The way I see it there are two types of people, the loners and the lovers. Loners feel the need to be alone and lovers feel the need to be with others. Lately I have been contemplating a bit about my natural tendency to be a loner. I have rarely been able to be that loner beginning with the fact that I was born into a large family, married very young, had four children and now four grandchildren as well as the fact that both sides of our families love each other and want to be together. I do appreciate the fact that we get along and love each other but there is this little part of me that I keep squashing down that wants to go somewhere and read, write, take long walks and explore by myself. Is this unnatural?
I remember taking walks as a kid to get away from the chaos and noise of our household. I would sit in the forest and just listen and watch nature for hours. As a teenager I would go shopping with my friends but I hated it. Not that I didn't like my friends, I just didn't like the pull of doing what everyone else wanted to do. I would prefer to shop alone. Every once in a while I would skip school and take a long drive. Alone. Don't tell my kids. Oh they read this. Well they are all grown now and I know they skipped school too occasionally.
**Note to kids: Don't look at me with shocked faces thinking I didn't know.
As a young overwhelmed mother who always worked full time outside the home I used to feel desperate sometimes. Desperate to get away and be alone. The pull of the family needing me and my work needing me left me feeling like I needed to disappear where no one knew my name or my face. Somewhere that I could freely rest, read and not feel guilty. Of course that never happened and as the children grew things got better but I still felt that occasional pull. Still do at times.
I think the thing that saved my sanity was that I drove to and from work alone. Farmer at that time took his own vehicle because we lived in town and I often had to drop kids at school or day care. During that ten to fifteen minutes I had alone, free thinking time. When we moved out to the country that ended. To conserve gas we began riding together. It took me quite some time to get used to the fact that now even my drive was taken up with another person. Not that I don't love and appreciate my husband but I was feeling the pull again. Again I found myself adjusting to the lack of privacy.
A few other things helped during this time. The first was the annual "sisters vacations" where only my three sisters and any sister-in-laws that wished to come would get together. They were pretty cheap vacations because in the beginning we would stay at my sisters house while her husband took their kids and went to visit his family. They eventually morphed into staying a few days at a beach house or an occasional hotel. The rule was no husbands or children were allowed. That is until our daughters reached 18. Then they began to come. Why was this helpful? After all we were all together. But there were no demands on our time and we could reconnect.
Another thing that helped was the occasional trip to the Trappist Monastery where even though I went with a group of women for the weekend, the idea was to rest and refresh. We each had our own room and could choose to be together or not. Long hikes were taken each day. Prayer and contemplation were some things that I almost felt guilty pleasure in.
The final thing I think saved my sanity and the one I loved the most was the annual trip to my home town the beginning of August to pick huckleberries. I went alone. It was only for a weekend but I would camp by myself and pick from the first spark of daylight until it was so dark I could barely find my way back to the car. I literally picked all day, each day. This gave me all the time in the world to let my mind work without interruption, to smell the smells and to hear the sounds of nature. I would be bone tired at the end of the day but as I lay down and closed my eyes, the picture of huckleberry bushes would be all I could see under my eyelids, imprinted on my brain and I would be lulled to sleep easily.
It is probably a good thing that I have not been allowed to follow my natural instinct. I would surely be a very selfish and moody person had I followed that path. Each unnatural and uncomfortable feeling I have had and continue to feel always made me stretch. I certainly can look back and now see the love and lessons. Although the farmer never understood my need to get away and be alone he never complained. He once told me he never felt that need and in fact he feels the opposite. He especially feels the pull of being with family and after a few days alone he becomes restless. This is one reason I know that he loves me.
Are you a loner or a lover?