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Leave Me Alone*

December 11, 2009

*That, of course, does not apply to you, Dear Reader.

I understand that humans are social animals. Me, not so much. Well, not most of the time.  At least not in real life.  I spent a lot of time as a child alone. I was a latchkey kid from as far back as I can remember. I didn’t have any neighborhood kids to play with and I would play boardgames and have tea parties with myself. I don’t think I enjoyed spending so much time at home by myself as a child, but as I grew older, I really got to like it.

I was so used to privacy that having a roommate in college was a bit of a shock for me. I loved my roommate, Becky, but I also looked forward to the times when I knew I’d have the room to myself (of course my friends down the hall would tell you I was always in their room constantly bothering them while they tried to study). After 3 years of roommates I finally had my first place all to myself. Aside from a 3 year stint living with a boyfriend, I lived alone for the next 10 years. I really, really liked living alone. Probably too much.

When I bought my first place, my then boyfriend (now husband) moved in with me straightaway. Living with someone again, after so many years entrenched in my solitary ways, was a challenge for us both. I will admit that I was quite the little tyrant that first year hubby and I lived together. Everything had to be my way, because my way was the right way and because that’s how I had been doing things on my own for so long. Part of my frustration was the lack of privacy.  I wasn’t used to spending so much time in the company of another, with precious little time to myself. Both of us soon recognized that we needed some time in the house to ourselves. We call this “private time.”

Private time is when one of us is alone in the house, for a little as 20 minutes (alone with the dog. Bonus private time is if the dog is gone too). My husband was a little slow in the beginning to understand my need for private time. Being raised in a two parent house with two younger siblings, I think he was more accustomed to having people around all the time. Hubby initially felt that my need for privacy was a form of rejection of him. He soon came to understand that my daily dose of private time was crucial to my emotional health – and to a harmonious relationship with him. He also soon realized that he too needed time to himself, albeit in much lower amounts. Hubby has become great about taking the dog for a walk when we get home from work so that I can have a few minutes to myself. As he walks out the door, he says, “Enjoy your private time!”  I really benefit from having some privacy to decompress after a stressful day. Although hubby is often at home during the day working while I am at the office, this is not considered true private time. Even though he is alone, private time to him means that he is relaxing. He often scolds me when I tell him that he had private time all day while I was at work: “I was working too,” he chastises (I can’t understand why working from home doesn’t include nap time and Lifetime movie marathons for him. It certainly would for me). Because he and I are so often home at the same time, private time for him sometimes mean I just have to leave him alone in a different room.

I know people that always have to be in the company of others. That’s not me. I am fine eating a meal by myself, traveling solo, going to a movie all alone.  At times I prefer it.  Sometimes my desire to be alone can tread treachorously close to isolation. Then the need to interact with humanity kicks in and I reach out to real life people (AKA Twitter).

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 1chicklette permalink
    December 17, 2009 2:04 am

    How great are you for sharing your honest feelings? I think it’s completely normal for you to feel burned out and it’s wonderful that your colleague had constructive ideas for you to try.

    I also feel burned out in my career (albeit for very different reasons) and am striving to find a way to get back to where I loved my career, or at least to feel better about it until I can make a change.

    • mjjaaska permalink*
      December 17, 2009 4:36 am

      Thank you, Chickie! You are right: it really is all about attitude. Either you decide to be ok with your choices and circumstances, or you change them. Here’s to both of us getting un-burned out!
      P.S. Pay attention to where you post your comments! ;-)

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