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No, I feel bad for YOU


Last weekend, I took myself on a little solo date in the form of a Girls  Aloud concert. I had the best night, and didn’t stop dancing from the moment the warm-up DJ came on, until the ladies shimmed out for the encore some hours later.

I was transported straight back to my 9 year old self as I belted out what was quite possibly the sassiest line of the early 00’s girl-band scene: ‘Cause frankly, I don’t even care!’ 💃🏻💁🏻‍♀️

As I stood there bopping along in my own weird little one-woman way, the girl in the next seat turned to me.

               “Are you on your own?” She asked.

               “Yes,” I replied happily.

               “Oh my gosh!” She exclaimed, her hand flying to her heart. “That makes me feel SO bad!”

She looked at me with a mixture of pity and sympathy.

Meanwhile, I’d already dismissed her well-intended concern and was busy something kinda ooooh-ing to something on my tutu-ing. 💃🏼

 

I didn’t give her comment a second thought until I was on my way home. I pondered over it with some amusement.

I’d had a blast at Girls Aloud, and I doubted that anybody’s company would have enhanced the experience. And it wasn’t as though I didn’t have anyone to go with… I’d willingly chosen to attend the gig alone.

 

I’ve been to many concerts on my own over the years, and there are numerous reasons for this:

1.      When paying over £60 for a ticket, I kinda’ want to give the artist my full attention. I’m there to listen to the music, not chat to my mates. And let’s be honest – no-one wants to see me reduced to tears over my love of Beenie Man. 🤣

2.      Arranging pretty much anything with anyone is a tiresome task. By the time my girl group have synchronised their diaries, the tickets have most probably sold out anyway. So I cut out the middle man and just fly solo.

3.      I just LOVE doing things on my own. My solo dates are, without a doubt, my richest moments.

 

I don’t give my passion for solitude a second thought, because it’s something that’s as natural to me as breathing. It always has been, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As I write this, at 9:30am on a Saturday morning, I’m sat in a gorgeous country pub, on my own. I have a plate of banana bread French toast on one side of my laptop, and a stunning view of my home-village on the other. The window is open ajar, letting in a stream of morning sunshine.

Later, as the day’s rays are retreating back into the sky and the trees begin to whisper with the promise of the night, I’ll head out for my weekly half marathon, drinking in every second of the shimmering countryside around me.

A perfect day. For me, THIS is the life of dreams.


 This morning. ✍🏼🖤 (banana bread French toast, in-case you were wondering 🤤)


I’ve posted many blogs about my introverted tendencies and my love of ‘all things alone,’ and yet how I choose to live my life continues to baffle people.

There’s such a stark difference between being alone, and being lonely. I can honestly say that I have never once felt lonely in my entire life. I’m too content in my own company to crave reassurance and connection with others all the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I like spending time with my family and friends… But I LOVE spending time alone, above anything else. I THRIVE in solitude.

I’m so grateful to have the most wonderful people around me, but I have never and will never rely on anybody, for anything. And those that have trouble understanding this possibly need to address their own insecurities before negatively judging my way of life…

 

People are often quick to brand ‘lone wolves’ as weird. I don’t think there’s anything weird about being comfortable in your own headspace.

While some see my extreme independence as a downfall, I consider it to be my most prized possession and deadliest weapon.

I don’t need anybody to go to restaurants, concerts, or on holiday. I do all of that by myself quite happily, thank you VERY much!


In October 2023, I came out of an 8 year relationship. We’d split up before and tried to make things work, but due to a catalyst of personal circumstances and errors on both sides, we decided to part ways for good. I’m not ashamed to admit that for a while, it absolutely broke me.

The end of my relationship left me feeling a range of emotions that I really struggled to process. A very prominent and very uncomfortable feeling that I was forced to confront was vulnerability. I despised that I was upset, and I loathed that I had allowed myself to place my happiness in the hands of someone else.

For someone who ferociously prides themselves on being a strong, independent woman, spending days on end in bed weeping and wailing along to Unbreak My Heart filled me with so much resentment. Resentment for him, for the situation, and for myself. I HATED myself for feeling this way.

