army, I’ve moved around all of my life so lived in many places, but my heart calls Yorkshire home.

This used to annoy my late Mum who used to angrily say ‘you’re not from Yorkshire’ yet she still self identified as being a Londoner even though she hadn’t lived there for decades,

Trouble is I have lived for the last 35 years away from Yorkshire, but now find myself at a potential crossroads in my life. After manfully trying to resurrect my third marriage (at my wife’s invitation in 2012) it became clear over the last couple of years that the relationship was stagnating and not going anywhere and we (apparently) mutually agreed that the marriage was over.

So. Where do I go?

The only things that keep me where I am are:

  • The proximity of my stepdaughter and her beautiful three children all of whom I love very dearly.
  • My allotment.
  • Familiarity I guess.

The things that are tempting me to go back ‘home’ are:

  • My biological children and grandchildren.
  • Hills.
  • Decent beer.
  • Leeds United (my first love).
  • An accent that I quite like (as opposed to one I hate).

Decisions, decisions!

Live fast, die young

Live fast, die young

I’ve struggled all of my life to conform.

I come from the ‘live fast, die young’ rock and roll generation that eschewed all notion of being a responsible grown up and instead embraced a path of hedonistic pleasure, self destructive behaviours and a series of bad life choices.

I’ve smoked, drank and gambled (throw in a little light drug use too) my way through life, fallen in love with the wrong women, failed to find fulfilment in my career and struggled at times with my inner demons. Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t all been bad; I’ve had many high points and experienced great happiness, but on the flip side too many God awful lows.

Even parenthood didn’t save me, an experience that for many serves as a seminal moment of adult enlightenment. Not me. I was far too busy indulging in an ill advised and tempestuous relationship to take my responsibilities as a father (or a husband) seriously enough.

In the book I’m reading at the moment, Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain, there’s a quote by Norman Mailer who described the desire to be cool as a “decision to encourage the psychopath in oneself, to explore that domain of experience where security is boredom and therefore sickness and one exists in the present, in that enormous present which is without past or future, memory or planned intention.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me. Like the eponymous and deeply flawed hero of Californication, Hank Moody, I just wanted to be cool.
‎”Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” ~Alan Watts

Lives of quiet desperation

Lives of quiet desperation

‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.’ So said the American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau.

Most of us start our adult lives excited by the infinite possibility that life offers us, the fulfilment we will find in our brilliant careers, our perfect relationships, the respect and admiration of our peers, but all too often the setbacks of a normal life confine us to a life that is anything but fulfilled.

The older we get, the more we excuse this by writing ourselves off as not creative or talented enough, that we’ve missed our chance to shine and apathetically accept our fate, too scared or too lazy to do anything about it.

Fear holds us back, so conditioned do we become in not risking the life we know for one that the fatalist in us might fear be worse. We sit around not daring to try anything new, believing we don’t have the power to change things. It’s true, we don’t have control over all aspects of our lives, but we do have some.

I’m reading Mastery at the moment, a book by Robert Greene. The central philosophy of the book is people face the same problem – that we are born as individuals but are forced to conform to the rules of society if we want to succeed. To see our uniqueness expressed in our achievements, we must first learn the rules – and then how to change them completely.

I’ll let you know how that goes!

This coming year, 2013, I’m going to spend time thinking about the things I can change — and work to change them. My list, in no particular order includes:

  • Let go
  • Meditate
  • Yoga
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Write daily
  • Reduce/eliminate debt
  • Read more

I’ve sat around for long enough waiting for good things to happen to me without any effort on my part. Time to be happy again.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau