Solo Journey in a Coupled World
by Molly Brewer
Thirty-four years of marriage — over — in the blink of an eye, “I’m leaving” rolling off the tongue, connected to the increasing discontent that had left only this option. Despite the rightness of the decision, shock and grief become my new companions as I gather my resources and begin to let go, to heal, to move on. Four years later, moving on has taken on a look I could never have imagined.
What does a life evolve into after so many years of partnership, after imagining into the elder years with your life companion, sharing decisions together and caring for each other as the body ages? Can loneliness transform into essential aloneness, and can this be embraced? And where and how does a solo life fit into a coupled world? All new territory, for sure.
To begin with, I have realized there is no such thing as “starting over.” Perhaps the most fundamental and healing opportunity that has emerged is a gathering of all parts of myself, especially the parts I unknowingly gave away in the process of holding onto a marriage that no longer served either of us. As I have discovered this soul loss, I have invited and welcomed back those lost parts, and now, as I turn 65, I am experiencing a “coming home to myself,” a sense of wholeness that fills my very being. When thoughts or feelings of lack surface, I can remind myself I have everything I need, which has actually always been true but so easily forgotten, and I come back home to myself once again. I know that the universe, or spirit, or God, or whatever you call the life force, provides all I need, allowing me to more easily open to the unfolding of life as it presents itself.
It is in this spirit that T@DA showed up last Thanksgiving Day — a shiny bright red retro-looking little travel trailer on the side of the road with a For Sale sign on her. I asked my son to stop the car as I said: “That’s it!” — an instant knowing that this was my new traveling companion. About a year before, I began considering the idea of a little travel trailer but I had not begun an active search, though the idea was percolating. I also had learned about a group called “Sisters on the Fly,”(1) a growing gathering of women who have refurbished old trailers and come together to share and support each other in the fun, sisterhood, and independence of owning and caring for their own trailers. Spunky women! So am I, with just enough wildness left in me to live into that part of myself that yearns for more adventure. Yes! Yes! Yes!
And so the adventures with T@DA have begun. The first time out with her this spring, feeling both excited and quite intimidated, I thought, “I have no clue what I am doing.” This one-night maiden voyage, though, went well, and I was even able to back her into a parking space with little difficulty. Whew! First hurdle conquered. Second time out was at the Washington coast for a rally with other small-trailer owners, which proved to be a huge resource of information and collective experience, wisdom, and know-how. The third time out was to a small national forest campground on a raging river at the foot of Mt. Baker. It rained and didn’t matter, as I had a dry, cozy shelter and time to write this reflection. A solo hike, romping at the river’s edge with my Australian shepherd Brodie, and a deep sense of well-being all filled my heart.
I can have a rich, solo journey in a partnered world and not feel outside of things, but rather feel deeply connected to myself. Oddly enough, T@DA and I seem to be a magnet wherever we go, and I am connecting with people in the most unexpected ways. I am learning that I am enough, life is enough, there is plenty of joy to go around, and I truly do have everything I need. I am adding to the basket that holds all of my life experiences and, ironically, that basket feels a lot lighter than it ever did before. I am thriving in this new adventure and, as Robert Frost said, “I have miles to go before I sleep.”(2)