From years of bragging about and some experimentation with solo sailing my course came to an abrupt halt. All it took was an attractive male to offer companionship until we die for me to switch direction. As shallow as some might say the term attractive includes looks, demeanor, trustworthiness, and sense of adventure in that order. The offer of companionship was compelling ager insufferable loneliness and the fear of where it would lead.
Within days, maybe it even happened that day, it is too mushy in my mind to pinpoint the exact time. As soon as I realized my husband of 35 years died I fought with myself to ‘move on.’ Like many who suddenly find themselves widowed I became neurotically destined to start the life I had been dreaming about. That dream started years before I even met Danny. The two years following his death are a blur. I sold my sporty trimaran, bought a cruising one, sailed it to Bermuda, finished my school counseling career, decided sell my beach house, and devoiced myself of any unnecessary possessions.
Most nights I silently sobbed myself to sleep. Worse was when I would awaken to his shadow sitting on the bedside. Driving I would see his face in the clouds. Perhaps the pain of thinking he was gone from my life forever was so great it drove me to plan my great adventure. Then, one day, an unfamiliar smiling face appeared before me. Volumes are written about what causes attraction between two people. For me you could comically say it was like flies on _____. We dated, we had a lot of laughs, a lot of common ground.
From our second meeting this tall stranger made it clear his long distance sailing days were over. Eventually, we did some cruising and camping trips together. Then, he dumped me. Plain and simple, he sent me on my way. Like a true Gemini my personal twins were at odds. At first it was even. About half my day was spent reveling in pride for sailing my own little ship all by myself to far away places.
The other half of my days were spent in a state of what I call neurosis. I became obsessed with thoughts of my failed relationship. Why did it fail? How could it? More importantly, how could I mend the pieces and get us on the same course? I opened books and turned the pages. I talked to people I knew and people I was meeting. I wrote incessantly. I cleaned the boat. I shopped. Rarely, did I sleep more than an hour at a time. Worse, was that thoughts raced around, lapping each other. It was as if each thought was on a scrabble tile. No matter how I tried to finish a complete thought, never mind even finishing a complete sentence, the tiles were so scrambled I would literally shake my head to make my mind stop.
While setting my course for real, I was plagued with the demise of loneliness. Suicidal thoughts were immediately dismissed. I would think about solo sailor Donald Crowhurst. I wanted to live. I wanted to be sober. I wanted to feel loved. With Danny gone, I believed no one else would ever love me. That thought over rode every degree of longitude and latitude that I strived to sail to.
According to Wikipedia, loneliness is a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to isolation or lack of companionship. For me, it has become a scary emotion. I have friends and family who love me. But none have been able to give me the emotional security I need. Danny did that for me. Maybe one day I will feel that again.
Living aboard the metaphorical, s/v Coupleship with that attractive man who sailed into my life provides relief. Knowing that loneliness lives at death’s door and never knowing when death will knock, the fear of being alone hampers all that I do. That does not mean I live in sadness. Rather, I live in joy as Chopra Deepak and Oprah say, “I live with grace.” I write hand written notes of gratitude to others. It soothes my soul as well as the recipients. I smile often. Today, I slid down a rain soaked sliding board just to see if I would feel foolish or childish. I felt neither. But I sure had a good belly laugh. It felt good to just ‘let go.’
Learning about loneliness has not cured me from its demise. The research I review and the self evaluation I do teach me more about myself.
For a history of my solo sailing plans please visit my blog at http://www.seaknots.sassaman.com.