 

During the first few months of the breakup, I became someone I didn’t recognise, and that angered me even more. Some days, I couldn’t even muster the motivation to get out and go for a run. I missed a couple of races, and bailed out of going to see 50 Cent – a solo concert I’d been looking forward to for months. I could feel parts of myself that I’ve worked so hard for slipping away.

But deep down, through all of the turmoil and sadness, I knew I’d be okay. Because I always am. I just had to give it time and fight my way through the sheer darkness.

After a lot of rock bottom days and having to adjust to the prospect of a life I hadn’t seen coming, I finally experienced the rebirth of the version of me that I know and love. I booked myself a couple of my beloved solo adventures abroad. I entered my first ultra-marathon. I took myself out for regular solo dates. I wrote, CONSTANTLY. I listened to music, in particular my ultimate go-to healing song, No Scrubs. 😉

I’m well aware that there will be tough days ahead, but now that I’ve found myself again, I know I’ll smash through them with the fiery spirit that has never let me down.

If I can go head-to-head with anorexia multiple times, I’m sure I have the power within me to battle against pining over a man who collectively binned 14 out of 16 of our household forks. (My ex had the INFURIATING tendency to leave his forks in takeaway boxes and then bin the whole thing. One of the many things I won’t miss, tbh.)


When a relationship ends, people attempt to comfort you with a whole manner of well-meaning yet patronising spiels - the most common being, “Oh, you’ll find someone else in no time!”

… Does it ever occur to people that I might not want to find somebody else?

I can’t even express how utterly happy I am on my own.

I occasionally date to deter the rumours that I’m a witch, 😉 but even then, I spend the entire time counting down the hours until I can retreat into solitude again. Look boyz, I JUST wanna’ get home, strip down to my pants, and gyrate around the house to Murder On The Dancefloor, OKAY?

Putting myself first is SUCH a beautiful luxury.

 

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that I’ll never have another relationship ever again, but I’m 30 years old. I’m in absolutely no rush. I could meet my next love at 50, 60, 70.

I’m very fortunate in the fact that I don’t want children, so am not bound by a ‘biological clock.’

Right now, I’m relishing the opportunity to prioritise and nurture my most essential relationship: the relationship that I have with myself.

I’m really enjoying this journey of getting to know myself again. Now that I only have myself to focus on, I’m delighted to fill my little world up with the things that make my heart sour: writing, running, music, solo travel, books, good food, barefoot walks across the beach, and days whiled away in bluebell forests.

Oh, and the occasional day out with friends and family too, obvs. 😉


One of my happy solo places. 🍃

I recently came across the following powerful quote: 'My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.'

If I ever were to meet somebody else, they’d have to enhance the beautiful life that I’ve worked hard to create. I’ll never allow anyone to shatter or challenge my inner peace or make me question my worth again.

 

❤️❤️❤️


When I look back on my relationship, I see that I did sacrifice rather a lot of myself for the sake of trying to make it work, as I’m sure he did, too. While I understand that compromise is an important ingredient in relationships, I don’t believe that anyone should lose elements of themselves along the way.

Understandably, my ex enjoyed spending a lot of time with me… But he wasn’t great at being alone. This often meant that I’d feel guilty going off to do my own thing. I’d always have that voice in the back of my head, urging me to get back quicker so that he wasn’t on his own for too long (he was like a Labrador in many ways, really). This impacted my ‘lone time,’ which as introvert, is absolutely essential to my mental health and wellbeing.

 

Time alone just fills me with incandescent contentment.

It gifts me with the chance to check in with myself, process any niggling emotions, put my worries into perspective, and embrace and feed my creativity to its full potential. You learn so much about yourself, your capabilities, and your aspirations when you take the time to drown out the outside world.

This is probably going to sound dead, dead cringe, but the only way I can describe it is that spending time by myself genuinely feels like hanging out with my best mate. Someone who knows and understand me better than anybody else.

I totally get that my way of living doesn’t appeal to or suit everyone, but at the same time, a life of societal norms doesn’t suit me.

