|Case Studies Jan/Feb - Page 2|
On the day Sam moved out, Lisa remembered sitting in her apartment in stunned disbelief. "It's odd," she told me. "I've been by myself a thousand times when Sam was out, only now it's different. Before, I was alone, but not really: I was waiting for him. Now I'm not waiting for anyone." She sobbed. She felt frightened and confused and strangely ashamed, as if she herself were to blame.
She spent the next few weeks crying a lot, sleeping away the weekends, and refusing to answer the phone, not recognizing herself, she told me. "It feels like there's something terribly wrong with me. I don't even understand why I feel so bad. . . . It's not that I want to be with Sam," she said, struggling to make sense of her feelings. "I mean, I do, but only if it could be the way it used to be, and I know it can't. It's just that"—she stared at the floor—"that I'm alone, completely alone, and it's terrifying." She looked at me helplessly. "I don't know how to be a woman alone."
As she regained some equilibrium, we began to talk about the bullying emotions she was struggling against: shame for being a woman alone, and fear that she'd remain alone forever. Like many women, she was suffering from an old reflexive tendency to equate aloneness with personal failure. She couldn't shake the feeling that a woman alone is a "loser," as if being without a man made her "less of" something: "less worthy," "less desirable," and the clincher, "totally inadequate."