There are some practical challenges to being single and living alone. Weekends for me are particularly difficult. I do try make sure I see a friend at least once over a weekend. If I don’t do that I can spend the 60+ hours between leaving work on a Friday and returning on Monday morning, with no quality interactions. My budget doesn’t allow me to invite more than a couple over for a meal or for more than an occasional coffee in town, so socialising as a means to being with others is limited for me.
Coming home from work to an almost empty house (thankfully I have dogs who love unconditionally!) can be challenging, especially on days like today when I’ve had a particularly stressful situation at work. While I don’t need therapy over it, having someone to just chat to while cooking or eating supper would be really lovely. Yes, I can phone a friend. But sometimes that feels difficult when I know people are busy with their family evening routines. And that phone call somehow feels that it’s making the issue bigger than it is. All I really want is someone to say how was your day, to notice that I might be more tired or happy or stressed or whatever than usual, and just be able to share about our day together. Please, this is not about having a husband! It’s just an observation of living alone.
This might sound really silly, but another aspect of living alone is that anything and everything that needs to be done in the house falls to me. The lawn needs to be mown? Yep, I’ll do that. Grocery shopping? Yes sir! That’ll be my responsibility this week. And next week. Supper to be cooked…drain unblocked…rubbish taken out…dog vomit to be cleaned up…whatever, I’ll do it. I’m a pretty responsible person, and I have no problem with any of the jobs that need to be done in life. But sometimes it can feel overwhelming when there are lots of chores on the list and there is nobody with whom to share the load. And then there are finances. I know that I am privileged to be independent and able to give wherever I choose. But as a single person, I shoulder the financial responsibility for everything. I think that most couples would share the financial load of running a home without necessarily doubling the cost. It all adds up! Beyond the bank balance, there is nobody with whom I can share financial questions or struggles without those people potentially feeling they need to help me. Planning for the future, looking at pensions, working out how to give more generously or make ends meet are challenges I would appreciate having someone to be in with me. One last challenge for today relates to holidays (vacations). The irony of having freedom as single people to please ourselves and go wherever we want to on holiday is that it is often a struggle to find someone with whom to go on holiday. Of course we can join a group and make new friends. But you know what? If I were to go on holiday I’d rather not have to spend my time with a bunch of strangers trying to find out who I connect with. I’d rather go with people I know, where I can relax and be myself.
As I’ve been reflecting on these challenges lately, I think an overarching theme for me is that I often feel unseen. While many of the issues I’ve mentioned are private, families often get to share them together in the privacy of their home. Those private issues in my life are for me and Jesus to work out together. And while Jesus is a great comfort, guide and companion, it sometimes helps to have people. After all, Jesus has never mowed the lawn or helped take the rubbish out. What is the solution? I know this is my journey of trusting fully that Papa God sees. He sees me. He knows me. He loves me. He is with me. It is about me knowing that He is enough and I am enough. But maybe that deep journey of mine doesn’t need to be separated from the journey with friends, old and young, single, families, divorced or whoever might want to connect along the way.
It is about me knowing that He is enough and I am enough. But maybe that deep journey of mine doesn’t need to be separated from the journey with friends, old and young, single, families, divorced or whoever might want to connect along the way.
So if I were to make a request of my friends, particularly those who are not single, I would say, please remember your single friends. Please include us. Please make your needs known so we can support you. Please remind us that we are seen.
Mail to Ruth Israel