I lived alone for a Very Long Time.
I never had a problem having alone time. I love alone time. I'd occasionally miss having someone to socialize with or snuggle with; but it wasn't a primary issue in my life nor one i gave much thought to. My career was on track, I had plenty of time and money to do the things I wanted to do, etc. Those things had no need to include other people most of the time.
I had reached my goal: a fully independent, autonomous, successful adult.
I had also gotten up to 260lbs, was sitting on a couch working with the TV on in the background. I'd walk and play with the dogs and do training but I rarely went out and socialized. When I got Milton I even stopped taking the dogs to the dog park where I had made a few "dog park friends."
Then one day I stepped on the scale and it says 258.6. I wasn't willing to let it get to 260.
A year later I was down by 60lbs. I was doing Crossfit and getting closer to doing an unassisted kipping pull-up with my actual goal being a dead hang pull-up. Because momentum is for suckers.
Anyway. I lost the weight, I got fitter, I was eating healthy, I was emotionally balanced, happy, and confident. I started dating.
Many years later I now live with two of my partners and have a wonderful, loving long-distance partner who I don't see nearly enough.
What does this mean?
I don't get much time alone at all and that is a huge struggle. Cohabitation does not come naturally to me at all. I'm having a hard time finding ways to make room for myself and my needs, to find time to exercise, to skate, to swim, to play with the dogs (that was much easier when they were indoor dogs. :( I miss that.) and to snuggle with Mali (same thing). However I have constant human companionship and love even during difficult times as we grow and learn each other and how to live together.
My partners want time with me, they want to connect, they love me. I love them and want to spend time with them and connect. I need more hours in the day to meet all these needs!
My needs for immense amounts of alone time have not disappeared. It has felt like a big disconnect. It's one we talked about before we first moved in together and at first I didn't need all that time alone. It was new and special and awesome to always hang out. To sit on the couch with the laptop reading away while my partners did their own thing was like heaven. It was Cohabitation NRE.
It didn't last. I imagine that over time it ended up feeling to others like a bait and switch. That probably sucked and still sucks for them and all of the friends I withdraw from when I'm over-stimulated, depressed, and need a time out. A long time out.
Over time, though, disconnects happened. Someone would want to watch a show while another would want to write and another would want to game or go out, or blah-de-blah. We didn't mesh as well.
When I started working in an office my ability to handle visual stimuli outside of the office diminished rapidly. I'm no longer nearly so eager to look at monitors outside of the office. I played 7 minutes of WoW and wanted to claw my eyes out. My partners love cartoons; I am at best ambivalent if not downright bored and uninterested in most cartoons. If I am going to watch TV I'd rather watch HGTV and The Food Network. We don't have Cable TV.
Most importantly I haven't proactively taken downtime for myself. I have not fed my introvert. I end up spending a lot of time alone because I blow up for whatever the latest reason du jour is when at its heart I've come to believe my volatility comes from trying to share space while still needing a lot of "hermit time" and not taking of that need. I don't want to hurt or reject my partners; at the same time, I can't connect with anyone when I don't connect with myself.
So, yesterday I sent a long email about this weekend and needing to retreat but also made sure to recognize their needs to connect. And 'lo and behold, there was no breakdown, no meltdown, no fighting or arguing. There was support. There was love. There was consensus and agreement and compromise and understanding. I'm not the only one that needs some time to retreat right now; I may need it more frequently in longer gaps than others in my family; but apparently this weekend I'm not alone in my need to be alone.
That feels damn nice. And so this weekend we are all taking care of our own needs. I'll have the house entirely to myself for a few hours on Sunday as my partners go out on a lovely sounding date doing things that are of nearly no interest to me. Oh how I adore that part of polyamory. *winks*
Friday and Saturday I'll be retreating into my room. My plans are around quiet - maybe some ambient, quiet music - and very low visual stimuli if anything. Perhaps total darkness if I can arrange it. However, I will be pulling out my canvases and paints and my journals, colored pencils, and normal pencils and pens. I'll spend time reflecting using pure thinking, writing, and art with minimal light if I can manage it. Mostly I intend to look inside myself and reconnect with me. Some parts in here are a stranger to me now; and I need to find those. After all, if I'm not open to myself how can I be open to others? Without openness, how can we connect?
Hopefully this weekend will help me push through some of my own barriers and walls in the solitude that I have come, through a lifetime, to know and love so much.
... and it feels fucking amazing to be supported in this endeavor. To know that I'll have this large gap of time that is solely mine where I can get lost in my head and not worry about missing an opportunity for connection with someone other (though I often feel "other" to myself these days).
-Lisa, 2014-10-23, Comment