I love Autumn; falling leaves, cosy jumpers, warm fires. However, one of the downsides is the growing number of restaurants advertising Christmas and New Year parties. Party dresses pop up in the shops, sparkly and beautiful, impossibly high-heeled shoes and recipes for canapés.
For many and complex reasons, over the last six or seven years I have increasingly lost my confidence and ability to relate to people and build friendships. Gradually, those who I met for coffee and lunch in carefree days have slipped away, and the invitations to New Year parties dried up many years ago. My husband revels in his introverted nature, peacefully enjoying solitary bike rides, but for me, being an introvert and sensitive is a painful experience.
Ironically, I am currently engaged in a year long study looking at how people relate to each other, and while this often brings to the surface difficult feelings, it can sometimes provide clues that help me to cope. The spiritual writer Henri Nouwen writes about moving from loneliness to solitude, an attitude that accepts alone-ness while recognizing that we are part of something much larger than ourselves. Solitude has a peacefulness about it that isn't self-judgmental or negative, but mindful of the world and the beauty around us.
So while I journey from loneliness to solitude, I am thankful for the company of my husband, and we have agreed to plan our own New Year party – who says parties need more than just two?
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