“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.”
― May Sarton


Today will bring my 10 days of silence to an end. I hadn’t planned this silent retreat, but after a week of ignoring the phone, emails, requests to ‘meet up’ on Plenty of Fish etc., I began to accept that I was choosing solitude. At first I thought this was just a reaction to a very socially active fall and Christmas, but when days of silence were followed by more days, the significance of this experience came clear. After 7 years, I had finally conquered my 2 phobias…Monophobia and Noctiphobia…meaning I was now able to experience the inexplicable joy of being alone in solitude during the day, coupled with a peaceful sleep at night, alone in my bed, without a companion…be it a man, the voice of a man delivered through an audio tape, food, or a knife.(for intruders)

I used to be a person that never spent time alone…ever. Whether day or night, I was invariably in the company of others, be it family members, friends, colleagues or fictitious characters from books and movies. I left home at 19 and moved into Staff Housing of The Banff Springs Hotel for my year away from University.

Banff Springs Hotel

Banff Springs Hotel


Upon my return to my parents, I learned of their plan for a 2 month holiday in celebration of the resuscitation of their marriage. My response was to move in with my boyfriend. I never thought of myself as someone who feared being alone, but in retrospect, I had moved from childhood home to Staff Housing to boyfriend, to marriage to the ultimate solution to never having to be alone…children! In 50 years, I don’t think I had spent a single night by myself! I was unaware of my fear, because I had managed to avoid confronting it. Herein lies the challenge with phobias and fears. In general we are unaware of having them simply because we design our lives in ways that keep us well clear of even a chance encounter. Say for example you are Glossophobic, well you just refrain from speaking in public. Or if you are Xenophobic, you avoid travel to foreign lands. If asked if I was afraid of being alone, I would have scoffed at such a preposterous idea, and responded with how much I loved being with people. No argument is tighter than that of a person protecting their fear.

But my unconscious desire to live a more personally satisfying life, kept prodding me to ‘wake up’. One of the most potent nudges came from my dream content. Countless dreams had me dwelling in houses that were obviously restrictive; rooms without windows or houses with staircases that went nowhere or derelict homes with no foundations. Dream images of houses are a symbolic representation of the psychological space we inhabit, our true sense of how we feel in our inner life. Try as I might to ignore this deep desire to redefine my psychological space…this sense of myself…my unconscious continued to bombard me with these images. I eventually began to accept that I did feel confined and dissociated from the real me. I had to admit that the beautiful accoutrements of my external life hid the barrenness, the vacuousness of my inner life.

To bring about real change, though, it meant I would have to undergo a cataclysmic upheaval. The adult self is a stable, perdurable entity by necessity, or emotional/mental breakdowns would occur regularly.  The image that I had created to represent me had to be dismantled, persona by persona, releasing instead, the authentic me. I began with digging deep into Mother Earth.

Image from My Dream Journal-breaking down the walls of resistance

Image from My Dream Journal-breaking down the walls of resistance

I began small, in 2004, with a room of my own in the basement of our family home. Alone in this space, inner chaos opened up within me. I felt disturbed, bewildered and so fragile at times that I was afraid I’d have a nervous breakdown. Shutting out the distractions of family, friends and the incessant busyness of any woman’s life, allowed all of my inner doubts, anxieties, fears, painful memories, unresolved conflicts, angry and resentful feelings and impulsive/compulsive desires to manifest. No wonder we try to hold down the lid to Pandora’s Box. In fact, to stay in this inner chaos and not immediately retreat to the familiar, yet unsatisfying outer life, takes extreme discipline. My herbalist/healer, Annette, asked a group of us if we were flirting, dating or in a committed marriage with our personal growth!



In this week’s post, I am celebrating my successful climb from the despair of loneliness to the bliss of solitude. This Spiritual Journey required that I become utterly alone and withdrawn into my innermost self. I had to endure long periods of bitter suffering. But now I have the strength to  stand amidst a throng of people, staying true to who I am and what I believe. I know this is not the BOX I ticked when sitting with a career counsellor in University, but to be honest, if that box had been available, I would have chosen it. I suppose a Degree in Psychology/Philosophy was the University’s version of a spiritual quest!

So now I sit alone, in my seaside cottage, 2 finger tap tapping my experiences through The Other Woman Blog! I will share some images of what I’ve seen out my window.