…that I love alone-time so. Or maybe it’s motherhood. Or my mental state. Whatever it is, I really do love a bit of space and time to be myself, by myself. It’s taken me many, many years to realise that this is OK, that my
gut-felt hatred dislikes of large groups, of conversing in a group of more than three friends, of having every minute of every day accounted for, of being asked to talk about myself, doesn’t actually make me defective, or less than. It just makes me, me.
I cannot explain what a relief it is and how empowering it is to accept this and not try to change, to fit in, to be more like [insert name of whatever charming, sociable, energetic, confident woman I happen to have encountered on any given day], to simply say, “This is me, and this is what I need”. To be honest, I love people. I love finding out about people, what makes them tick, what’s important to them, especially if shared interests and passions are discovered. I like being in the company of the people I love, my family, my friends, I love chatting about nonsense with, I love passionate conversations and discussions about Important Stuff. I think the human race is amazing and wonderful and we can all learn so much from and give so much to each other.
I also love silence. And space. And I really love my own company. I love listening to music. Alone. I love watching trash TV. Alone. I love crocheting and drawing and writing and reading crime novels and parenting books and craft magazines. Alone. Peacefully, blissfully alone. I love doing nothing, having no agenda, no deadlines, no expectations, no plans, no-one depending on me for anything, no-one asking anything physical, emotional or mental of me, just time and space to be. There’s not enough credit given to just being, in my opinion. Sometimes we simply need to be and not do, it quietens the thoughts and lifts the soul.
And then I get bored or lonely or in need of conversation and I need to seek out company again. Noticing all this, understanding all these (contradictory) needs in myself, has taken a long time. And it’s taken a lot of energy to be able to communicate this to the people who need to understand it the most. I generally don’t do well at communicating needs and feelings, but I’m getting better at it.
The hardest part of all this is parenting two very energetic, very loud, very busy, very expressive children. My children are extroverts. They are wild, they love to shout (why talk to someone at the same table when you can SHOUT LIKE AN ARMY MAJOR IN THEIR FACE), nothing is slow, nothing is worth waiting for, everything is fast and now and loud and a billion miles an hour. Which is brilliant when I am feeling energetic and playful in the right frame of mind. It is utterly exhausting and draining and patience-testing when I am not. When I am tired (98% of the time), or if I’ve not had enough time to myself or to do something creative or to drink coffee, I feel myself shrinking inwards, feeling like a dehydrated flower, all droopy and sad, and getting stroppy and irritated and shouty. And this is also where my anxiety rises, the guilt builds (I am not a good mother, I am not enough, I should do more, I should do better, I should be better), and then depression looms. I get snappy, I get irritated by the tiniest of things, I feel rushed for no reason, patience and tolerance disappear and instead nothing is good enough, no-one can do anything properly, least of all myself. I hate the way I snap, the way I speak to my children, the way I lose my shit at others, I hate how I act, how I behave, I hate who I am. I hate myself. I am not good enough. I hate myself. I am a bad mother. I am a bad wife. I am bad for this world. I hate myself.
And then I crumble. I cry and I lay in bed too long, I stay in pjs, I withdraw. I spend time alone and I feel better. My energy builds, the space allows creativity to grow, thoughts to be thought and re-thought and analysed and changed (or not), my Self to come back, positivity and light and humour, patience and tolerance and acceptance to return. And so the cycle continues. I am getting better (slowly, but surely) at speaking out before I get to this wretched state, of asking for more help or more time on my own, of understanding that if I stop doing the things I love I start to become someone I hate, but it’s a slow progress and it’s still very new to me to talk about all this stuff.
So is this because I’m an introvert? Or because I’m a Highly Sensitive Person? Or because of depression? Or anxiety? Is it because I’m a parent? Who knows. I’ve still not figured out the Whys yet. But I do know that this life is all about balance, not all one thing or another, that everything goes in cycles and phases, and I know that in order to meet the needs of others I need to meet my needs first. And for this mama that means having plenty of space!