Monday, April 1, 2013

I Want to be Alone

Photo Credit: trubluboy

I am cranky today. I admit it. My husband is trying to be sociable, asking me questions to show he is interested in me and my day. I do not want to answer these questions. I want quiet. I want to read by myself, and write by myself. I want, in short, to be alone.

Christine Lavin wrote a funny song about this desire, and in the end decides being alone eventually becomes being lonely, so she thinks better of it. I will, too. But right now, a world without another person or animal craving my attention, affection, help, or action seems wonderfully attractive.

Why should this be so? The world, it seems, is made of introverts and extroverts. I've known this ever since I took the Myers-Briggs Personality Profile  in college. My results showed me right on the introvert/extrovert line, leaning slightly toward introversion. I usually don't notice how this affects my personality until I have a lot of time either alone or with others. This week, I've had to be "on" a lot in business. Seeing lots of people, many of them new faces, trying to remember all the relevant facts you need in business interactions--names, details, running your words through a filter to be as congenial as possible. 

It left me drained, even though I usually find working with people rewarding and energizing. So this week, I come home, craving the quiet I expect with my also-introverted husband. . .and he's been alone too much. He wants to talk. He wants to connect. He wants interaction. He tries to be funny. I struggle not to snap at him.

Is there a lesson, or an encouragement, to be pulled from this limited time of tension in the Green household? Here's what I've gleaned:
  • People need what they need. Trying to be happy and cheerful in the face of demanding (or even not-so-demanding) patients and spouses and friends will only have limited rewards. If it's downtime you need, make some downtime. If you can't take a day and a book and head to your bedroom, then take 15 minutes in the middle of the day and run away, or go for a walk. Take five minutes and hide in the bathroom, if that's the best you can do. Take some time to be alone. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Recharge. Repeat as necessary.
  • Realize it could just be you. When I was younger and people got on my nerves, I immediately assumed that the people were irritating, or intentionally pestering me. Now I realize that the attention I want to flee today is the same attention I usually crave. It is not fair to my husband, or the patients who have the right to expect a friendly demeanor, to blame them for my state. Situations like these are exactly the reason that self-care is so important. If you don't give yourself what you need, you aren't the only one who is miserable. Anyone within earshot--or in this day and age, within Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail contact--will be affected by your bad mood.
  • No one is perfect, and you can only expect so much. My crankiness reminds me that other people will not always be predictable and friendly, either. Whether illness leaves a friend feeling less than one hundred percent, or a serious stress distracts a server at a restaurant, we live among humans. Cutting each other some slack is part of our job as fellow beings. So smile and give the other person the benefit of the doubt.
Thankfully, Jim has found a book to read, and I am (almost) happily typing away, immersed in my own writing world. Tomorrow I will probably want to grouse about not going out, and not being around people for an outing. For tonight, I will get ready for bed, and curl up and sleep, or sit and stare at the ceiling and think, or find a book and read--any activity that only needs me. Being alone, or being allowed to not interact with the wonderful person who shares my life, will allow me to recharge my body and soul and be ready to embrace the world and my husband again very soon.

How can you tell that it's time for you to regroup and get centered? Please share in the comments!