Aloneness can be a rare and exquisite gift.

Learning to be alone with oneself is surely an art. We are socially and culturally encouraged to be “with”… not alone. Having many friends, being social, connecting with community, and being part of the village are common promotions. Splendid advice, but what about that special, sacred, unfettered time you need to just be with you? Why is that such a scary landscape? In psychotherapy, therapists hear the words repeated, “I don’t want to be alone, I am afraid.””We are meant to be in relationships with other people, but, just as surely, we are meant to partake of aloneness. To deny this part of our existence is a little like trying to walk the earth on one foot instead of two.” Florence Falk. So how can aloneness be a rare gift and a cushy benefit to you? It can be your time to reflect on you and embrace self-understanding, self-expression, and personal growth.

In such a fast paced society we’re on the go! There’s never enough time to get things done and someone always needs something from you. How rare it is when you actually have that time for you. Some have the time, but run from it by numbing it with drugs or alcohol, watching television, reading fiction, watching movies, shopping till dropping, staying on phones, computers, ipads and the like.

But, what if you used your time creatively to find and fuel the real you? What are your interests, passions, talents, wishes, desires, dreams and feelings? What if you made those things very, very important and listened to the deep inner being of you? The amazing you that was created for your own unique and special path, wants to talk to you. There is much to harvest in our own resources contained within. If only we listen.

Adult children of narcissistic parents often struggle with aloneness caused by mistrust of others. If you grew up with parents who continually betrayed your trust, a part of your healing is learning to trust yourself so you can trust others again. A significant part of the recovery model is to learn to be alone to work grief and acceptance and to rely on your own internal parent who will always be there for you. Growing a strong sense of self requires that time alone. It does not have to be a fearful time. It may be short spurts or longer extensions depending on the seasons of your life. Sometimes it takes practice and structuring this special interlude to overcome the fear.

People often worry about what others will think. Pouring from our pitchers of self-doubt we ask worrisome questions. If I am alone for a while, will I be viewed as a loner? If I don’t date, will people think I am weird or anti-social? If I take time out from my family to work on me, will I be viewed as selfish or uncaring? Is there some stigma about being alone that keeps you from doing it? Thinking about the messages you give yourself while you are alone is a worthwhile project. Are you calling yourself a loser or are you telling yourself this is a special gift of love for you? How we view it, is what makes us feel good or bad about ourselves.

Because we live in a social society many can relate to the stigma of aloneness. Introverts struggle with their need for time alone to accomplish inner reflection as they sort and integrate new information and experience. Artists, writers, creators, are those who need time by themselves to find inspiration. What if your passion is piano or something similar that requires time alone to practice, create, express? I know people who just want to sit with their animals or ride their horses in complete solitude. Some love to hike… alone. The journey back to self in these quiet times can be our best therapy.

There’s heightened focus today on relationships: how to have healthy ones, how to date, celebrity break-ups and hookups, contentious divorces and parenting conflicts. There’s massive professional advice flowing on how to do it all better. Does relationship with self therefore get the short shrift? There is a flaw if intimate connection with self does not get the same richness or urgent attention. The inner portrait of each person and their own creative spark and aliveness is often found in solitude. It can then can be energetically focused outward in important and loving relationships. It may even clear your thoughts about what is healthy for you. “Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn that anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.” David Whyte.
Additional Resources:

Survey: Is This My Mom? Use this to assess if your parent has narcissistic traits. It is applicable for men as well.

Research: Interview You?

FB Parties for Adult Children of Narcissists:

Authors’ Books and Kindle – Click for Amazon Reviews

© Copyright 2013 Karyl McBride, Ph.D., All rights Reserved.
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Dr. Karyl, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Denver, Colorado with almost 30 years in public and private practice. She specializes in treating clients with dysfunctional family issues. For the past seventeen years, Dr. Karyl has been involved in private research concerning children of narcissistic parents, with a primary focus on women raised by narcissistic mothers. She has treated many adult children of narcissistic parents in her private practice. The author holds a B.A. from the University of Wyoming in elementary and special education, an M.A. from the University of Northern Colorado in counseling psychology, an Educational Specialist graduate degree from the University of Northern Colorado in school psychology, and a Ph.D. from The Union Institute in clinical psychology. Dr. Karyl also has extensive clinical experience in the fields of trauma, sexual abuse, domestic violence, divorce and step family therapy, marital and family therapy, specialized trauma treatment in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), and individual adjustment issues related to anxiety, depression, and life transitions. In addition, she does forensic consulting and has served as an expert witness in numerous civil and criminal cases involving children and sexual abuse. She has nine years experience conducting sexual abuse investigations with law enforcement and has conducted training for law enforcement in the area of sexual abuse investigations. In 1996, she was invited to present her doctoral research at the International Police Research Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Additional information on services provided and background experience can be found on Dr. Karyl’s private practice website at Dr. Karyl is available for workshops, talks and media appearances on the topic of maternal narcissism. Contact Dr. Karyl for more information.


  1. Learning to be alone – whether in or out of a relationship – is an important step in recovery for codependents. Many people, as the author points out, retreat in self-protection. What’s missing is the ability to verbalize boundaries in an ongoing manner to build self-trust and self-care, rather than totally withdraw. Codependents have been hurt and have trust issues, They have trouble discerning reliable vs untrustworthy people and either trust too much or too soon or distrust uniformly. Healing past trauma that is coloring the present and learning self-care and self-love are essential to knowing when boundaries.are appropriate. See my blog posts on “To Trust or Mistrust,” “The Power of Personal Boundaries,” and “Your Primary Spiritual Relationship – Loving Yourself.”
    Darlene Lancer, LMFT
    Author of “Codependency for Dummies”