Why Aloneness Is A Path To Recovery

Photo by elBidule

“Solitude is where one discovers one is not alone.”
—Marty Rubin

During my time of despair, some magical things started to happen. Extraordinary people came into my life exactly when I needed them.

They appeared out of nowhere, just for the purpose of pushing me in the right direction before they disappeared again.

Do you remember what I have mentioned my distant relative said back then? After initiating my recovery with one single question, I would not see him for a long time.

There was another person who said something to me just a few months after the break-up happened that I will never forget. It was an excruciatingly painful time back then, during which all I tried to do was just survive another day.

This person – who I met under mysterious circumstances – said to me:

“Build yourself a cozy home within yourself.”

What the heck was that supposed to mean? I had no clue what it meant.

It was months later before I finally understood the meaning of that sentence.

“My eyelids are my own private cave, he murmured. That I can go to anytime I want.”
—Aimee Bender (The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake)

In my coaching, (and in my Course), I’m trying to urge people towards learning to be alone after a breakup.

The problem is that nobody really wants to do that – it is one of the main characteristics of being human, that we seek company. Especially the company of someone we love and respect.

We are social animals who love to be near the ones we love. We don’t want to be seen as “weirdos” who walk the cities alone or act like lonesome wolves hiding in their dens.

So, we develop tools to avoid being alone at all costs. We use texting and emailing to cheat ourselves into constant company – obsessive social networking as an avoidance technique against the loneliness.

When I say that learning to be alone is important for your recovery, it is crucial to make a distinction here:

You should avoid alone-time at all costs during the first weeks, especially during the excruciating 60 days of no contact. Distracting yourself and seeking the company of others minimizes the danger being caught in the harmful “vicious cycle of thoughts.”

(MORE: The Vicious Cycle Of Your Memories)

But as you progress further on your road to recovery, you will reach a point where you have to face what can at times be a very unpleasant experience – your own self.

It was for me.

Even though I consider myself an introvert – and we introverts get our energy out of being alone – it was an extremely frightening and very intimidating experience.

I felt an incision of separation as if I were stranded on a different galaxy, alone, desperate. It was like I was cut off from all of humanity.

You may well know how it feels.

But very soon, with a little practice, I recognized the opportunity that lies within this first terrifying aloneness.

What is the difference between aloneness and loneliness?

Before we continue, it is important to understand the difference between aloneness and loneliness, so that we can appreciate the advantages of practicing aloneness in break-up recovery.

The main distinction is that loneliness often goes in conjunction with a feeling of emptiness – an emptiness that urgently needs to be filled with another person’s nearness.

Loneliness is a lack of something you think you need. It’s a state of misery, an open wound.

Whereas aloneness is merely the state of NOT being with other people, absent of any essential requirements.

When you are alone, there is no one around. When you are lonely, then there very well may be other people around you.

Lonely in the crowd… what a poetic thought.

Knowing that it appears that we have only to gain in aloneness – once we manage to achieve this state of being by separating it from loneliness.

And here lies the main difficulty – to be alone and NOT be lonely.

Once we learn to do that, it is a direct path that leads to the “real you.”

Someone who can enjoy aloneness can enjoy anything.

Please watch this terrific video from Andrea Dorfman as a shining example that being alone doesn’t have to be “weird”:

Why can aloneness aid your Recovery?

One vital state of your recovery process after a separation is to re-discover your true self, the person that you really are – stripped naked from all the fear, false compromises and heavy baggage you may have carried over from your last relationship.

I call this healing process the “Emotional Ex-Detox.”

There are some tools I recommend in my coaching and book to reach this state of personal freedom, one of which are tools to find your life-purpose.

But one of the preconditions of the “Emotional Ex-Detox,” is that you can identify and listen to your “own voice.” And this is ONLY possible in aloneness, stillness, and meditation.

If you can avoid the “white noise of society,” blend everything else out, the one thing that remains is YOU.

It’s simple mathematics.

As I’ve said, this was very frightening for me. I was forced to face the suppressed demons from my past. But once I faced them, the real recovery work started.

