To the Women who Fear they are Destined to Be Alone.

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Having fears is human—but fears aren’t facts.

The problem begins when we choose to keep our fears a secret. When we chose to protect our fears and keep them from the light, they grow larger and larger until they become monsters.

We feed our fears by keeping them quiet.

I want to tell you the story of what happened when I spoke about my fear of being alone, when I exposed it to the light.

Not so long ago, my biggest fear was ending up alone. I felt there was something inexplicably wrong with me, something that made it impossible for me to have a lasting, healthy relationship with someone. At every wedding, party and event designed for couples to attend, I was sure I wore a scarlet letter on my forehead. I was sure that every single person in the room was wondering what was wrong with me.

My relationships were short and sweet. They ended before they even began. I was always the single friend, so people eventually stopped asking.

It was incredibly painful to feel so alone, not good enough, unworthy of love. And no matter how strong, intelligent, beautiful and worthy I felt at times, other times all these things felt like lies. You know, that mind game we play with ourselves: “But if all these things are true, why am I still single?”

I began to believe that I was not going to fall in love like everyone else. I began to believe that love was not in the cards for me. I began to believe that, for whatever reason, my destiny was to be alone.

And this terrified me. I would spend nights in bed thinking about how lonely life would be. I was angry too, angry that this was the hand I had been dealt. I would have given anything for somebody to assure me what the future had in store for me.

During this 25-year period, I received all sort of pieces of advice from friends:

“It will happen when you are ready.”

“It happens when you stop looking for it.”

“Just focus on you and it will fall into place.”

And a personal favorite: “Be patient.”

Of course, most of these women were in relationships, so I didn’t believe a word they said. Frankly, I wanted to punch each of them in the face when they gave me these well-intentioned, but incredibly unhelpful, condescending and un-validating pieces of advice.

But slowly, I stopped caring about what other people thought and said. I started talking about my fear, exposing it to the light. I talked about it with friends and a therapist. I wrote it down on a piece of paper and ripped it up into tiny pieces. I prayed to have the fear removed. I asked for help when I needed it. I began to accept the possibility of being alone and found that I actually really liked my life—so being alone didn’t sound like such a terrible idea anymore.

I started to focus more on me and the kind of person I was. I started to believe I would attract this type of person into my life.

I worked on myself every day. I learned how to love myself through the good, the bad and the ugly. I began to believe, deep down in my soul, that I was worthy of great love. That no matter what mistakes I had made or pain I had felt, I was still worthy of great love.

So I cut out the destructive behaviors: the drinking, smoking, late-night text messaging. I stopped entertaining individuals who weren’t treating me the way I wanted to be treated. I became more assertive and asked for what I wanted and needed. I stopped feeling ashamed to be alone. Instead, I felt empowered.

I surrounded myself with loving women who accepted me unconditionally. I began to follow my authentic passions. I threw myself into mental health advocacy, went back to school to pursue a career as a therapist and completed a 200-hour training to be a yoga teacher. I did whatever I wanted and realized that the person who was meant for me would accept this version of me.

Today, I accept my life as imperfect. I am not where I thought I would be at 28, but I am indescribably happy—and in a loving relationship.

I had promised myself that if I ever got into a lasting, healthy relationship, I wouldn’t forget what it was like to feel profoundly alone. I promised that I wouldn’t give unhelpful, condescending advice to single women. I promised that, instead, I would empathize with their pain. I would listen to their pain.

This is what I want to say to the women who fear they are destined to be alone:

I am sorry that you are hurting. I am sorry that you feel alone. I felt alone, too—for a very long time. And the only thing that ever lessened the pain was learning to love myself through it. No one person ever took the pain completely away for me. Although I’m in a relationship today, I still battle with this pain. It didn’t matter so much that I found a healthy relationship, what mattered is that I stopped protecting my fear.

It isn’t always easy, but today, I know that my fears will not live long in the light.

Author: Ali Mariani

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Image: Han Cheng Yeh/Flickr

 

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Ali Mariani

Ali Mariani is the Executive Director of The (I’m)Possible Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and support youth who may encounter mental health challenges and raise awareness about mental health challenges that today’s youth face. Equally as important, she is a cat fanatic and spends most of her free time with her two cats, Joy and Pumpkin. When she isn’t pretending her cats can talk back to her, Ali is earning her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and starting her own therapeutic yoga practice. She currently resides in her studio apartment in Wooster Square, New Haven, Connecticut.

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celestina.sellers Dec 11, 2018 12:26am

Guys, I don’t think she’s 28. I think she’s saying she’s not where she thought she would be when she was 28. I mean she specifically says during a 25 year period. If she was only 28 then she was dating and having sex at 3!

Tracy Lee Strassburg Nov 25, 2018 12:12am

Like some of the others… 28?! However, I did relate to those words in my late 20s/30s. In fact I too practiced yoga and taught yoga and truly lived with my empowered self for a decade before a chance meeting with Mr Wrong. I had two kids in my 40s with Mr Wrong. Am now alone, single, parenting, struggling, poor, in therapy, on meds after Mr Wrong devastated my life. But, yeah, at 28, I was you…

Tricia Dapelo Oct 29, 2018 12:18pm

Great insights but I’m still alone at 44 and struggling

Sherien Hossny Hamouda Aug 20, 2018 8:40am

Ok I had to stop reading at 28!!!! 38?? You didn't even pass your 20th what are you worried about? At 28 I had never even thought of a husband or serious commitment I was too busy living making a career and traveling the world you should rewrite this at 38 hun. Enjoy your best days 28!!!!

