When I find myself in the aftermath of a stressful, or otherwise overwhelming situation, I retreat. I withdraw from everyone. I am convinced that me retreating is a means of self preservation. I liken it to when a computer has an overload and still manages to function, but only in “Safe mode”. It only uses basic features until the underlying problem is sorted out. I like to talk about what happened to me straight up, after it happened, to “Get it off my chest” (so to speak) before hiding away. I find Solitude comforting, deliberately taking time to recover from whatever stress has effected me. It allows me to gather and order my thoughts. In solitude, I spend time engrossed in one of my hobbies. I can also enjoy a glass of wine, or a meal, or a movie and not have to interact with anyone.
My comfortability with solitude began shortly after I left my husband about eight years ago. I endured a difficult period where I struggled to expose myself to extended periods of social interaction. My job at the time was very social. I was a sales person in the Direct-selling industry. It involved marketing my products through Home Demonstrations. It was like attending parties 3-4 times a week with strangers. I enjoyed it immensely! I noticed however, that in attending friend and family events, I felt different. I’d get overwhelmed and just shrink away from those in attendance. Sometimes without even a Goodbye to anyone. I just hoped no one would notice I had left. Most times they didn’t. I wonder now whether m retreating was because I didn’t want to reveal too much about how I honestly felt at the time.
People were never mean or overbearing and it wasn’t that I didn’t like people. I just didn’t feel comfortable in social settings, disconnected is a good way to describe the feeling. It may have been due to a slight depression, but nevertheless, I was more comfortable being alone. Being alone, I didn’t have to pretend I was happy. I could think about things with out having to put on the fake smile and pretend my life was rosy. I enjoyed the space I had created for myself and my kids in our small, safe rented home. I had decorated it, without arguing with anyone, to make it just how I wanted it. I mention the “no arguing with anyone” as my ex husband disagreed with every single decorating choice I suggested in the 12 years we were together.
Admitting that I enjoy solitude seems so WEIRD, as I used to be a highly social person. I loved being the life of the party, loved being the last one to go home. I enjoyed catching up with friends, having people over to my place all the time and taking my children here, there and everywhere. I enjoyed entertaining people and being in the Limelight, something I think I craved for self-validation; of welcoming the praise of others because it made me feel good to receive them – of being popular in social circles because it offset the low opinion I had of myself.
That seems like a lifetime ago.
I’ve experienced and survived so many things since then that have shaped me into the Woman I am today. I am comfortable in my own skin. I no longer need praise from others to feel good about myself. I like to process things quietly. After a stressful situation I like to do things that bring me joy. Most of the time, after the metaphorical “shit hitting the fan” has happened.. I like to be on my own, in solitude, alone with my own thoughts. I see nothing wrong with that, that short periods spent in solitude are totally acceptable.
That being said, complete, extended periods of isolation can be unhealthy. I learned that the hard way. I lied to people to be alone, and in doing so burned bridges. It’s better if you are just straight up with your friends and family – tell them you do not feel like getting together, or you need space because you want to be alone. They should respect this wish.
Not everyone understands this need to be alone. Still others might feel the need to want to comfort, or help out because if they were you, that’s what THEY would want. Some NEED support when they are stressed and that’s ok too. But, I am not one of them, and when this happens, the feeling I get is that they don’t respect MY feelings and I feel crowded. It also feels like they want to comfort me to make them selves feel better instead of helping ME feel better.
I am not saying I don’t need people. I understand life is easier when you have a support network and people to support you through tough times. Hell, I am the first to offer out my hand to help others going through a tough time. With me I just don’t need people around at that particular moment.
Surely I am not alone here! Let me know by commenting below, if you too enjoy solitude and silence for a short time after a stressful situation!