Many years ago, before my marriage ended, I sat in my room one night and thought to myself, “I just want to be alone.” I was Mom to three young children, I worked outside the home, and I took care of a large, old farmhouse, mostly by myself. My marriage wasn’t great, but it wasn’t that bad, either. A short while after wishing to be alone, my wish was granted when my spouse told me he wanted to divorce. I freaked out, but quickly adjusted and got on with my life. I found that I liked being alone, unmarried. It felt peaceful and uncluttered.
I’ve recently come to realize that I am missing my alone time. When I moved to my new home almost a year ago, I looked at my new alone life as an adventure, something to be savored. Now I find that dream interrupted by circumstances in my life that involve others needing to be here with me. I find myself asking the question, “When did I become such a loner?”
I work in the very people oriented field of social work. All day long I talk, listen, counsel, humor, and console people. I love my work, but when I leave the building, I want to be alone. I want to listen to only my thoughts. I want to spend time reading and writing. I want to go for a walk. I want to watch the television shows that I enjoy. It is my time to regenerate and refuel for the next busy day when I work to serve others.
Sharing my home with someone has been both wonderful and frustrating, but mostly it has cut down on my alone time. I didn’t realize the effect it has had on me until I came home tonight and had the house to myself for the first time in a while. It felt so peaceful to come home and be alone. I realize that not all people are comfortable being alone. In fact, most people I know don’t like it. It makes me wonder what they like to do for themselves, something that gives back to them. Many years ago I read a book called, Take Time for Your Life, by Cheryl Richardson. She talks about a concept called extreme self- care, about making your life a high priority. What a radical concept. All my life I’ve heard about being selfless and giving to others first. This book gave me permission to make me a priority. What I discovered was that by making my life priority, I was able to give more to others. When I take care of myself and my needs, I have more energy to serve others. Without extreme self-care, I would have long ago burnt out in my very demanding job of taking care of people suffering from dementia and mental illness. It’s a very important job that needs all of me to be present.
During this busy season, be sure to make some time for things that are important to you. Give yourself the gift of time to replenish your soul and have a happy holiday.
Yours in transformation,