Alone Time

April 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

I don’t know what it’s like for other people, but I don’t think they understand how okay I am alone.

The only time I wasn’t okay was the one year that I lived alone in Atlanta, but that wasn’t so much living alone as much as it was being away from Alec. He didn’t feel the same desire to be with me every second, but I suffered whenever we were apart. Once we moved in together, that changed and I reverted to my normal self.

I was talking with my parents at dinner about alone time last night. We’re very similar, the members of my nuclear family, in that we’re all perfectly fine alone. We like people in small doses, but generally, we need a lot of alone time or we get irritated/irritable. Mom was telling me about a family psychologist who encourages people to give their kids alone time. One parental unit was advised to give their kids focused alone time, during which they would spend a certain length of time with just one toy or just one book, just one game, etc. Because otherwise they’re getting too much attention or have too many distractions, it prevents them from being able to focus as youths, teenagers, and adults.

We laughed because my parents never had to do that with my brother and I. We were naturally inclined to want to be alone, and I don’t think either of us ever suffered from overstimulation from too many toys. My brother and I rarely played together; we usually just played separately in our rooms and once we got to junior high and high school, we almost never came out of our rooms. I shared a distinct memory with them of when Morgan Claus was babysitting Ian and I for the first time. I think we were in third or fourth grade. She brought over all these games and was so excited about them, but when she invited us to play, Ian and I both politely declined and retreated to our separate bedrooms. She would periodically check on us, knocking on the door and peeking her head in, at which time I would stop what I was doing to turn and look at her, giving a firm “I’m fine.” when she would ask how things were going and if I needed anything or wanted to do something else. Finally, she stopped intruding. I went to check on her one time, just to see what she was doing out of sheer curiosity. I peeked down at her from between the railings. She was doing her homework at the bottom of the stairs. I returned to my room until my parents got home.

This isn’t to say that I don’t get lonely, because I certainly do. If I didn’t have pets, I would probably go crazy (or just kill myself). But if I have an animal or two, I’m pretty okay alone. I sing a lot when I’m alone, and I talk to myself as much as to the animal(s), so it’s not like there’s an oppressive silence.

We moved so much when I was a kid, I was kind of conditioned not to get too involved with people, not to get too emotionally attached, because I knew it was only a matter of time before we moved again.

I got very attached to people in high school, maybe because I knew we were going to stay for more than a few years, or maybe just because that was the time in my development that led me to be more involved in other people’s lives. We lived out in the country, so I would always drive into town to see my friends. My parents became very upset with me over time because my friends would never drive out to Hayden to see me, so I felt uncomfortable about driving into town to see them so much.

It was probably for the best anyway, since my friends and I had drifted as I got older. They were all experimenting with sex, weed, and alcohol, but I was totally absorbed in my own depression. I was grappling with the “mortality issue” of humanity — the fact that everyone dies. It was incredibly emotionally painful for me to look at the people around me and know that either I would have to live without them or they would have to live without me. I also spent a lot of time mooning over guys who would never be interested in me, or if they were interested in me, they couldn’t make that leap to get involved with a girl like me (who could blame them! I used to sob like a lunatic when I would drive home after seeing my friends because I knew they would die someday. no teenager wants to be around that.).

When I got to college, I was alone a lot after freshman year. I did try to make friends, to enjoy college life, to try and have the experience that everyone else seemed to have in college. It just didn’t take. The friends I made freshman year started getting on my nerves, we fought until we hated each other or we all drifted apart. Junior and senior year I didn’t even bother to learn the names of the other students in my classes. I just didn’t care. They weren’t interesting to me and I knew I would be leaving Atlanta after graduation, so what was the point?

In DC, it was the same thing. I would get a job and be friendly with people at work, but we would rarely hang out outside of work. I knew I wasn’t going to stay at those jobs for long, so I didn’t see a point in getting super invested.

Now I’m back in Alabama, and I am doing the same thing.

Maybe I’m just broken, I don’t know. Maybe I’m so used to leaving after a lifetime spent doing it that it’s just second nature now. I feel the same about leaving Alabama as I did about DC, about Atlanta, about high school. In my heart, there’s a slight twinge knowing that I will in some way miss my life as it was in that place, or as it is now. I know I will miss the people in my life. But I’m such a forward-thinker. I jump in to new places and devour my new surroundings, the new people I meet. I’m the perfect example of “out of sight, out of mind.” I move on quickly when there are new things to see and do. It doesn’t mean I don’t love things about my life here, or that I don’t care about the people I’m with now. It just means I went into it knowing it would be temporary, and I’ve accepted that and have no problem moving on.

Moving on past Alec was much harder than I care to admit most days, but I think that’s just because I didn’t see him as temporary. I honestly thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with the guy, so I did seriously emotionally invest.

I think I have good self-control though and a lot of determination. They keep me looking forward, moving forward, never trying to go back. My emotions may be raging inside, but as far as the rest of the world is concerned, everyone assumes I could care less because I don’t act on my emotions. Just because I don’t act on them, doesn’t mean I don’t have them or that I’m not thinking about acting on them. I don’t act on them because I’m a fucking adult and I’m trying to do what’s best for me in a clear, consistent way.

I’ve built up something of a thick skin as well. That isn’t to say that things don’t affect me, because they certainly do. Some guy says something harsh to me, whether true or not, still hurts like a bitch, but I bounce back very quickly. No matter how upset or depressed I get, I almost always go back to normal in less than two days. I don’t know if there’s a word for that, resilience doesn’t seem quite right, but it’s one of my traits that I value the most. It’s definitely what’s gotten me this far.

I don’t know where I’m going after here. Unless something really exciting and unexpected falls into my lap, I will not be staying in Alabama past August. I don’t know what’s next, but I’m ready for it and open to it. I embrace the new and the unknown.

I’m not afraid, and I’m not afraid of being alone.

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§ One Response to Alone Time

  • Wally says:

    The recollection of alone time is really interesting. It’s a shared trait on this side of the family as well. I was always expected to “figure it out yourself,” so I got very used to finding my own space and looking for ways to get some answers that weren’t pressured by other people’s desire to insert noise. That continues to this day. I like people and enjoy being around them, but I’m happy to be in a coffee shop or public park and feel the sense of the world drifting in and out rather than feel like I have to insert myself into a particular conversation or situation.

    It has helped me to recall the two or three times I’ve done what I wanted and was utterly happy, at one with the cosmos, and in the groove. No matter what else you say or rationalize, your most important values are tied to those moments and what you liked about what you were doing. Any map reset for me starts there.

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