Five Minute Friday: Alone

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

‘Tis a gift, this writing life.

‘Tis a greater gift to know writers.

Kate. The scribblers, the dreamers, the thinkers and schemers. We are: alone.

Go.

And now I’m all alone again; nowhere to turn, no one to go to.

Without a home, without a friend, without a face to say “hello” to…

“On My Own” (lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg)

Go.

Eponine’s famous solo from the musical Les Miserables opens with these heart-rending lines. She wanders the streets of Paris, the air thick with the electricity of impending (and doomed) revolution. Her heart aches with unrequited love for Marius (the man who stupidly falls for the vapid Cossette, for no apparent reason other than her blonde hair). Eponine pours out her anguish, her voice bouncing, echoing, off of the River Seine.

Long has this been my favorite moment.

Jean Valjean’s plaintive “Bring Him Home” never fails to stir the audience. The (spoiler alert) death scene at the very end makes me cry every time. But there’s something about Eponine. Something about this woman, to whom life has been so cruel, that pulls at my soul.

Perhaps it is because I am well-acquainted with aloneness. After being in a crowd for longer than ten minutes, I crave it. Stop the noise, the smells, the jostling. Just let me be.

Yet this can be a dangerous thing. It can be more than aloneness.

How quickly loneliness moves in.

For months now I have been slowly isolating myself. Little by little. Choice by choice. Familiar enemies, sorrow and anxiety, wrapped me tighter and tighter in the softest of blankets. Lulled me into a place of numbness – until the numbness suddenly burst into a pain too great to bear.

There were no faces to say “hello” to, for I had turned them away. Out went the plea to my friends. Please understand and accept my strangeness. Please come to my house, eat chocolate and make fun of Donald Trump. I love you even if I can’t figure out how to say so.

This is the struggle of my life. This is the double-edged sword. I’m an off-the-charts introvert and there’s no doubt I need time to myself. I need to be able to process or just stare blankly at a wall. Equally do I need time with others. I need to be amongst my people, the men and women who, though far from perfect, have laughed with me, cried with me, kept me grounded. Each one is a good gift sent from the Father above.

No woman is an island.

No woman is meant to be all alone.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

I have to include a video of this gorgeous song. From the 25th anniversary concert.

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24 thoughts on “Five Minute Friday: Alone

  1. Oh my goodness. I can’t watch the video or I will cry. I love Les Mis so much. That was a great tie in! It’s so easy to isolate ourselves. I especially feel it as a homeschooling family. For a family of extraverts being alone is the hardest part of homeschool.

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    1. My husband is very extroverted, so I know something of the antsiness associated with being too much at home. I hope that you and yours get the chance to get out and enjoy some “crowd time” this weekend!

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  2. Wow, I thought I was the only one who dislikes Cossette that much. I too am acquainted with the loneliness on introversion. Beautiful piece and I hope you find the balance of alone and with friends each introvert struggles to obtain.

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  3. FAVORITE. Eponine is my girl. On My Own is my favorite Les Mis song.
    I understand this whole post to a tee. The introvertedness (to the point of isolation), the anxiety and numbness, the need to find the balance between community and me-time… all very prevalent things in my day-to-day. Community is something I have never been good at, and only started to see how desperately I needed it in college… when it was too late (right towards graduation, when everyone split off into adulthood). I’m still trying to find my place in community while giving myself the necessary introvert-refueling… sometimes I have to remind myself that in order to have said refueling me-time, there has to be a reason/event etc. to refuel FROM. But it’s so dang hard, especially when anxiety makes me want to curl in a ball and never leave my house again.
    Solidarity, my friend. love to you always!

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    1. “…sometimes I have to remind myself that in order to have said refueling me-time, there has to be a reason/event etc. to refuel FROM.”

      Such a good point!

      Being in community is tough. You have my complete and utter sympathies. As I advance deeper in to the third decade of life, I’m learning that it’s not about the number of people in my community, but the quality of people. Small talk bores and scares me, but I adore an in-depth conversation.

      I hope you find people to connect with here soon. You’re worth it!

