Last winter I had an anxiety attack. Over the years, I’ve shared my home with flat-mates as well as with romantic partners, but I won’t lie that I love living by myself and the freedom of doing whatever I want in my home. However, having noted that, I’ve come to the realization that as a single, middle-aged woman with no children, no partner, and no living relatives who live close by that living solo may not be in the cards for me after a certain point.
Why? Because I caught a glimpse of what the future might be like.
It was a very cold Vermont day, and I felt a heaviness in my chest. I suspected it was the stress of having to walk my dogs in the ice and snow, wondering whether this will be the winter that one of them would pull so hard that I would slip, fall, and break a bone. The more I thought about it, the more anxious I became. My heart raced and I couldn’t get it to slow down. After some internal debate, I called a cab and off I went to the ER. By the time I arrived, I was calmer but I wanted to be sure I didn’t have a mild heart attack. I had an EKG, blood was taken, and everything was fine. Or was it?
During my short stay in the ER, I started to think that if, in fact, I needed to stay in the hospital who would take care of my dogs? I really didn’t know anyone except a few neighbors whom I greeted during our walks. It came as a hard shock I was truly alone. My dream of structuring my life as a reclusive writer who relished her privacy and who had minimal social contact no longer seemed enticing or practical. I came to realize I had to get out of my isolated comfort zone.
Looking back on the times I lived alone, I came to see I was never truly isolated. I had friends. I went out. I socialized. I went to events. In fact, I wasn’t the introvert I always thought I was. When I lived with flat-mates, the concerns and agita I had this winter never existed. My flat-mates became my friends, I was happy and, more importantly, healthy.
For the time being, I still see myself living alone. However, I’m taking steps to get to know more people and be less quick to dismiss the idea of sharing my home in the future.
What about you? Do you relish living solo? Have you had a similar experience? Does the notion of having a home-mate provide peace of mind?