Life is a pigsty, and if you don’t know this, then what do you know?
I was just 18 when I first left home. I bought myself a slightly neglected bungalow. (In England a bungalow is a single-story dwelling, (it helps when your first job is being a banker)). Hallway, reception room, 2 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen ~ and every room needed redecorating. The kitchen especially looked like something from the WWII era. In fact the kitchen looked like WWII had been fought in there.
There was central heating that didn’t work, and an Edison-vintage electrical system that did, although technically the lights were so dim they were darks. I had my clothes, two pieces of furniture that I stole from my folk’s place, (a beach chair and a mattress), my music, a tin plate and some cutlery.
The bungalow was close enough to the bank that I could walk in about 45 minutes. I sold my sports car, an Austin-Healey Sprite, bought a Reliant Robin three-wheeler van, and tried to work out what else I needed to buy with my sudden small stash of cash.
With cash burning a hole in your pocket there is always the temptation to buy things that will give you instant gratification, more records for example….. Well I gave in to a little of that and got myself a TV. The rest of the stuff I bought was more practical; a washer / dryer, some tools, an oven, bed linen, brushes and paint, cleaning cloths….. stuff like that.
Ripping out the entire kitchen was messy but satisfying ~ and the little van was useful for taking all the wreckage to the city dump. That thing did hundreds of miles on a teaspoon of petrol, (gas), and all the time I had it I never even opened the hood ~ of course eventually the poor thing fell apart. Later I learned about car mechanics, regular maintenance, giving love, care, and attention to everyone and everything in my life.
My life was pretty good until I had almost finished my professional examinations ~ then I experimented with dating. My first girl was older, curvy, blonde, great legs, and before I knew where I was she was leaving her stuff at my place and taking over. That first time living alone taught me three great lessons;
- Don’t spend money you haven’t got.
- Nobody is allowed into my place.
- Do everything for yourself.
As well as building a new kitchen I made all the furniture for that place. I still have some of it; decades later.
Some say you should never wrestle with an amoral woman. And, that if you do, you will get dirty. All I know is that she will like it.
one of the worst cars in the world
we realise we are all alone when we need others the most
Gary Cooper in High Noon
Discharged from hospital and back at the garret much earlier than I expected. At first it was very quiet and very strange in here, after the organised hustle and bustle at the hospital. It was also cold, the heating was off, maybe I turned it off before I left. The thing is, if you live alone you are completely responsible for what happens in your place.
The first time you try living alone can be both strange and exhilarating. In theory you can do whatever you want whenever you want. You can stay up late watching TV, or you might work through the night on your latest creative project with no threat of interruption. You can decorate your place however you like. If you want to be sexually promiscuous you can bring whomsoever you want back to your place, and if you want to smoke pot and drink all night you can do that too. You don’t have to clean the place except when it suits you, and if you want to you can stay in bed all weekend.
The astute among you may have noticed a worrying trend in what I’ve just said. If you live alone it’s very easy to lose control and start living the life of a lazy hedonist, and many who live alone adopt that lifestyle for the whole of the rest of their short, sad, dangerous, reprehensible lives. There is another issue with living alone, you will have a higher probability of developing a mental illness than those who live with someone else, as long as the someone else is congenial.
For most of the time I have lived alone I have stayed sane and safe, displaying self-control and a sense of self-worth, but….. every now and again I lost that control and became something of a hedonist alcoholic fool. The thing is, I have enough money to afford to be a hedonist alcoholic from time to time without worrying about my finances ~ and that’s a dangerous place to be.
Things will be different now, I have put some secure checks and balances in place, I’m in the process of building myself a much stronger support network, and most importantly I don’t really want to suffer that much pain, or be at Death’s door again. It’s all very well being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want, but it’s going to be much better if the things I do are worthwhile and benefit myself and others. Most of all, I need to look after myself; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I don’t want to find myself back in hospital, not knowing how I got there.
Some say they like to be alone, but hate to be lonely. And that it’s OK to live a life others don’t understand. All I know is that if you live alone you have nobody else to blame when things go wrong.
for some, living alone is very like being in solitary confinement.
I have no one to talk to, and I’m alone
With only one month to go until Christmas Day I’ve been thinking about all those people who will be lonely over this Festive Season.