The discovery of aloneness helped me to realize that there is comfort in my inner voice and that I, in fact, don’t need anyone else to be happy.

I am complete and “at home” with myself.

That is what the guy I met so long ago was talking about. The “cozy home” within myself is always there when I need it. A safe place I can always come to.

Practicing Aloneness

“Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that’s where I renew my springs that never dry up.”
—Pearl Buck

I invite you to a small act of bravery.

I invite you to find a place of quiet and close the door. Turn off all electronic communication devices, turn off the door-bell – be completely unreachable.

Unplug yourself from the world.

Trust me; you will survive.

Sit down, close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. Notice the air flowing in and out of your lungs. Notice your chest rise and fall while you breathe gently.

Now, count every inhale and make it your goal to reach 10 counts without having distracting thoughts.

Do this daily and consistently for 5-10 minutes.

That’s it.

You will notice that this isn’t at all easy, especially in the beginning. You most likely won’t be able to reach the count of ten without “wandering off.”

But with time and practice, you will start to cherish these daily minutes of solitude, these “escapes to within,” and fully appreciate its advantages.

Again, don’t do this when you are still at the beginning of your break-up. Don’t start practicing aloneness until you’ve completed the 60 days of No-Contact, and not before you’ve reached a certain degree of mind-control.

Conclusion

Aloneness is NOT loneliness. It is a state of purity and your essential being.

Practicing aloneness takes exercise and patience. But it’s so worth it – a skill that will improve your life and give you stability.

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t want you to become a loner. I just want you to dedicate a short time frame per day practicing “controlled” aloneness.

I want you to use it as a tool to escape the “society madness,” and spend quality time with yourself, getting to know yourself better.

Knowing and loving yourself - this is the ultimate weapon to survive any emotional turmoil... like a break-up.Click To Tweet

Just try it, and tell me how it went in the comment section below.

Your friend,
Eddie

  • Hi Eddie,

    Just to express my thanks for this inspiring website. I find comfort in knowing that there are people around the globe who are still keen on helping distress in love.

    I surely feel all the articles on breakup and hope, although cant help to be pessimistic and bitter. I still have loads of questions on mind, why my relationship failed, when i believe I had done my fair share.

    I find hope reading your success in building yourself and having a wonderful marriage now.

    Again, thanks indeed for touching lives and spreading hope across all age, gender, nationalities…

    Kudos to you…

    • Thank you for your kind words… and you are so welcome.

      Take the time you need, it takes as long as it takes. Some questions will be answered, most will become irrelevant. Make the recovery about YOU and not about your Ex.

      Hang in there!

      Your friend,
      Eddie

      • eddie…

        hope u remember me. its been 4 years since i broke up. it almost took 1 and half year to forget her and move on. well, looking through the past i feel i have grown up to be a fine man and matured enough. Some point of time i feel i needed this and it benefited me in lot of ways… so this a msg to all who r suffering.. hold on.. give it a time to heal. I know the pain and i have lived through it. and i am sure as time passes we all will be fine…

        regards

        rosh

        • hi, just happened to read your message. its a good inspiration to everyone… keep on moving and best of luck….

  • It’s been about 40 days of No Contact since my partner of 8 years left me for someone else. I’m feeling less connected to my ex over time but I still get lonely. I have found things to distract me and ways to replace those things that we shared in other ways e.g. listening to CDs or mp3s rather than listening to him play guitar, reading political biographies rather than talking to him about it, etc. But I miss the physical intimacy and touch (even as simple as getting a cuddle when I’m sad) and don’t know what to do about that. I seem to be eating badly for comfort and gaining weight like a protective layer but I don’t want to do that anymore. Any ideas?

  • Eddie Corbano, you are my hero!
    Whenever I feel down, I have a look at your wonderful and well written articles.
    Merci!

