wise words: alone

“‘Tis better to be alone, than in bad company.” -George Washington

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When this life, strewn with dirty laundry, piled with dishes, and with three children and a partner hanging off of it, gets to be too much, I pine.  I wistfully long for those years of my life spent single, alone, the matriarch of my time and energy. I wish I had held on to those mornings more carefully; you know the ones where you got up, read a few chapters, maybe write a few words, roll over and nap, enjoy a cup of tea in the sun, eat a bit, think about how to fill the hours between then and when you have dinner plans with friends.

Lately there has been a lot of ‘too much’ and a lot of ‘pining’ for those years that feel so lost to me now.  Once upon a time, I didn’t even know why I was so surly.  I didn’t know that I needed to be alone.  I didn’t know it was okay to need that.  I felt guilty, like I should be grateful, like motherhood was supposed to fill me up, oozing into all the cracks and crevices of who I was until I ‘became’ and didn’t need anymore than motherhood would bring me.  If I resisted, if I tried to dam off the flow to protect parts of myself I knew I couldn’t give up, I felt the resistance, I felt like I was lying or cheating or not living up to something.  But who even knows what that something is.

I swam against the currents inside myself, the tide that kept pulling at me to be alone, to create, to write.  The more I did, the more frustrated I became, the harder it became to feel happiness.  I pointed and yelled and blamed.  Still I never stopped to listen to that whisper that I heard so often trying to coax me to just do that little bit to take care of myself.  I was miserable yet I plodded along my daily checklist of should/would/could, my head in a constant fog of low level depression.

When my 10 year relationship with my ex ended I stressed over the time I would be without my children and my heart ached.  Then I found myself having gobs and gobs of alone time I could fill up however I chose! I didn’t have to answer to anyone, or ask permission, or negotiate (that is, of course, after the children were in bed or when they were with her).  Oh, how I sat lavishly in my apartment, or wherever I wanted, and soaked it up.  At first I felt slightly guilty that I really liked my time alone and that I didn’t always miss them when they were with her.  But when I started to feel like myself again, when I started to recover those parts of myself that had sat wilted and shriveled for so many years, I realized the guilt was pointless.

It felt so amazing to not have to ask permission for anything – to not even feel that pause.  I made a couple big decisions, I took care of myself, I managed my (MY!) home, I fixed things, I felt like a grown up!  Finally, after believing for so long that I was ‘content’, I truly felt what happiness is.

Yet, things seem to have circled around again.  I’m the mother of a young child who, while happy and joyous, requires a lot of hands-on parenting and is with me 24/7.  I have a partner who isn’t as intuitive as I want him to be; who even when I state a clear need, can’t always be counted on to put any effort in to help me meet it.

I find myself feeling frantic and surly, daydreaming of islands and cabins in the woods and places without phones or, dare I say it, the internet.  This time though, the guilt that once caused me to push my daydreams aside, is quieter and has been put in it’s place by reality.  I know what’s at stake. I know what I’m feeling this time is anxiety.  I know that in order to fix it, to heal, I need to be alone, to write, to take that time.

Except, I don’t know how to be this person.  I don’t know how to be selfish in this context.  I don’t know how to be alone and to get what I need without worrying that I’m shirking some relationship or parenting responsibility in the process.  There is a quiet voice saying “quit making excuses already!” and I want to listen do it, dear god, I want so badly to listen to it.  I wonder, what will it take?


linking up with Kirsetin for Wise Words Wednesdays (better late than never… and as usual I kind of ran away with the prompt, but I never was a big rule follower)


4 thoughts on “wise words: alone

  1. So much of this hits home with me. I like being alone. I NEED to be alone sometimes. I try not to feel guilty when the kids are at Grandma’s house and I don’t miss them. Many days I feel attacked, body and soul, with all the attention my little ones require. So when I get a chance to slip away and just be me, not a wife, not a mom, just me for a bit, things get back to balanced and I’m a much better mom when they return.

  2. No wonder I like you so much! We are on the same team: “I’m captain of the non-confrontation team”: Northern Virginia Branch. It’s wonderful to grow, change, be around the other “shoots” to teach you some valuable life lessons. At the time, it may not feel that way, but when I look back, I can see how I’ve grown through these challenges. These are the moments I feel most proud of myself.

    Great post!

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