In England this Christmas, one in five adults will be spending the day alone. And the Salvation Army say that almost a million elderly people, aged 65 and over, will be alone on Christmas Day, and most of them will be very lonely. Tradition and Hollywood both say that Christmas is a special time to spend with friends and family, and yet millions of people don’t even plan to leave their homes at Christmas.
If you are a mature adult the chances are that you have spent at least one holiday season by yourself. There are many possible reasons for this, you may live far away from family and old friends, you could have been divorced, or your relationship might have fallen apart, or you may have lost a loved one, or you may be suffering from your own problems such as alcoholism, drug addiction, severe mental illness….. Or it just might be that you had plans and for some reason they fell apart at the last minute.
This year I will be alone in the garret, and you can tick several of the reasons I’ve just mentioned as to the cause of my solitary Christmas. I wonder how many of you reading this will also be alone over the Festive Season, and how many will be spending it with an aching heart looking back at the mistakes of the past. Life can be viciously unkind, and not everyone we have ever met and loved was going to be worth the tears we shed. How many times do we have to say that we’re sorry for the things we have done or not done before we are forgiven? And when will we ever learn?
Not all need be doom and gloom if you are going to be alone at Christmas with nobody to talk to and nobody to even care. There are some positive things you can do;
- Don’t get drunk or high or take to much mood-altering medication.
- Don’t spend Christmas day unwashed, unshaven / not made up, with your hair uncombed, in dirty clothes or your night attire.
- Don’t stay in bed all day feeling unutterably melancholy or depressed.
- At least go out and take a short walk to some place that has special meaning for you.
- Make use of the empty streets to take some different photographs.
- Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself some positive self-talk.
- Trust yourself, even if nobody else does, things will get better, nothing stays melancholy and depressing forever.
- Contemplate the past, the present, and all possible futures while listening to some inspiring music.
- Cook yourself a special meal and be thankful that you are safe, warm, and eating well.
- Reach out to those you would have truly liked to be spending Christmas with.
- Clean up the administrative dross from this year, and make positive plans for the future.
Some say that Christmas Day is just another day. And that it’s not being alone that makes you lonely, it’s that nobody even cares. All I know is that I intend to make the very best of being on my own at Christmas.
Living alone is perhaps the ultimate expression of the alternative lifestyle, yet so many people now live a solitary existence in their home. Perhaps I have taken it a little far with my Rule # 2 Nobody Is Allowed Into The Garret. (The garret is what I call my small loft apartment.) Literally this means I never have house guests, dinner guests, lunch guests, random visitors, or girls I want to sleep with, in my place. My place is my space and I don’t want another person in my space.
There are upsides to this very solitary lifestyle. For example; nobody leaves their junk around, everything is tidy and clean, the garret is exactly the way I want it, I can do whatever I want when I want, and I never have to ask anyone if they’re happy with what I am doing or how I am doing it. If I need to paint the whole place black, then I will. As it happens the garret is completely decorated and furnished in white and natural wood.
You know, one of my fears about living alone so long is that you get used to doing everything your own way. ~ Terry McMillan
There are some downsides to my isolated and remote life. For example being seen as antisocial and reclusive, which I am anyhow. Other potential downsides include being; lonely, friendless, introverted, withdrawn, introspective, unsociable, and being literally without help in times of crisis.
Some people who live alone can develop some quite nasty habits, for example; never washing or changing their clothes, never cleaning the place, not eating properly, keeping strange hours, drinking too much, smoking too much, taking drugs, watching too much pornography, spending all of their time on-line… In fact, living alone can be dangerous for your health.
I have been guilty of some of these undesirable habits from time to time ~ particularly drinking too much and keeping strange hours.
Perhaps the most common characteristic of someone who lives alone is that we become far too reflective and thoughtful, too introspective, too philosophical and meditative, too broody and serious, too melancholy and solemn, and too set in our ways. This can lead to some serious mental health problems such as melancholic depression ~ luckily for me it’s mostly women who suffer from this treatment resistant disorder. My personal disorders are that I suffer from obsessive thinking ~ which I have always had, but then I have mostly always lived and worked alone.
Hungry people are always thinking about food; poor people are always thinking about wealth. Obsessive thinking can kill your dreams. ~ Stephen Richards
The ‘cure’ for living alone but not falling into these traps is to have an active life outside of your home. However, as I have discovered to my cost, taking the solitary lifestyle mindset outside the sanctuary of your own home can get you into serious trouble. What gets you into more trouble is if you flip from being solitary and introspective at home, into being extrovert and available outside of the home.