Sharmin Farzana Haider Jul 6, 2018 12:23pm

I'm in tears! I'm delighted to have acknowledged that I'm not the only one who feels this way! I'm happy that you all acknowledge that this pain is real. Thank you, Ali <3 Your words empowered me :')

Lanie Miller Jun 28, 2018 4:53pm

I'm 48 and still single. 28??? Oh my word.

Kathy Castillo Southard Jun 28, 2018 4:18am

28!? Ha ha ha. Try being a never-married single woman in yours 40s without a long-term relationship in 10 years. This is funny. According to statistics I won't ever be married. I'm mostly good with this, but if I were 28 and fearful of being alone forever, that's a definite made-up problem. But in your 40s, it's the truth.

Lindy Conner Jun 28, 2018 4:12am

28! Try 43

Rachel Anne Marie Jun 10, 2018 6:59pm

Hmmm.... I’ve been enjoying my alone life these past 3 years following divorce and have just recently wondered to myself if I’m destined to be alone the rest of my life if I don’t end up in a relationship soon (even though that’s not what I want now). My quick response to myself is, “Don’t be silly, you’re still young.” My mouth dropped open when I read that the author is 28. Then, the comments about her not being truly older - like 38. I’m nearing 42!!

Mary Thompson Apr 9, 2018 1:50am

Or 48!

Cristina Loayza Feb 22, 2018 4:07pm

Lovely, well written. BUT tlry that when you're 64 and still alone, like me. There are no words that will help then. Being alone is just sometimes what we are dealt with. Try not ever having attracted anyone, that hurts a lot too.

Leslie Sausins Jan 23, 2018 1:20pm

Thank you for this. You can't imagine how much I needed to read this today. This very fear has a strong hold on me lately. It's time to shine the light and make some changes. Thank you again. :)

Taigita Michaella Jul 7, 2017 7:50am

Sincerely happy it worked out for you. I felt much the same way at your age and did all of the above. Nothing has changed and I'm pushing 44. Maybe some people *are* just destined to be alone. Regardless I'm not sure there's really a formula per se, as in the formula two hydrogen plus one oxygen equals water. I got a dog �

Kimberly Duckworth Lewer May 2, 2017 9:33pm

Cute thought, except she's 28, not 38 and even a "string of short relationships" are still relationships! I have not been on a date since mt divorce 12 yrs ago!! Plus, I have the "awesome" bonus that if I "voice my fear" of ending up alone, I get the response "But you have your son!" Uh, yea, he should totally give up his life to make sure I don't end up alone!!! Grr.

Kim Raff East May 2, 2017 2:24pm

Looks to me like every piece of that "condescending" advice turned out to be TRUE!

Charlotte-Mae Lundholm Dec 18, 2016 4:50pm

Thank you.

Teresa Jane Mann Dec 18, 2016 9:44am

Agreed

Elizabeth Anich Dec 18, 2016 7:36am

You think the rest of us didnt want that too? You think we didnt try for that too? The author got everything she wanted in time. We want to hear from someone who, like us, missed out on having kids and is older than 28 and still alone.

Karen VD Westhuizen Grose Dec 18, 2016 4:52am

Dear Ali, such a meaningful message. Your advice is spot on. Keep writing!! �

Joy Puc Dec 18, 2016 4:42am

Hi, Ali. Such a nice read this was. Recently stepped out of a relationship with whom I thought was the man of my life. I'm 27 an just hit the point were I'm finally facing myself and can absolutely relate with this fear, I've always felt this way and right now seems so real and yes, it hurts deeply. I'm going back to school too and I have this need of fixing my self harming habits too... What I have no idea of where to find is a nurturing community. I feel really related to your story. Thanks a lot

Huini Lima Dec 17, 2016 10:23pm

Thank You Ali !!! From the bottom of My heart, Thank You!!!

Dawn Michelle Behling Dec 17, 2016 4:53pm

I'm with you Erin. I'm 38 and feel the same way. :)

Naomi Baird Nov 23, 2016 6:37pm

Yup - I'm 42 and single.....it's a whole different ball game. But I think that Ali's message of loving yourself is still valid

Flavia Luz Nov 23, 2016 5:23pm

Thank you for that! Finally an article that expresses honestly the feeling and really has a real perspective about it, not only those fantasy things they have around the Web!

Ванина Паскова Nov 5, 2016 7:41am

Great article.But can you tell me how you stared to love yourself and accept yourself, because I am trying to do the same. Thank you!

Susie Carlson Sep 18, 2016 3:15pm

So over a 25 year period you learned to deal with the issue, and now you're 28? You stated obsessing about being alone when you were 3? Weird.

Jaime Denise Klotz Sep 4, 2016 2:44pm

Late 20's and early 30's is the bracket where many ppl start settling down and it's scary when all Your friends are taking that route and you're the only single person