Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away. —Barbara de Angelis
Each day begins early for me. Once I'm up, I spend time with my oldest as he gets ready for work. I've found our relationship is at its sweetest first thing every morning when the day is new and we're both feeling refreshed from a good night's sleep.
I then spend time with my youngest as he gets ready and off to school. He is 16 and full of teenage angst, so making that relationship sweet requires effort. That effort can be tiring, but it is always rewarded with a hug and an "I love you mom" before he leaves the house.
I then spend time with myself. I have my isolation corner in which a favorite book, a writing journal, my watercolor pencils, pad, and my flavor-of-the-week candle surround me. I let go of any longing for human interaction and I connect with my inner self.
Doing so enables me to reflect on the day ahead. For me that time alone every morning is essential if I'm going live the day ahead with purpose. It is a time of contemplation for me; it has become as important as the food I eat and the oxygen I breathe.
When I tell other women about my hour of self-imposed isolation, they seem to become anxious. Some feel that the desire to be alone, without the company of others, is unnatural and maybe even too self-indulgent. I've had women tell me they could never choose to take an hour of isolation because they have too many responsibilities. They need to fill that hour up taking care of other things or other people rather than taking care of themselves.
They all have people they love and, in my opinion, ridiculous expectations about what they have to do to take care of them. They're too busy taking care of the needs of others to take an hour out of their day to see to their own needs. What they don't understand is if they aren't connected with themselves and fulfilling their own needs, no amount of love is going to provide the comfort they seek by rushing around trying to get everything done.
I encourage every woman to explore the virtues of solitude. Start with a few minutes a day, whatever amount of time you find manageable, and carve out some time for yourself. You will find that...
- You enjoy the sense of freedom solitude offers.
- You are more creative when free from distractions.
- It is easier to visualize solutions to problems when your mind is completely disengaged from all other responsibilities.
- You enjoy the silence and the sound of your own thoughts.
- You will get to know yourself on a deeper level and become more aware of what you truly want out of life.
- You develop a deeper sense of autonomy. You learn how much fortitude you have and how able you are to meet your own needs.
For me, that hour of solitude every morning is fuel for my life. I am more sensitive to my thoughts and feelings, and that is the real message of solitude—that through self-awareness, our lives can flourish.
Cathy heads up About.com's Divorce Support channel.
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