it’s taken me a really long time to learn how to be alone.
i don’t mean the kind of alone that happens only when everyone else i live with leaves the house and i have time to watch a movie, fold laundry or surf the internet in peace.
i mean the kind of alone where i remove myself from my space… a retreat if you will. to somewhere unfamiliar, without all the trimmings – no tv (not that we have one anyway), no magazines, no internet, no fancy camera (i left my shiny new dslr at home), no distractions. a place where the water is heated by lighting a fire, drinking water is collected from an outside tap, the loo is outside the accommodations; there’s nothing to do, nothing to fix, nowhere else to be.
it made me kinda twitchy. okay, really twitchy.
shouldn’t i be DOing something? reading a book? i wonder if i should make some more tea. sweep the floor (again). go for a walk? i started out with all these rules in my head about what this time would look like, what was going to happen, what i would do, what i would get out of it, what i would ACHIEVE… and i have no idea why. it seemed somehow that i was trying to set myself up to fail because i wouldn’t be able to keep to this program i had pre-defined.
it took patience to be still. and quiet.
i don’t mean the quiet of not talking to anyone else; i’m talking about the quiet of not thinking and the quiet of listening.
there were a couple of the first days where i fell into unhealthy patterns of trying to disconnect – eating food i didn’t want (or need) and swigging back wine to try and avoid any kind of conversation with myself about what was really going on.
i did wonder if i was going to go bat-shit crazy being alone for over a week.
however as i stuck with it, the feeling of calm and of knowing how to be alone (without feeling lonely) for an extended period of time, came so naturally that i don’t even remember when it happened, or how i transitioned from feeling-like-i-ought-to-be-doing-something to simply being. i just remember sitting on the step one evening realising that a whole day had gone by where i hadn’t felt at all uncomfortable or like i should be anywhere but right where i was.
and with that realisation, and the realisation that i wasn’t broken and had nothing to be afraid of, there were no further attempts to avoid myself – no more junk food, no more quaffing back the wine as if to shut the world (or myself) out. my movements became more relaxed, i saw more, heard more, slept better, and made it out the other side only slightly more crazy than when i went in!
the things that really are important to me finally got the chance to be heard. and i listened.
If she got really quiet and listened, new parts of her wanted to speak.
i do know that what i expected that i would get out of this time alone (when i began) was totally not what emerged. it was something better. something that i felt i could put on and wear because it fits me. it was my retreat, with me listening to myself, giving me what i needed, rather than following someone else’s rules or guidelines for what a retreat should look like. actually, i didn’t even follow my own rules and guidelines. i chilled the fuck out and let everything unfold itself naturally without trying to pressure myself into coming up with a Big Life Plan.
and today, of all the thousands of wishes i could make, this one seems to want to be spoken first:
i wish for you to be able to find the time and space (however much or little that you need/can reserve for yourself) in order to sit and listen to any parts that want to speak.
may it be so
oh, PS (totally offtopic) – just a wee update about my book… my etsy shop is in vacation mode, however if you want to buy my book of poems, click on the image on the sidebar (or this link here) and you will be taken to a preview, and can purchase, on blurb. cheers