Alone in a crowd

I have noticed after this summer of hiking that I never feel lonely up north. You would think I would feel lonely, tramping around in the woods all by myself. I have spent days without talking to another person, other than a quick hello to some stranger on the trail. I do miss my kids and grandkids after a while and need to get home for a hug from Charlotte and Lilly! Then I am ready to be alone again.

This is a strange realization for me because I used to seek out people to talk to in any situation.  Barry and I were pretty good at being around groups of people. At parties, we usually separated and did our own thing. At book events, he would talk to everyone, often calling himself Mr. Nancy Carlson. I loved that about him! He was always comfortable in any crowd.

Years ago, we took the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) that our church offered to married couples. Barry’s results really surprised me. I learned that he was more of an introvert, getting energy from being alone. I was the opposite. I got my energy from being with people. It’s odd that I have chosen a career in which I am alone in a studio all day. Maybe this explains why I have always loved speaking at schools and being at parties or events where I could be with people. I even used to be that irritating person on the plane who chatted all the way to our destination!
Now that I am on my own, I can’t figure out how to go to events and have fun. If I am invited to a party or a book event, I always go with high hopes of having a good time. But I usually end the evening feeling weepy or calling a good friend late when I get home to talk about how sad I felt. I have discovered at this point of my life that it is much more lonely to be in a crowd of people.

Maybe I just need to get used to it or find a new way to make it fun. It dawned on me while driving home from a book reading recently that maybe I keep heading north to escape feeling lonely in a crowd. It just doesn’t feel lonely up there even though I spend entire days without talking to one soul. I never expected this.

I am trying to figure out where I fit in now. I have not been a single person for at least 40 years. Part of me knows that I should keep pushing myself to go out and do things, but then I remember how nice it feels to hike all day by myself. Maybe I have fundamentally changed at age 62. Maybe now my energy comes from solitude. I kind of hope so because the leaves are changing color now and there are some trails to be hiked alone!

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9 comments on “MY JOURNEY – Alone
  1. Christine bekiares says:

    I so much admire your ability to talk through your thoughts. Sometimes we all realize that times have changed as well as the circumstances of our lives. Enjoy the solitude. And seek out friends when you wish to. Our lives did not come with an instruction manual. I find in my own children a strong sense of resiliency. That is what we have to face the more difficult and unexpected challenges. Keep moving forward. You are an inspiration to me and to many others!

  2. Beth-Ann Bloom says:

    and maybe you are not ready to give yourself permission to enjoy and have fun without your delightful Barry-such is the pain of losing someone who is still here.

  3. carol kellogg says:

    I know how you feel but being at the lake and on a dock the solitude is wonderful. You inspire a lot of us. You’ll be ok Nancy!

    • KathleenArp says:

      Nancy, I did not know ou lost your husband, too. I lost my Dudley in January after 27 years. I understand totally the feeling of who am I. The need to be alone. And the feeling lonely. Please except my prayers for God’s peace for you..Kathy

  4. Ann Hustad says:

    So sweet.. Bittersweet.. You are an inspiration..sending love

  5. Nancy Glades says:

    Alone in a crowd resonates with me. You’re doing a lot of grieving for Barry, for the life you had, for your economic security. I think that’s keeping your mind and heart busy regardless of who you’re with… sometimes you just need to get away and give it some room, and some time. Blessings to you in this hard journey.

  6. Mary says:

    You are such a delightful person to be with. I enjoyed your class so very much. For myself, I love being with people when we are working on something. Idle chit chat can get kind of mind numbing. Solitude walks in the woods sound absolutely heavenly!

  7. pam knutson says:

    I have soup that needs a home Nancy – if you are pondering going up North again please let me know. I love feeding you! xox Pam

  8. Linda Burk says:

    I look forward to your words of wisdom. You capture in words what one is afraid to feel. Thank you!

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