It's Okay To Be Alone

By: Sheri Loring (girlfriend of Alex)

Context: Sheri wrote this in late 2016. I met her in mid-2022 and we became romantic in late 2022.

Let's face it: at one point or another in our lives, everyone on this planet has felt what it's like to be alone. Some people have no issues with that and even enjoy their own company. For others being alone can truly alter their state of consciousness and almost make them paranoid. I know it applies to me.

Back up a minute. How can something so simple as being alone so negatively affect you? All you're doing is sitting in a room by yourself. That's no big deal right? Impossible question. There's no right or wrong answer to this because no one person views the world exactly the same. Their trains of thought could be similar, but never parallel.

In my unique situation it all started once I started going to school. As a child, I had slight autistic tendencies and anybody who has heard of autism knows that it can impair your communication skills. Add social anxiety into the mix as well and you get a pretty bad combination. It's shyness times one hundred.

I never knew what I was going to get everyday. If anybody did bother to try and talk with me, I usually just stood there and went along with what they said because I truly didn't know how to make conversation. It was like anything else you had to learn because the autism took away what came naturally.

As you would probably imagine this confused the other children and they didn't understand that I was a bit different inside. Unfortunately, where I live the majority of kids weren't really taught how to be accepting of their peers, nor taught them about what autism is and this resulted in me getting bullied heavily. If I ever caught my own child saying half the things these kids said to me I wouldn't have it and make them apologize immediately. Kids can be very cruel.

The results of being bullied had scarred me horribly. In response, my social anxiety grew to the point I feared approaching anyone. I was constantly worrying about what they thought about me because of what the other children would say. Because of this, I have such a hard time trying not to care what others think today . But still, I've made progress. It felt like I never got the chance to just focus on Sheri. No matter what, something was always wrong and I wanted to fix it.

Now, I realize just how bad that mindset was. Another thing about autism is that it makes you very innocent and naive about alot of things. It doesn't mean you're stupid or dumb, you just need a statement to be said in a more literal form of words to pick up what they're trying to say because your brain needs a little bit more help understanding. It can also go the opposite, where I word something and it's interpreted entirely different than my intentions.

One example is when I was about fifteen, I told a friend once if she were pregnant I wouldn't be there for her. In my mind I thought I was just doing the right thing because I had been raised to think that teenage pregnancy is wrong and I didn't want to be around it. She of course thought I was being rude and a bad friend like anyone would. I didn't understand how it sounded then and immediately apologized once my mom explained that to me. I was so embarrassed and felt awful about it.

I've gotten a lot better about this thankfully and only rarely slip up nowadays on little things. Have you ever heard somebody say that a person has lied about being autistic for an excuse to be mean? That's a lie in of itself normally. Usually it's because of what I just talked about and once the connection is made, we try to make up for it if the other person will allow us that chance. Remember that we can't help it if it happens and to just be patient.

Anyway, I've realized that I didn't allow myself to just focus on me. I thought it would be selfish and ended up taking in all the bullying instead. I wasn't brave enough to stand up for myself due to my innocence. About 2/3 of the time I was homeschooled because I couldn't handle it. I'd wake up in fear and come home crying wondering what was wrong with me. Not fun.

All of this ties back to the original topic on my behalf. I hated being alone for obvious reasons and it got me into so much trouble on multiple occasions. Being that I didn't have a lot of friends, whenever somebody would give me a chance I took it even if that person wasn't neccessarily a good friend. You don't realize it's happening until afterwards because you're so caught up in feeling the false positives like finally some attention around here or somebody isn't making fun of me for once. While I would never beg for attention it felt nice when I got it with what I was going through. Sometimes that worked and other times didn't because I hadn't experienced what it was like to have a fake friend.

I did that with a relationship as well unfortunately. I was jealous for a while that almost all my friends had a partner except for myself and I felt even more alone. When it did finally happen all I could focus on was that a male noticed me and that temporarily boosted my confidence. He told me all the things I wanted to hear and I developed a deep infatuation. Needless to say, he broke my heart. Now though, I'd rather be told if I were truly wrong because he cared about my wellbeing.

These two experiences truly changed my life and who I am as a person, so I would like to share them here. The first time it happened was ninth grade. My parents made the decision to give public school another chance for me hoping some of the other children would be decent now that we were all in high school. Once we decided where I would be going, I remembered a girl I met at a church I attended briefly who had been incredibly sweet to me, and she went to that school. So I decided to call her. We reunited in band class on the first day and things could've never been better. I won't give out names, but let's refer her to her as A.

