71807735_c0b75cf643_zIn the years after my brain injury, for the first time ever in my life, I was alone, completely alone. No kids. No man. Nada.

Pets don’t count, do they? The number of cats has grown freakishly high over the years, six to be exact, and a dog.  (BTW – I think the “crazy, cat lady” has a certain charm to it.)

After I tried to end my life, resulting in a serious brain injury, my ex-husband sued me for custody of our two sons and upon winning, promptly moved out of state with them. While going to live with him was in the children’s best interest at the time, and while I know it wasn’t his intention, the arrangement was absolutely best for me also I would find out.

My boyfriend of three years had taken himself out of the picture rather unexpectedly, partly prompting the suicide attempt. I was planning on a future with him, whether he was with me or not. I had it all worked out nicely in my head.

So, here I was all alone. Even seriously brain-injured, my first instinct was to struggle against the void filling it with people, TV, emails to the kids, and any other general busyness. Sleeping as much as sixteen hours a day became a favorite pastime.  Because of the brain injury, I couldn’t not sleep, and also when asleep, I didn’t have to think, feel, or be alone. For a while, I considered getting a roommate but eventually nixed the idea.

While walking the dog around a lake near my house, I remember seeing geese grazing on the bank. Have you ever noticed how geese always seem to be in pairs? Boy, I did and was actually jealous of the birds. “Why do they get to have a mate and I don’t? Even he does honk annoyingly as hell and poops green slime all over the place,”  I fumed.

With time, and I mean years, I grew to appreciate and even like my solitude, and in retrospect, being alone was vital to healing from the brain injury/suicide attempt physically and emotionally. With barely enough mental energy to exist and function immediately following the injury, I didn’t possess the reserves to worry about anybody else or their opinion of me, and being around people was mentally exhausting.  Isolating myself, I withdrew from everyone and everything.

With nothing else to do, being alone gave me the opportunity to focus on and put energy into myself. Investing in myself was something I had never done.  With a man or the kids always at the top of the list, I came in somewhere near the bottom after the dog. Being alone also forced me to grow up, finally in my mid-forties. Better late than never. I had to figure out who I was without hiding behind the roles I played in life or by trying to be what I thought some man wanted me to be because all of that was gone and I had to figure out who was left.

In her book Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, Caroline Myss writes that the fear of being alone lies at the core of many people’s inability to heal. Not healing allows people to lean on others for assistance and play on their guilt to keep them around. There’s a certain power over others in not healing.

My singular existence meant that I could eat whenever and whatever I felt like, play my music as loud as I wanted, and walk around with zit cream on my face. Being alone allowed me to heal, become self-sufficient, and learn to like my own company.

And, you know what?

I think I’m pretty cool!

image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/whetzel/


  1. Tony Piparo Reply

    Great revelations. I had to go through something similar but only came within inches of actually attempting suicide, A voice and some powerful energies kept me from going further. I applaud all that you've done for yourself and others since that life-changing episode of your life.

  2. kathy dollyhigh Reply

    Debbie, You are amazing and what an insight you have! I can relate so much to your words here, and your words give me great comfort. I feel that I had to be completely alone to finally "get it", and I'm glad to see it all put into words.
    Kathy Dollyhigh

  3. Debbie Hampton Reply

    Tony, thank you for your kind words. The darkest places are the best teachers I have found. It is so true when you are in one that there is no where to go but up. Thank you for your encouragement and support along the way. You, yourself are an inspiration to me!

    Kathy, nice to hear from you and know you are out there. Thank you also for your kind words. I know you have been though some awfully tough challenges which makes me so glad to see you finding some peace and making some sense of it all. Keep at it! I still meditate to Isa's music and love the vibrations of it Thank you so much for the cd.

  4. Marty Coleman, The Napkin Dad Reply

    I am so happy for the revelations you have had. They have led to you being a positive and good influence on me and the rest of the world. Thank you.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Thanks, Marty. I wrote this almost two years ago. I think that I have gotten too comfortable in my solitude and have gone to the other extreme. I need to come back to the middle and find some balance with this. Working on it. It will be material for another blog!

