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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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4 comments

  • Comment Link Guest Monday, 23 July 2012 21:01 posted by Guest

    Divorce tomorrow: I have done all I can and I've not been able to stop this divorce. I loved my husbands so deeply for 23 years and I was so secure in his love for me. Then......the day came... I love you but I'm not in love with you anymore. I have been reeling ever since. That day the man I knew changed. He looked at me with dead eyes. I'm still grieving but I MUST find a way to move past this. It has been a 2 year separation. He wants this. So.....I'm trying right now..this evening...to do something that I can focus on...and take with me all day tomorrow so I don't drown in my own grief. I have to face that I cannot control this. It's a difficult thing. My faith in God is strong...but I must admit that I don't understand why he allowed this. I just have to face it. Reading post from others who have gone through this has been so helpful. Thanks.

  • Comment Link Guest Monday, 16 July 2012 21:07 posted by Guest

    Solitude for me is healing: I can identify with you and after 34 years am now in my second year of legal separation. The Lord has been my rock and has given me strength and wisdom beyond words. I have learned to live one day at a time and donot take it for granted. Keep your faith strong and he will always give you what you need even if it isn't always what you want - for all of us.

  • Comment Link Guest Monday, 16 July 2012 11:24 posted by Guest

    Finally, a familiar voice..: I have recently finalized a divorce i initiated (due to abuse) after two years of considering reconciliation off and on. I have a deep, urgent need for solitude, after staying home for 24 years, raising 5 kids, homeschooling 17 of those years...my husband thinks i am abnormal for wanting to be alone. I enjoy time with my 2 "non-adults", 17 & 14, but I am very different since he moved out 9 months ago. I found that I never took time for myself, and as a result, I entered single life not know who this person was...i have found that it is absolutely essential for me to have this "alone time", or i cannot function as a person, much less as a mom.

    Thank you for writing this - i've watched too many women burn out from self-neglect...society (especially our men) think this is strange...but it is a necessity!!

  • Comment Link Guest Monday, 16 July 2012 11:09 posted by Guest

    I thank you for reminding us: I thank you for reminding us that as women we do need solitude. After 30 years of marriage, and four years prior to marriage of dating my high school sweetheart, solitude was something I certainly wasn't used to. During the 30 years of marriage I had raised two children, been the bookkeeper for a myriad of businesses my husband had and had been the caretaker of my father after my mother's sudden death. I always thought there would be time for "us" when Dad was gone and the girls were through college and on their own. However, what we want and what we get don't always coincide. I was left with no money, no home, no car and no idea how I would live. My testimony is different from many, though. I have a personal relationship with my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my Rock and my Fortress. Without Him, I would have ended my life. I have never known such deep pain as I have experienced through my divorce, such utter abandonment from the one person who promised to love me til "death us do part". I am a year into my singleness and although I miss my ex husband terribly, I have been blessed by other people that God has brought into my life. I work two jobs and also run a tax preparation service from my home. Through my second job, God has shown me that there are many women out there just like me, just doing the best they can with what they have. My second job has opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed when I was wrapped in the cocoon of my secure safe existence within my marriage.