    David (Belgium)

  • Hi Eddie,

    Its Day 1 of NC and the 4th day of a painful breakup. I live in an asian country with a plethora of races and cultures. My ex and i were of different races and cultures. We went 1 year and 2 mths with only telling my folks. They were cool about it. We discussed telling her folks and we knew it would be uphill struggle with them but promised to fight for each other. The day before she told them, we said our good nights and our i love yous and the very next morning my relationship had ended. Her parents failed to approve of us and she decided to end it with me. It hit me hard, when our mutual friends told us that in the past few days she’s been going around talking about our issues to them. This makes the whole reason of her parents being the reason the breakup a huge question mark. It makes me realize that she simply wanted out and this was an excuse for her. It’s heart wrenching and mentally draining. After talks and hours of reflection i know now. She’s simply just not worth my time. The pain and hurt is raw but i am trying my best to move on. I have completed Day 1 of NC. I’d like to thank you for your words on your blog, its been an inspiration.

  • My breakup is less than one week. Most of the things I’ve been reading seem to be about people who were “dumped” but I find that I am not the person who was dumped, yet I’m struggling with the same issues as if I had been dumped. It was not easy to leave. I so badly wanted it to work and be with this man I chose for life. We had alot of practice to get ready for the end because he would leave at the point where there was disagreement or conflict or when his communication or change in behavior was required. Some times he would leave for days and come back with so much remorse and sorrow and I would take him back. So much “practice” in being left and alone is what I had. I find that even though it’s early on, I still think about “what if we could try again and make it work?” despite all the times we tried. My head knows I cannot go back, my heart is taking time to catch up, but I don’t contact him and I won’t. This feels different because I’m leaving him alone completely despite the urges and I’ve explained clearly to him that I want a divorce. I know that you say to wait until 60 days of no contact to avoid being alone, however, I have become some what of an introvert but am not unhappy about that and find that while I dread going home after work, I don’t want to avoid it by filling the space and aloneness with other people and activities. I want to face it head on so that I can move through this discomfort and grief and become comfortable again in my own home…only by myself now. Is there harm in doing that before the 60 days? Thank you so much for your website. I don’t know how I stumbled across your website exactly but I did and at that perfect moment in time. Isn’t it funny how that works in life? Your site and words of experience have turned my moments of true despair into moments of clarity, sanity and direction. I come here now when I’m having a bad moment or day. So thank you. I believe that I can get through this and am allowing myself to grieve, feel and each moment I can do that, brings me closer to where I want to be, despite the fear, tears and multitude of emotions. Thank you again!

  • What a positive site. I keep coming back. It’s helped me so much because its so proactive and positive. Thanks so much. You don’t know how much it’s helped

  • I really enjoyed reading this article and watching the video. Reading this gives me a different perspective of being alone during breakup recovery. Aloneness is actually a very precious part of us and it gives us great power to feel satisfied with being alone. I’ve been feeling consumed with recurring thoughts and memories when I’m by myself. And they cause me a lot of pain and sadness. At times, I felt terrified of being by myself because my mind would constantly bring back thoughts of pain and misery. Now, I am determined to build my little cozy home within myself.

  • sarah bullock says:

    early days for me, but reading all the posts is giving me hope it,ll get easier. Will keep u posted.

  • I don’t know exactly what to say.. My boyfriend for a year wants space and time for himself. I can’t give him what he wants cause I’ve been really emotionally dependent on him. I said things that might hurt his ego, downgrading things. I am supposed to lift him up but I’m pushing him down.. and now he finds me irritating.. I don’t know what to do.. All I can do is cry no matter how I remind myself every now and then not to, but I still do.. I don’t know where to start and that’s my struggle.. No official break up yet, I approached him, talked to him, begged… but at the end of the day I can’t get him back, and it hurts a lot… this feeling’s killing me..

  • I’m into third month and still struggling. But I’ve read all this a couple of times now and I kinda get it, I will try and look at this opportunity in a different way.

  • As you all know tomorrow will be one of the hardest days for us who is in pain when i think about it tears fill my eyes and the pain come sit in my heart .Me and my ex-fiance use to celebrate Valentines day every year and now people are raging about it everywhere all over the world and it seems like they forget about us who have no one to spoil us tomorrow and who are heart broken and in so much pain especially when we are the ones who never deserved to be treated and hurt in that way .What hurts me most is i know he will be with her buy her things like he did with me and it hurts like hell .Will the pain ever stop why does it comes and goes strong the one day and feel so weak the next.