  5. Tina Sullivan Reply

    Thank you, Debbie for going to the core and sharing your amazing journey. My son has had many feelings of deep despair like that and it is wonderful that you have come to the other side to become the woman that you were intended to be 🙂

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Thank you for your kind words, Tina. Your son is so fortunate to have your encouragement and support. He is also learning a great deal about his strength and resilience on his own.

  6. Alone. That’s what we all need to be to find how good our own company is to us. Not a usual find anyway. Only amazing ideas can flow when you are alone, but not lonely.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Jaky, precisely. There is so much peace and joy and freedom in being alone. Now, I find it hard to incorporate being with others in my life. I went from one extreme to the other. This, I know, is the next lesson. To interact and form relationships using my new wisdom. Stay tuned!

  7. Debbie, this post was the first thing I read online today, and you’re so right. There is a necessity to go down into what I call ‘the deep within’ so that we can discern what it is that we *really* need to be as well as we can … My husband left me while I was very ill, nearly 1.5 years ago. My survival was in question for several months — the loss was shattering and my health nearly collapsed completely … but I came through, with the presence and loving support of several good people — and my cats! They’ve been perfect companions through all this … They’re quiet; they soften a ragged nervous and immune system; they make me laugh; they demand my care; they are often the reason I get out of bed in the morning (one likes to stick a paw juuust inside my nostril…!). I have learned how to be my own ‘loving mother’ and that the word ‘heal’ means ‘to make whole’ … After terrible ruptures in relation, we are left to make a new ‘whole’ of ourselves … It’s ‘do or die’ time, isn’t it, at the beginning … and then later, if we are kind and merciful to ourselves, solitude has a certain sweetness … Here’s to you, dear survivor 🙂

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Oh, Jaliya, my heart goes out to you and my hat goes off to you. It used to make me mad that the hospital did not take adequate care of me which would have probably prevented the brain injury, no one was really around to help me during my recovery, that my kids were taken away, blah, blah blah… BUT, I know that had it not gotten as bad as it did with all these things happening that I would not have gone “deep within”, as you say, and I would not have made the changes which needed to be made and learned the lessons I have to become the person I am today. One of my favorite sayings is “If you like where you are, you can’t complain about how you got there!” Blessings to you. Keep up the good work!

  8. Debbie! Wow! I feel so Incredibly connected to you! My story is eerily similar. Thank you for writing this.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Mary, too neat. Kismet. Which part? Hope yours turned out to be a blessing in disguise also. Would love to hear more if you feel so inclined. Send me a private message a dbird1@triad.rr.com.

  9. Marina Ferrari Reply

    A simple solution to your table manners issue is to remove all tables in your life Debbie.

    Your journey so far has been tougher than most, but as you have shown us, it’s choice, not chance, that determines a happy future. You are truly alone when you don’t know yourself and because you know yourself, you will always win your battles. What I know & like about you Debbie (thanks to the internet) is that you’re an animal lover like me, a family girl like me & a daily inspiration to me. Now how many tables are we talking about ……

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Marina, I like your spirit! I wrote this two years ago, and you will be happy to know that my table manners have improved some. It really was a process of conscious effort to relearn them which I did by eating with people more often. I wish I could say that it comes with more ease and that I actually felt graceful, but, hey, that wouldn’t probably be much fun anyway!

      I am an animal lover. I am up to seven cats now. I feel that we can relate to them on some level even when we cannot to other human beings. It worked that way for me. They continue to give me so much unconditional support and love. I ALMOST don’t mind having to vacuum everyday! 🙂

  10. Hey
    Read your story !!!
    It is good to see people like you with such power and self motivation .
    Really your words touched me.
    I wish I could be as brave as you!!!
    God bless you

  11. Pingback: What Is Mental Strength and How To Get It - The best brain possible

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