As time went by, A, slowly revealed her true colors. It turned out she had a severe case of bipolar disorder and got moody in the blink of an eye. Just like with bullying, I would get on the bus everyday unsure of what I was going to get from her on top of dealing with other teenagers. The only other person around was my childhood friend and bus buddy S, but he had been three grades behind so I didn't have him at school to hang out with. I still feel bad for all the days he had to calm me down because of A being in a mood or getting bullied. If you're reading this S, thanks for being there.

A, basically took advantage of my innocence. I was vulnerable and she made me her target. I put up with it for three reasons: one being that I was alone and had nobody else at school, second I always believed in her, then thirdly I became truly afraid of her and what she was capable of. When we first met she was a completely different person and I held on to that version of her for the longest, because I always try to see the best in others. Obviously, I'm more careful of judging people now. I let this go on far too long for about two and a half years until she had backstabbed me enough that I finally snapped out of it.

One good example about the whole A situation is I was at a basketball game to perform with the band at halftime and I got a text from my best friend J. J has always been the true best female friend I could ever have and she's stuck with me through everything even when I'd been manipulated by A. She's that friend who's never truly left and if she did leave physically we always somehow stayed close through the power of calls, texting, and the Internet. Our freshman year, she lived in a different town and went to another school. Anyway, her parents had been talking about moving out of state for a little bit and the text clarified it was finally happening.

The band wasn't due to play yet so I ran out of the gym and burst into tears. My best friend was moving even further than she already had, and I didn't know how to deal with that. As I was running A chased behind me. When we got into the hallway she got really angry and said that I was an embarrassment to the high school band. She told me to snap out of it and grow up that things like this happen all the time. How else are you supposed to react when somebody you love was moving over six hundred miles away? Also the band comment really got to me because my family was known by our director. My brother and sister-in-law played in the band when they were in high school, and now S (who's my SIL's brother) is currently playing as the head trombonist.

Even though she did it in the worst way possible, A did calm me down and I apologized to our band director. Thankfully he understood, as well as give me tips on how I could keep in contact with J. I couldn't believe this had been the same girl from almost a year ago then, that gave me a hug and called me her new "sister" at church. It was like she'd turned into a monster right before my eyes. I just don't understand how somebody could be so mean and it makes me sick. If I'm ever truly rude, it's usually because the other person said or did something and I have a good reason to be so. It takes a lot to anger me but when you do let's just say you'll most likely be full of regret.

Fast forward to earlier this year and that's when I met the guy who I was deeply infatuated with, H. We met on an online game I used to play a long time ago and I had been on it for nostalgic purposes with a friend. I was helping another player and he noticed how nice I'd been. We went somewhere private in the game to talk, eventually he asked about being friends on Facebook and our conversations extended over to there. As it turned out he was autistic as well so we really bonded with that similarity. Soon after that H admitted he had a crush on me and thought I looked gorgeous in my profile picture. I definitely was caught by surprise when he said that. I figured why not give it a shot.

H had other issues in addition to autism and I believe his diagnosis was alot more severe than my own. We would fight a lot due to him being easily triggered, but other than that, things were okay. He ended up only being three hours away from me so a family member was kind enough to bring him to my high school graduation. At this point in time is when issues really started. I remember walking through a lobby to line up with the other students and I saw him standing there waiting to get inside the auditorium. I instantly looked away before he could see me staring, but not because I was trying not to get caught like any other girl when she's placed in the same room as her crush, but because I knew I wasn't physically attracted to him.

Oh my god. I instantly shut down that thought and tried my best to ignore it. My mom warned me about this but I hadn't been in my right mind to truly consider the possbility. I had learned just how much attracton really did matter to some extent. While I wouldn't admit or allow myself to believe it, I didn't have a crush on my own boyfriend.

Again, I ignored my feelings and kept going along with it. Almost everybody who came to my graduation went out to eat at a really nice restaurant and a party afterwards and I remember when H would try to touch me, I subconsciously moved his hand without thinking about it and didn't notice until he asked me why. I truly had no idea until later on, so I said I didn't know. Before he had to leave we went outside to take pictures and as it was happening I saw people glance at us and that's when I started feeling embarrassed. I know what had to be done but there were some personal reasons why I didn't walk away from the relationship sooner. Let's just say I'd been afraid to because of his state of mind at the time.

The relationship went on for about another week, then it was time for the weekend of my birthday. My mom and aunt were taking me to my favorite amusement/water park and they suggested I invite him because it was in his direction. I immediately did so and we were both thrilled once his stepdad agreed to bring him. I'd been back in mostly fog land because of the bond we did have and after he went home on my graduation night things were back to normal.

