Sometimes I just need to take a break from the world. It isn’t that I don’t love the world. It’s the exact opposite. Sometimes I love the world too much to bear.
Like so many others, I have a tough time with balance. I am an all-or-nothing person. When I’m in the world, I want to see it all, learn it all, be all things to all people. I have a really hard time slowing down the drive to grow.
This isn’t a terrible thing, obviously. But I have limited energy and time.
My solution is to withdraw and hide. It took me a long time to learn that there’s nothing wrong with taking time for myself.
I used to feel guilty for needing space. I don’t feel guilty anymore, but I still get a bit defensive, which tells me that on some level I still worry that it may be wrong to need alone time.
Because it’s not just that I need a hot bath and a glass of wine (two things I don’t actually do). It’s that I don’t want to touch anyone or anyone to touch me. I don’t want to think or see or feel. I want to step into the void, a vacuum of nothing.
I just want to float away with my keyboard and my pillow and a pile of books.
When it was just me, all those years ago, this worked fine. But now that I’ve built a life with a husband and kids and friends, it’s much harder.
People wonder where I’ve gone. They ask after me. Sometimes their feelings get hurt, but it isn’t personal. It isn’t that I don’t love them. It’s just that loving them takes all that I have, and I need to recharge.
I haven’t figured out how to love myself in the midst of loving others. I wonder if I ever will. I think there are a lot of people who feel this way.
We are introverts.
Some mistake my withdrawal for depression. Aside from some very low situational depressive moments in my life, I don’t think I’ve ever had depression. When I hear people with true depression describe their experience, I feel compassion but not accord. Their experience is not my own.
What I feel is a literal metabolic depletion with a very simple solution. I need space. I need quiet. I need rest. The amount I need depends on the amount of stimulation I’ve been exposed to.
A loud concert can deplete me for a week.
When my husband has been gone for work for a few weeks, the very first thing I need when he gets home is a drive by myself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the grocery store or Target just to be alone.
Other introverts know the feeling of dread that descends when you run into someone who wants to chat at the store.
It could be my best friend or a long-lost relative. I could be genuinely happy to see the person and filled with love and joy at the sight of their face.
And yet… This was my moment of peace, and here they are, all up in my grill.
It’s okay to be quiet.
My kids ask me, “What’s wrong,” if I’m washing dishes with a certain focus, a certain look of distance on my face.
I’m not lying when I answer, “Nothing!” But I’m not sure they believe me.
I was just doing my thing, in my bubble, filling my cup with love in the form of quiet so I have more to give away.
Copyright © 2019 Sara Beth Wald