Saturday, May 1, 2010

Solitude

I'm a pretty introverted person. I do like to be around people, especially one on one or in small groups. But I also need a lot of alone time. I've lived alone more of my life than not. It just seemed to work out that way. I went from college to several roommate situations in apartments, then living with the first serious relationship in my life for 6 years. But that was it. In 1975 I moved into an apartment by myself after we broke up and while I had numerous relationships and one that lasted nearly 12 years, I always lived by myself.

At first that was convenient, for my drinking was really taking off then and I needed the solitude to be able to consume as much as I wanted. Then I guess by the time I got sober 18 years later, I was just in the habit of it, of being alone a great deal and comfortable with my own company and finding it peaceful to only connect some of the time.

This has been on my mind today. I had dinner with my friend Isabelle last night. Her dad is in his last months of life, had a stroke, and is in the Vancouver Veterans Administration rehab. He's miserable there because he's got no solitude. He has a roommate, he has to eat with others in a big dining hall, and he can't be on his own schedule.

I don't think it ever really occurred to me that I might at some point have to give up my solitude. It's not that I was in denial about it but it just never occurred to me. And I think that would be very, very difficult for me. I could live with others but I would be miserable if I didn't have a room of my own where I could close myself off and be alone.

Like many in recovery, I vacillate between loneliness and needing solitude, in having to be a bit vigilant not to isolate too much, especially when the world feels overwhelming. My way is not to talk out those feelings but rather to ingest something to try to make them go away. Another behavior that I think has to change.

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