It started that next Saturday. After all three of us were ready and waiting is when my day had been initially ruined. I texted H's stepdad to let us know when he pulled up. His response? My boyfriend couldn't make it due to getting sick. Stepdad apologized saying he thought H told me. My mood instantly went from excited to devastated in .02 seconds. I tried to keep a positive attititude anyway because at least I still had rides and slides to enjoy, or so I thought.

When we got to the park, lines of cars were backed up, trying desperately to find parking spaces. Nobody felt like dealing with that, including myself. We drove around town desperately trying to find something to do. It just kept getting worse, and at the back of my mind I couldn't stop thinking about H. I wanted to know if he was okay but also why? He could've told me and it was really bothersome. It'd been weird because H usually said everything.

We ended up going to a nice all-you-can-eat sushi bar for lunch and that cheered me up because it's my favorite food. I was ready to eat my heart out and distract myself from the mental pain. Finally around 5:30 that evening I got a message from H. He claimed to be asleep all day and that fueled my anger tenfold. It was a terrible excuse and I let him know that. Later he ended up calling my mom's cell saying I'd been selfish and didn't even think about him being sick despite asking if he was okay before I confronted him . Needless to say, H and I were done.

A few weeks later my mom came to wake me up one morning. She said get ready and bring swimming essentials that we were going to give the park another shot. I groaned and said I didn't want to be reminded of what happened, but she insisted anyway. It turned out that she'd planned another surprise trip to make up for not going the weekend of my birthday, and invited S so that I would have someone with me. I never thought about H once, except when S asked about what happened between us and I gladly told him with no hesitation, nor felt sad talking about it. I was still so angry at H and didn't care. S agreed, saying I had absolutely every reason to handle it the way I did, and that I wasn't selfish at all. It helped me heal to get a male's perspective from a trusted friend.

After I calmed down and was back on track, I thought about everything: how did this keep happening? I kept finding myself making horrible judgement calls when it came to friends or partners and I didn't understand why. Finally after doing some deep soul searching, a light clicked on in my brain and it all made sense. The feeling of being alone did this to me. I hated it and I rebelled by allowing myself to keep getting hurt just to fill this void. In a way, H was right, but not initially with his reasoning. I'd been selfish that all I cared about was not being alone anymore (friend or partner) and I neglected my own well being in the process of it. That in turn, affected my friends and family and I also wasn't being fair to A or H.

Even so, I have no regrets of my actions and accept them as a real learning experience. Those mistakes have helped develop me as a person and I've never been better. For the first time in my life, I feel confident enough to say "no" if I were to be thrown in any similar situations in the future. I still think about how I want more people my age for friends or a partner by my side that I can confide in, but those things will happen when He intends for them to and I'm content with waiting for the best. Never judge if you don't know what that person's going through.

Honestly, I believe in some form or fashion everybody's a little bit "selfish" on a level. I don't mean to offend anyone but think about it for a second, for example I'm usually the one of the most selfless people you could ever meet and I still ended up doing something selfish, granted I wasn't being real with myself, but it still happened which proves nobody's perfect. Now I understand what it means to surprised with someone doing something you never thought they would do, whether it's good or bad. Otherwise, I'm really only ever selfish as you may call it when I'm tired and I'll get snappy with those around me from being even more impatient than I already am. It's just in my nature and I always try my best to control it, but if I break, I usually apologize after I've had a chance to sleep or calm down on my own.

My reason for writing this was to help others going through similar situations. We all don't like being alone, I still don't, but I've learned to tolerate it and so can you. It doesn't matter what others think because you know in your heart you're doing the best and that's all you can do. It took me a long time to accept that but now I've decided to be my own best friend, even when none of my true friends are around and I'm more than comfortable with it, especially knowing I can trust myself. You never know with other people. Whenever I have a weak moment and miss the presence of a real person I think about my experiences with A and H then boom I'm instantly back on track. Who in their right mind wants to go through what I did?

I hope I've helped anybody who is going through a similar problem and maybe even inspired some. Just remember to love yourself and enjoy the quite laid-back times and enjoy your own company.

We can do this!

About the Writer

If you're interested in learning about my current life and future, I'm nineteen and working on getting into college at the moment. I want to become an occupational therapist assistant so I can help special needs children in the position I was once in. I've never been happier with the state of my life right now and it keeps getting better. My autistic tendencies are 99% gone and people tell me they don't even notice if I mention it. When I'm comfortable with somebody I can truly be talkative and excitable kind of like seeing my "raw" and "purest" personality. Someday I hope to meet the man of my dreams who accepts me for who I am and have our own happy family. Having divorced parents it's kind of a big deal to me, and if I can meet the right person I'd rather prevent history from repeating itself. I also hope to travel the world someday and do all kinds of things I've always wanted to do.