The emptiness of being alone

When there is no one, and the lights have been switched off by the last man to make a home in you, an emptiness settles upon you. 

It's the feeling of being completely alone. There is no one to think about, or worry about. There are no calls to make at the end of your day, and you don’t need to check in with anyone. Your energy and emotion flows straight from you, into you. 

It's a strange and unknown feeling for the most part. It took me a while to pin it down and understand it. I had to touch it, taste it, feel it roll around my mouth to really know it.

Since puberty, and long before, our energies are channelled into boys and men. Maybe not knowingly, a lot of the time unwillingly, but they flow towards a tide of testosterone either way. 

We've been programmed to wonder what they think of us. We've been engineered to want their approval, whether it's the whistles of builders as you walk by, or accolades in the academic or professional world. These are things delivered by men, that were initially constructed for men, and we strive to get them. And then there's love, and that brings a host of approval and male acceptance all of its own. 

There is nothing more excruciating than wanting the attention of a man. It doesn't make you less of a woman, as the world would have you believe, but it does mean that your thought processes, wants and energies become inexplicably tied to him. In reality, he consumes your thoughts and drives your emotions. 

This isn't even something us women like to admit. No one in fact, likes to admit that they check their phone so many times in a day in the hope that his name will flash across the screen. No one likes to admit that we feel happier in our day, when we've received contact, and acknowledgment of some kind, from the man we desire. Especially those strong willed, ‘fuck em’ type of women. We hate admitting any of those things. But it is in fact, a truth universally unacknowledged, that a woman in love craves validation and attention from a man. 

That's not to say the same isn't true for men, of course they experience similar feelings. But the point is, they haven't been raised in a system that requires them to seek our approval, and so the wants and desires they feel, are remarkably different. It doesn't have the same tinge of hysteria about it, and I don't give a fuck about the feminist outrage as I say that, there is hysteria. Many a good and sane woman has been driven to hysteria by a man. 

As I lay completely and utterly alone the other night, my world revolved solely around me. It felt a lot like standing in a vast marble hall and having the freedom to walk any which way I chose. I could feel the emptiness in the air. I could feel my time and energy, my thoughts and concentration, flowing from me to me. 

I'm not saying I've been in relationships my entire life, because naturally that's absurd. But I'm a younger sister, and since the day I was born, I have sought the attention of my big brother. I then sought the attention of his friends. Then boys and boyfriends. That turned into colleagues and partners. Fiancées and lovers. I have either sought approval in a male dominated society, or I have been in a relationship looking for acceptance, recovering from the love of a man, or falling for the next one. 

There were years of being alone, but they were years of healing and I found my energy still running into the man that had either hindered or helped me. 

But once you've picked up all the pieces, and you've let go of the things that were consuming you, and there's absolutely no one on the horizon, there is an emptiness, an emptiness that feels a lot like bliss. 

Not everyone will be alone in that way because not everyone wants to be. And certainly, that's not the solution. But I wonder if perhaps I hadn't been a product of a society that called for me to comply with testosterone, I might have found this blissful self-awareness earlier. I might have found time to give me more of me, instead of packaging it up in different ribbons for the different men that stepped into the frame.

Empty denotes something negative, the idea that you had something, and now you’ve lost it. But I’ve learnt recently that empty is the lack of a male presence in my head. I am empty of worrying if he will or will not call. Empty of concern for his emotions and well-being. Empty of worry regarding his actions. This might just be called letting go, or moving on, or any number of things. But I also realised that I have reached a place where male validation, whether it be professional or personal, has no baring on me any longer. And I have grown in a world where so much emphasis has been placed on that male acceptance, that I am suddenly empty.

I don’t know how long it will last, I hope forever, but I’m also not that naïve. I know that I’ve been a product of the system far too long to shake it off in a day. What I hope for above all else, is that we can somehow pass the message on to girls today, that the emptiness of being alone is a wonderful thing. That when you’re not worrying about male acceptance and attention, it leaves time and space to create so many incredible versions of yourself.  If we could only raise a generation that didn't need male approval, and a generation that didn't ask for it, what a wonderful world we could create. 


Salma El-Wardany