The author explains the pressure society puts on women to identify as part of a relationship and the shame and fear that single women put upon themselves. Then she offers meditations and inspiring case studies of women--young, old, widowed, divorced, those cheated on, those abandoned, and those feeling alone even if they're in a relationship--handling their situation with aplomb and confidence.
(79) The challenge for women alone is to learn how to sit with those disquieting feelings of loss and pain and the anxiety they are likely to engender, rather than find ways to escape. Fear and anxiety can grow particularly acute when we dare to enter the feeling of emptiness that is inside us. As one woman describes it, "That's when I feel like a bottomless pit of need." By sitting with these feelings, they start to lose their stranglehold over their lives. Solitude allows us to discover that we are more than the sum of our pain; it helps to shift our longings, so heavily invested in our own sense of neediness and dependency, toward meaningful and life-affirming pursuits. Gradually, we gain back our voice, and the self breathes free. Thus begins the "art" of being a woman alone.
(164) What women alone need to hear is the voice that refutes these assumptions, that implores us to honor ourselves, that reassures us that change is possible, that says we are fully capable of making our own choices. This voice is in each one of us. It's the voice of the young girl we once knew, exulted in, and then lost track of...the best friend we haven't seen in thirty years or more... Its words do not continue to divide us from ourselves but rather begin to make us feel whole. It is the voice of our authentic self, and, for most of us, its sound has been muffled for so long that when we do begin to hear it, it can sound too loud and rude: it says things a good girl doesn't say, even if we blush and try to tone it down. Many women sadly tell me their own authentic voice sounds "too large," "too overbearing," "too demanding," or "too powerful." Ironically, although we may feel great entitlement in our professional lives, have no qualms about spending a lot of money on clothes or taking a vacation, the decibel level of our voice is out of hearing range when it comes to the places deep inside us that wait to be awakened.