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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > October 2019 > Alone at last

Alone at last

Having had children young, Vee Sey finds herself living on her own for the first time – and feeling bereft. Could an art therapy retreat help her start the next chapter of her life?

The sun is sinking on Saturday and I’m having a cup of tea in the garden. My lobelia plantlings are snug in their pots, new glass baubles are dangling from the freshly pruned holly tree and the windowsills are free of cobwebs. I’ve made butternut squash and apple soup for supper, but it’s too early to eat, and my body hurts from running and yoga.

‘Come on, Magic,’ I say to our little black cat, ‘let’s put the telly on.’

Stuck in a lonely limbo

Here I am, aged 48 – too young to be old and too old to be young – on my own after waving goodbye to my precious daughter who has moved away to university, hot on the heels of my firstborn son. My heart is heavy and, when I am not exhausting myself working furiously or exercising, I feel rudderless and lonely. A bubble of sadness hovers over every day. I’m grieving but no one has died.

I became a mother at 21, having left my family home to marry my teenage love. No surprise, I craved adventure, so we emigrated from South Africa with our five-year-old boy for uncharted shores. My daughter was born in the UK and I put down roots, which burrowed deeper and deeper as the children started school, established lives and we caught a glimpse of their shimmering futures. Proud and protective, my existence was so wrapped up in theirs, it never occurred to me that parents die, relationships end, beloved sisters, still living in Cape Town, won’t be joining me for ice cream on seaside jaunts, and children… well, children grow up and leave.

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