The Art of Being Alone

I’ve never been very good at being alone. The thought of spending an afternoon to myself sounds more like a punishment than a gift. So it was too easy to let myself get lost in motherhood and forget to take time for just me.

When my therapist suggested that I start by taking just 10 minutes a day to do something for myself, it was surprising to me just how difficult I found this simple task. I kept making excuses as to why I didn’t take the 10 minutes today. The kids had activities, I had to get groceries…empty excuses. I’m not one of those women that can blame it on her husband. John is very present with our kids, and it would’ve been easy to take the time away. So why was I dragging my feet? Literally deciding to clean out a closet or creating more tasks for my day rather than sitting down to read a book by myself for 10 minutes.

I’m not afraid of being alone. But when I am faced with a situation where I can have time to myself, there is an anxiety that grips me. Somewhere in the process of raising our 3 children, meal planning, play-date setting, house cleaning and business running, I have reached a point where I don’t even recognize the woman that looks back at me in the mirror every morning. She looks tired, overweight and disheveled. Nothing like that spunky 23 year old I was before having children. I am a stranger to myself. My 40th birthday looming ahead of me this year, I am reminded of how much I have changed. I think I avoid being alone and having to get to know myself again because what happens if I don’t like this newer version of myself?

A few weeks ago, the best thing happened to me. I got sick (Yes, I am aware how strange that sounds!). A bad cold that left me curled up in bed while John managed the kids, meals, after school activities and bedtime. I laid in bed all day reading a book that had been collecting dust on my bedside table. And it was wonderful! I gobbled up that book in just a few short days and couldn’t wait to start the next one. I now find myself seeking out periods of time in the day to curl up with my book, or play a video game, or just do something that’s absolutely for ME. And it feels so good. My mom used to always tell me that it’s important to make sure you are keeping your cup full or you can’t fill anyone else’s. It’s sad that it took sickness to put me in my place. To force me to sit still with myself. I still have a long way to go, but I’m starting to get more comfortable and feeling less anxious about finding the new Amanda.