"Solitude is the cure for loneliness. Like cures like." — Caroline Casey
It's been a long time since I've had a good bit of solitude. I do feel lonely every now and then but not too often. I spend a lot of time connecting, reaching out, making contact with others, but I also have moments that are quieter. I'm not often alone but I get glimpses. Since motherhood, I also have problems not being with my family. And by problems I mean that I have a hard time not being with them. Not all the time. But when there are activities in which we can ALL be together I usually choose that option over splitting up. Some of this has to do with fear of people dying. Yes, that's right. Fear. Of. People. Not-just-any-people-but-my-people. Dying.
I'm pretty sure I was born with this fear and have always operated under zero assumption that anyone is coming back when they leave. I have no rational explanation for this, but I remember it from the beginning of my memories. Nightmares. Intense separation anxiety as a child. I think it dissapated somewhere around middle or high school [self-obsessed] and returning when I fell in love with B. He traveled a lot and over time I actually made some incremental progress with this particular anxiety. And, then, kids.
Since then, I've been in "on" mode pretty much 24/7. There are several gradations of the anxiety, but it's never really gone. Smart/cell phones have enabled me to feed my fear when I'm not with them. It can be very unpretty. And I make no apologies. I'm almost embarrassed to write about this one because I feel like many people don't know it about me, but the more moms I talk to and become friends with and share my dirty little secret with, the more I find who have the same problem. Which has two effects: (1) I'm not alone (2) I'm not crazy...and I'm not sure this is healthy reinforcement but there you have it. "Like cures like."
When I think of a time in my life that I've had "solitude" I think about the times I traveled alone in Europe during college. In particular, 2 days in to a 15 or so day journey, I remember having a bit of a breakdown in Rome. This was at the end of 6 months studying abroad and a week or so of travel with a good friend. I was tired. I was lonely. I was scared. I was alone. More foreign languages, more cultural customs, more figuring out to do. I'm not sure this matters but this was pre-cell phone world. I mean, they existed, but no one had one. I didn't. I was done and afraid the amazing trip I had planned for myself would just be too much. So I did what any girl in my situation would do: I found a McDonald's, ordered a Happy Meal, and went up to this park overlooking the city and cried and ate and wrote about it all. It was (and became), of course, the best trip and experience of my life.
Solitude. Is. Underrated. And sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to feel true solitude again. I'm lucky enough that I've had occasional time away with friends, with B, from the busy-ness and noise and depth of motherhood life, and while I think some of these moments have been resorative, even meaningful, mostly they've been good distractions, reminders, breath-givers. All good, wonderful, and necessary things - or optimal at least.
I think I'm ready. For. Some. Solitude. Even if it scares me.