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  4. What a vivid description of this two-sided tension. Thank you for describing it so accurately and eloquently. May you find your sweet spot in the balance of both/and, and in between.

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  5. Marie, my heart goes to you. It’s so easy to be lured by the lies anxiety and sorrow tell us, to be coaxed into the belief that only alone time will protect us. There is such a fine balance to filling our need for alone time but also growing through being in community with others. I loved what you said in an above comment about the value of quality people, rather than finding value in the quantity of people you surround yourself with. Great wisdom there, friend!

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    1. “A fine balance.”

      Like walking a tight-rope, really. I swing from isolation to filling every spare moment and back again. Honestly, it was easier when I was able to take medication that helped clear my mind. But! There is always grace and a new day. 🙂

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  6. Marie, I so get you here. I too am an introvert and need alone time. But I also crave being with my people. No one is an island for sure. A camp song I know goes like this: “No one is an island, no stands alone, each ones joy is joy to me, each ones grief is my own. We need one another.So I will defend each one ad my neighbor. Each one as my friend.”

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  7. Wow, Marie. You’re braver than a hundred Spartans.

    I’m isolated, too, but in a sense the illness that has marooned me on this mesa has returned me to the ascetic nature that is the core of my being. I’m comfortable with this; my world revolves around God and his anagram, dog (s).

    There’s a lot of carryover, from one to the other, and meditating on the creation of a perfect companion animal could keep one theologically busy for years. To wit…Ladron, Service Dog In Chief, will hide tools if she thinks I should not try to do any work.

    He assistant, Sylvia the Big Pit Bull (whose picture is my avatar), knows how to turn off and unplug power tools to prevent their use.

    I didn’t teach them that, and I’m pretty sure Barbara didn’t either.

    Sorry. Where was I?

    Ah, yes. We are not meant to be alone…or should I say, largely away from human company…except if we are. God disposes.

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    1. I love your dog stories. One of my own faithful companions, Blue the ADHD Weiner Dog, is curled up next to me right now. Benny the Fat Pomeranian-Chihuahua snores on the loveseat. God did indeed richly bless us when He made these furry beasts.

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      1. We have a Weiner Dog! Her name’s Bray, and she’s best pals with everyone.

        I call her a Weiner Dog because I can’t spell Dakshund…uh, Doxhound…oh, never mind.

        I have no trouble with Rawalpindi, or Mangosuthu Buthelezi, but my own dog’s breed…sheesh.

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  8. Marie – I get this. In a younger life, I put myself in the center of things…but I found, as I grew older, that the all-over shaking and jittery heart and breathing, the palpitations I’d get, were something called anxiety. I’m good around people if I can sit and watch, or talk about their lives – but panic comes if I don’t get that alone-time to recharge and redirect. My husband and my daughter are my world – it’s hard, sometimes, to let others in. Funny how it seems easier to publish our inner thoughts to the blogosphere than to say them out loud. Your words, as always, lead me to think deeply.

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  9. Ok, where do you live? I’m coming over with chocolate, do you drink wine? And, we will make fun of the Donald, I can do that you know because I worked for him (did you read my blog this week?). Love you. Praying for you. Feeling you. I get it. You are my younger self. xoxoxo

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    1. I’m behind on my blog reading, so I didn’t catch that post. You worked for Donald Trump?! HAVE to go and read that right now!

      And thank you for your kindness.

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  10. Marie, honesty has a way of opening us up to receive the healing and freedom we need from the Lord. Thanks for such a beautiful and honest post! I’ve missed chatting with you lately. I’ve been swallowed by homeschooling! (But I’m slowly coming out..) :).

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  11. OMG! I totally can relate to being an introvert and YES it’s like a double edge sward! But the more I say Yes you the Father, the morehe eases me out of my comfort zone. Thankyu for sharing
    Thasia from #fmf party

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  12. I love my alone time, but I have to remember not to dwell there. Because sometimes it’s comfy and easy and risk-free, and it’s easy to get stuck there. But we aren’t meant to be alone. We meant for community, for the lifting up and falling down that happens. It takes risk, and it can be scary and awkward and uncomfortable, but we need it. Because like you said, no woman is meant to be an island!

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