    • Zady: it’ll be ok. I know it’s sad, but don’t let it being you turn far down. You’ve sustained an injustice. Fight back by tearing yourself as good as possible. I’ll think of you, and I wish you a fine Valentine.

      • Made mistakes in my earlier reply. I meant don’t let sadness “bring” you down too far and to fight back by “treating” yourself as good as possible. And I still do!

  • After 8 years its strange how someone can just decide they don’t love you like they used to ,left me and my daughter 2weeks before the wedding for someone else .I have been on NC for 3weeks until a few days ago when he called to ask for his child he called the next day i picked up and he neva called again until the usual Monday morning guilty conscious of him bothers me again by sending instant messages asking about her .I can promise you the best thing is to keep no contact i was busy healing when picking up the phone brought me 3 weeks back to where i was .Thanks Eddie for the advice like they say we hear that Nc is the best way but sometimes we just don’t listen and its the only thing that’s gonna help you to get over that person even if it means keeping the kids away so that you can heal whether he abandon her is his problem but i need to build a future with my daughter and in order to do that i need her mom to be happy.So Thanks Eddie

    There’s a saying that says “rather cry now cause you’ve lost him instead of crying later cause you with them.”

    • Very wise closing to your post. Eddie has been there.

      I have a special, shall we say, distaste for people who dump others when they are so close to the altar. I am sorry that this happened to you. You have a child, you have a life–don’t let this take you down too far. Build and fortify a life without him, and whatever you do: DON’T TAKE HIM BACK, IF HE ASKS. The answer should be a resounding and eternal “no” for this profound rupture and disrespect. You do not want to be with someone who can do such a thing to another. There is no need for anyone to marry someone they don’t want to. But I think you can develop the stones to tell them long before the wedding. It’s inexcusable.

      Usually, I am a little sweeter and gooier about these endings–cut a little slack, if possible, blah blah. But like I said—at the altar??? I don’t think so. That DIDN’T happen to me, or I assure you, you would have been getting this message from jail. Mine was bad enough.

      You sound pretty good, and that’s good. Keep up the fine work. Know that there are resources like this one, which is excellent. And there are people all around you who have been there and have borne this pain. And they’ve overcome. This is a shared experience that can open you heart and mind to the world, if you let. Let it. You deserve it.

      I send you my best wishes always!!

      • Hi Sandy thanks for the aspiring words it makes it feels okay that you are not alone on this part that people all over the world knows the pain ure going through.

  • What a difficult exercise! My mind can’t seem to get away from her, even though she ripped my heart out. 14 years of marriage and she doesn’t want to be married anymore! But she wants to be friends. It’s been 8 months and I’m still torn, hurting, lonely. Slowly distanting myself, for some reason I haven’t the intestinal fortutide to hold out the 60 days. I read/re-read and read the Ex Detox and listen to the Ex Detox meditation, and I feel better, but haven’t the guts to actually follow it. Why? I don’t know. I think I’m too sensitive…weak perhaps. I must say that this article and that video of an awesome lady has resonated. This will be my focus, without forcing. I think that might be part of the problem. I’m trying to force myself to be “better” without putting in the work! FOCUS MAN!!! that’s what I’m trying to tell myself. Eddie has said it before, “you will not heal by time alone, you have to want and work for it,” my paraphrase, sorry Eddie. I keep getting the emotional pangs, bouts of sadness and longing. Does she, no. She’s happy and tells me so. Let’s all get on board with Eddie here. He’s just trying to help, but he can’t do it alone. Eddie, you (and me) have my support. I will focus myself on your book (THANK YOU FOR THAT), your website (AGAIN, THANKS), and the mind Detox. I’ve got to get over this and learn to be alone and not lonely!

    • Thank you Kevin.

      You are on the right path… sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration, a small thought even to jump-start your healing.

      Now start the 60 days and don’t stop until you’ve checked off every single day… I am there for you…

      Your friend,
      Eddie

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