Competing Through Life All Alone

While driving two-plus hours up to my sister’s in-laws’ home on Thanksgiving morning, listening to a special edition of The Splendid Table on NPR, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of loneliness.

I was fortunate enough to be headed on my way to celebrate the holiday with family, but the empty passenger seats gnawed at me.

As I listened to call after call of people asking for help with their butterball and yams, the long stretch of I-94 was quiet.

There was no traffic or turns or roadside attractions to distract me. People were seeking guidance on how to salvage the burnt pumpkin pie they lovingly made for their spouse.

Others shared recipes of side dishes that were special to them and their partner. The talk was constant and yet I was lost in my thoughts.

I reflected on all that has happened this past year and how I have so much personal growth and success to be thankful for.

Changing my mindset from one of passivity to activity has been hugely rewarding. I took risks that I had before run away from and now I find myself more confident in the gym, enjoying a new position at work and my first home. Yet, who is at my table to celebrate?

I have a wonderful supporting group of friends and family here in Minnesota and spread around the country.

I got to reunite face-to-face with many of them that I hadn’t seen in years in 2014. The warmth of their love and goodwill towards me was palpable, but it is also lingering. It gets reignited at times and often it is far more powerful than I could ever describe and thus that true friendship is long-lasting.

But they go back to the day-to-day of work and kids and mortgages, etc. and the love goes from a roar to a whisper.

Even those that are local are seen with less frequency, especially as we all get older, and the workout or the happy hour together gets trumped by other responsibilities. I am as much to blame as I have become more protective of my free time.

I also know that I have built an amazing network through this blog. People who are strangers on the surface show up as my cheerleaders without being asked.

They share their own stories, their advice, their ups and downs and we connect. But they too, even as linked as we are through social media, are not with me at home.

I find myself in an unenviable position of being alone in the ring. And I make this statement not to draw sympathy or pity but to share my realization that my once heralded independence seems now poised to become my undoing.

Where’s my partner in this journey? Where’s my Adrian?

This is not some masked treatise to preach the importance of marriage and to decry or demonize anyone who is alone.

I am open and supportive to all paths. I just have felt in the last few weeks, more than ever before, a pining to no longer do this all, this life, in isolation.

I have spent so much time on myself. It’s been a constant chorus of “me, me, me.” And no, that doesn’t mean I should solve the problem by getting a dog. And yes, I realize this dialogue is still about me.

But it’s about me being honest and upfront like I always have been on this site and utilizing this forum to somehow articulate this internal shift that has taken place.

Over the last two years, I have worked so hard to strengthen my arms, legs, back, chest and even my head that I have neglected my heart.

I am training and competing to make myself better, but this process of betterment needs to start turning itself more outward.

“To find love is to find strength.” ― Wayne Chirisa

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