When being alone changes to lonely.
| Against The World
Lily was a loner by choice. It stemmed from the fact that she lived in an orphanage until she was sixteen. In all that time, no one adopted or even fostered her.
For a long time, Lily had longed for a family. She’d agonized over her looks, sure she wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough to get a family. When she turned twelve and the family still hadn’t materialized, she decided if that was how the world was going to treat her, she was better off alone.
Two years before being sent off on her own, Mrs. Gallagher, the matron of the orphanage, had arranged for Lily to be apprenticed to an accountant to learn a trade. Lily found she enjoyed the solitariness of the work and the infallibility of numbers. On her sixteenth birthday, the same brisk, kind woman gave her a suitcase with new clothes in it as well as a small amount to get started with.
Because this was the first gift she’d ever gotten, Lily continued to think fondly of the giver even after years on her own. Occasionally, she wondered how she was and whether she’d retired yet. But Life soon took over, and Lily went with it.
As she aged, Lily began to believe that she was better company than anyone else she knew or could know. Because of this firm belief, she enjoyed traveling, eating out, visiting attractions and spending quality time with herself. In fact, any socializing she did was infrequent and seldom enjoyed.
Now and then, Lily questioned why she couldn’t seem to make closer friends or even attract a lover. She would list the advantages of the life alone that she led. She need please only herself. Coming and going when and where she pleased was icing on the cake.
Lily lived her life, contentedly alone for fifteen years. She told herself that just because she was alone, didn’t mean she was lonely. At the end of that period, she was raped and robbed at knife-point one night in her second floor apartment. She lay on the floor of her bedroom shivering long after the criminal left.
She was terrified, especially by the realization that there was absolutely no one she could call for comfort or help except impersonal police officers and EMTs. The few casual friends she had made since leaving the Children’s Home were just that and she didn’t feel she could call on them. As for the people at work, it was all business there and she had made it clear that was how she wanted it.
Lily dressed shakily and called 911. After she was checked out and samples were taken, an officer came to take her statement and drive her home. Lily slept on the couch for weeks until she could move out of the place that no longer seemed safe to her.
As she searched for another place to live, Lily began to long for the companionship of people. She discovered she wanted not just any people. She wanted caring people.
Lily found out she wanted people she might talk to about anything and everything, laugh about nothing with and even cry with when she was sad. She wanted a few good friends. But how does someone who’d been alone all her life begin to encourage close friendship?
Her thoughts kept going to Mrs. Gallagher. Finally, Lily took her courage in both hands and called the orphanage. The new matron told her that she wasn’t at liberty to give out information about Mrs. Gallagher and hung up on her abruptly.
Disheartened, Lily went to her favorite sidewalk café to have coffee and watch people. She played her favorite game of picking out those who might become friends if she could make the first move. A familiar aged voice hailed her.
When she looked up, there was the smiling face of Mrs. Gallagher! Eagerly, Lily got her a seat and ordered her tea. It was as if the older woman knew what she needed and gave it.
That was how Lily got her first close friend and a mentor on how to make and be a friend and was glad forever after.