Until I had a child, I had no idea how much I needed solitude. I had always seen myself as social and needing the company of others. I had always sought people I believed were like me, thinking that I’d needed to be part of a group. Turns out, I was wrong and discovering the truth was an interesting revelation.
I wondered as a teenager why I’d walk into a room full of people and immediately get anxious or excited. I wondered why people with emotional need seemed to cling to me and why I felt like I had to help them. I wondered a lot. I got very, very depressed. In fact, it seemed I couldn’t get control of my emotions under any circumstances which included other people. I described it once as feeling as though I were trapped in a padded cell being chased by a swarm of bees. Worse yet is that I am always “on” when I’m with other people, like a satellite dish looking for a signal. It’s exhausting. It gives the appearance that I’m not paying attention to any one thing, when it reality, I’m paying attention to everything around me.
People complain that I stare at my phone too much when I’m with them. My husband, especially, wants me to put down whatever I’m doing with my hands and “pay attention” to him. Well, that’s my way of escaping the energy around me. If I focus my eyes on something, I can filter out a lot of other stuff. I need to look at one small thing to keep from looking at everything. If I’m looking at the person I’m talking to, and anything enters my peripheral vision, I lose track of what they’re saying. It sucks, but it’s my reality.
No one gets an owner’s manual for their brain. The brain is an amazingly complex computer and no two are the same. We each have to figure out how best to use it. It’s a tool that gets you through life. If you don’t spend time understanding your strengths and weaknesses, operating your brain is a much more difficult prospect. I think I was about forty when I genuinely understood exactly what maintenance mine needed to work at optimum levels. The most obvious was good nutrition. The least obvious was solitude. I had NO idea how much I needed time alone. Just a simple walk down the beach to collect shells restores my calm. A bath, especially if I’ve been at a gathering, will lower my anxiety within a few minutes.
I had always thought the idea of “empaths” was new-agey and a little ridiculous but recently I read a description that seemed as though it was written about my life. One of the “needs” of an empath is solitude. We have to get out of the fray. I have to do it at least once a day. If you’ve already figured that out for yourself, bravo. It took me a long time but now that I have, I’ve mastered it and I recommend it highly to you if you buzz every time you’re in a crowd. Enjoy your solitude, however you like to spend it.