My decision not to have children is another article altogether, but I’ll try to summarise it in a couple of lines.

When I tell people I don’t want kids, the usual reaction is one of horror. Stating that you’re a woman who doesn’t want children is apparently akin to admitting to mass murder.

Many of my friends have children, and I LOVE that for them. Over the years, I’ve adored watching my girls blossom and flourish into the most incredible mothers. They’re all raising the most beautiful little humans who are an absolute testament to the ladies I am beyond proud to call my friends.

(Side note: My friend Molly has recently had a baby, and I want to take this opportunity to tell the world have bloody amazing she is. She’ll HATE me for writing this, as she’s not a fan of anything remotely cringe 🤣 But she is the most selfless, brave, fiercely loyal, emotionally intelligent, caring person I’ve ever been lucky enough to meet. She’s beyond beautiful, both inside and out. I’m honoured to have her in my corner as my biggest cheerleader. Every girl needs a friend like Molly. Her baby has one hell of a role model in her.)

 

But, is motherhood the life I want for myself? No. Absolutely NOT. And if I’m honest, this was one of the main reasons that my relationship ended. There were many factors that contributed to our demise, but one thing that really drew a wedge between us was the fact that my ex wanted children more than anything, whereas I’d frankly rather commit to a lifetime of ingrown toenails.

 

When I was single in my early 20s (so bloody young!!), I used to get upset thinking that I’d never meet anyone and have a family. I just wanted the reassurance that one day I’d be a Mum.

And then along came anorexia, which turned my world upside down. It shook up everything I knew, and made me question all that I thought I wanted. While navigating through my first recovery, I travelled solo across Europe and spent a summer living abroad, and I came back a different person, with different dreams.

Anorexia had stolen my voice and eroded my mind for so long  - it was unbelievable to finally think for myself again. I felt utterly liberated, and I craved an eternity of the freedom that I’d experienced.

Since then, anorexia has dipped in and out of my life, but my passion for living has miraculously always remained. During my first battle, I yearned for an end to my suffering. I welcomed the heart palpitations, the jutting bones and the bruises that splayed my skin. I actively sought death purely to silence the voice in my head.

 

My second, third, and fourth battles have been overshadowed by the fire to fight. Because I love my life. I genuinely couldn’t ask for more than I have, and I treat every single second as a sheer blessing – a mindset that if often only born from the ashes of hell.

It’s that freedom and the infinite promise of adventures that keeps me coming back for more.

I love getting up at 5:30am on a weekend and going for a 13 mile run, playing witness to the sunrise and the untouched frost and the jewelled spider’s webs while the rest of the world sleeps.

I love scattering my heart across random European cities as I embrace new cultures, food and traditions.

I love spending my days lolling about in Tatton Park with a picnic and my notebook.

I love getting 7/8 hours sleep a night.

And yes, sometimes, I love spending a whole weekend cooped up inside writing like a weird little hermit with only Pumpkin the Syrian hamster for company.


 A solo picnic and an afternoon of writing. ✍🏼❤️


I love my freedom, and I’ve made the choice to prioritise that over having children.

I’ve been called selfish too many times to mention. In my opinion, it would be more selfish of me to grit my teeth and have a child, because deep down, it wouldn’t be for the right reasons, and it wouldn’t be what I want. It would be hugely unfair to have a child simply to obey to the ‘norms,’ quell the judgment, or make someone else happy.

Everyone has their own idea of a flawless life, and I’m living mine. All I hope is that others have the courage to live theirs without feeling as though they have to fit inside a box.

Someone once told me that if I didn’t change my ways, I’d ‘die alone,’ and I thought, God, I hope so.

DON’T THREATEN ME WITH A GOOD TIME. 🤣

The thing is, I probably will die alone… But I’ll also die happy, with a fulfilled life behind me – a life where I was nothing but true to myself - and how many people can honestly say that?

 

So, when people see me on my own and tell me that they feel bad for me, I smile to myself and think, ‘No, I feel bad for YOU.’

I pity them, because they’re yet to discover the bliss in solitude. 🖤

Cara Jasmine Bradley ©

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