on eating (and being) alone
November 15, 2010, 1:49 pm
Filed under: advice, life | Tags: , , , , ,

Dear Sponah,

My best friend/roommate recently moved far away. We used to eat dinner together almost every night- it was always enjoyable. We’d talk about our day and have fun. Now, I hate to eat dinner alone. I just don’t enjoy it at all. In fact, it is sort of anxiety-provoking, a chore, and stressful- it is upsetting. Any suggestions on how to dine alone happily? It is too much to invite people over every night. I did give my cats their wet food on the table but they didn’t stay very long of course. The other night I made my favorite meal, perogies, and I didn’t even enjoy that.


Distraught Diner

P.S. I do feel this is sort of a silly problem but it is a problem nonetheless. Tonight at dinner I approached it with a feeling of thankfulness, grateful that I have a lovely, nutritious meal while so many people in this world are not so fortunate.
I cried however through a portion of my dinner at hearing a sound which reminded me of my friend- keys in the hallway. Sounds dramatic- I know- but some days are better than others and I suppose this is a more difficult day. I do know this will get better with time. My friend has been away for three weeks. The underlying issue is missing my friend very much, and these upset dinners are one of the ways that this issue manifests. I wish I wasn’t crying, of course, but I am also glad that I am able to do so, as I’ve spent much of my life suppressing emotions. Anyway…

dear distraught diner,

first, your question isn’t silly at all. I applaud your braveness in admitting that this is something that happens for you. I think a lot of people (myself included) can understand the feeling of loneliness and sadness when life changes, even when those changes are not necessarily bad ones. It can just be all a little overwhelming sometimes. it manifests in different ways for different people, and for you it looks like it is taking the form of dinnertime. this could be an especially difficult time of day since it’s probably when you get home from your day and want to just unwind, only to be reminded that you’re alone and there’s no one to talk to. it just isn’t an easy thing to be faced with.

the best thing for this is going to simply be time, and adjustment. In the short term though, it sounds like you’re doing good things for yourself. allow yourself to feel the emotions you’re feeling and think about where they are coming from. if the issue is loneliness, it might help to get out and try and spend more dinners with friends for a while. If the issue is that you really miss your friend, perhaps writing a letter to them or giving them a call would help. I often write letters to people that I never send, just so I can get out what I’m really feeling. journaling might help too.

other options could be to change up your routine. if you usually ate with your friend at the table, try sitting somewhere else. maybe watch some TV or read while you eat. try ordering takeout sometimes so that you spend less time focusing on dinner (by not cooking it). make smaller meals so it won’t be so obvious that it is meant for more than one person. and above all, forgive yourself for being sad, and keep on keeping on.

good luck out there,