For many years I couldn’t stand to be alone with myself. The silence would make me crazy-anxious.
I don’t really remember why that was; I just remember that I felt really compulsive about moving around, creating activities for myself, filling in the empty spaces of my life with noise.
And then, I had boys. Lots of them.
And, all of a sudden, solitude became a luxury like none other. Truly. Going to the bathroom by yourself became a real treat. I would so look forward to those one or two hours a week when I didn’t have to keep anyone else alive.
Gradually, their needs changed. They didn’t need me in such a “hands on” capacity. But, for some reason, I didn’t notice that, as they needed me differently, I could actually take more time for myself.
Instead of giving that time and space back to myself, I gave it to some other non-essential activity that presented itself to me. I became “room parent” or helped with the Valentine’s Day party. I got involved in service work for my community that someone else could have done. I entertained even though I was exhausted.
In other words, I continued to increase my level of activity, even though it wasn’t required. I didn’t notice that the stuff I was doing was NOT feeding my soul. (click to tweet)
Besides, everyone else was doing it, too.
Your thirties are like that. Those are the years when you begin to lose yourself. Your slip into over-functioning is ever so subtle. But, once you’re fully in the center of the Mindless Activity Quicksand, you start to sink. And you are so far gone, there is nothing nearby to hold on to for purchase.
And now we are at our forties. Our responsibilities have shifted, but we are sinking into exhaustion and can’t quite see our way clear.
In Step 1 of this series, we began to heal by stopping our mindless activities. We took a brief moratorium from over-functioning, so that clarity of purpose can appear again. If you missed that piece, you can read it here.
In Step 2, we add solitude into our lives. Every day, one day at a time, you commit to at least 15 minutes of stillness. If you are really willing and ready to let go of your martyr status, go for 30 minutes.
During this time, you can do whatever you wish, as long as it’s not for someone else. Nope, no folding laundry all by yourself. Or cleaning out the cat box either. Come on – you know you’re tempted.
Spend thirty minutes all by yourself. Draw in your journal. Cut out pictures from magazines that appeal to you. Make a Dream Board for yourself.
The key to this action is consistency. It’s not good enough to “do solitude” every third day.
Today is the day. Now is the time. Begin even as you are reading these words. In the Wisdom Circle comments below, please commit to your daily solitude appointment. When will you do it today? What do you think you would enjoy doing during that time?
Please don’t put this off – even for one day. If you do, it will never happen. And your life – the gift you are uniquely qualified to give the universe – is much too essential for that.
P.S. Here’s where you commit to change. If you’re not already a part of the Life After Tampons community, join here. I promise, it won’t hurt a bit. Because I never spam. And I’m really, really fun.
Besides, I’m not selling anything anyway – except the idea that you CAN actually love your life more. Well, now that I think about it, I guess I am selling something. I’m selling HOPE. If you don’t want that, ignore this part of the post. Not everyone aspires to be Happy, Joyous, and FREE!
Photo: Flickr, John Singer Sargent, by Alaskan Dude