Alone Time: 1 Lesson from This Week

1 Lesson from This Week Time Alone

I’ve had ample time alone this week. An introverted mom’s dream.

We recently closed on our house – that’s a long story for another time – and I woke from the dream that we were going to get the keys and move right in! Having made our offer on the house back in April, I had forgotten a lot of the significant details about the condition of the house.

I felt like the first week of homeownership was one huge setback after another.

So I’ve had lots of time to get acquainted with the house through working on fixing it up – lots of alone time.

And shouldn’t this time just thrill me and meet my longing for alone time? Don’t I regularly think if I could just have more time alone, then I could feel better.

There’s a strange tension in the heart of an introverted mother that goes something like: I love my children and I want to be the one to be with them and meet their needs, but I also am a woman and I want to be without them so that my own needs are met.

Needs like: completing a thought, maintaining privacy while getting ready for the day, listening to music or audiobooks that fill me, sitting to sip tea and rest, and planning our activities for the next season so that we aren’t bouncing from one event to the next.

It takes so much effort to meet these needs that when there isn’t enough alone time for the introverted mom – it can feel like it’s simply impossible to do anything but just survive.

So while I should have been filled with glee to be able to have so much time to myself – albeit in order to paint – I actually felt torn.

Leaving my kids, while I didn’t question their care (thanks mom!), made me feel a sincere conviction that it is for my good that I be with my kids.

Feeling torn between 2 important things – the care of my kids and the preparation of our new home – caused me to feel confirmed that the best way for me to meet my need for introverted time and live out my purpose is to spend the first few hours of the day well.

Feeling torn also confronted the lie I had been listening to: If I could just have more time alone to do…then I would feel more satisfied with my life.

I didn’t realize this was a lie until I got all that time alone. When I had what I wanted, I realized it wasn’t truly satisfying after all.

A satisfying life to me is when I am growing in discipline and making baby-step progress toward my goals. Just having time alone doesn’t magically accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself. Wanting time alone, although it allows my mind and heart to breathe, was becoming a stumbling block for me.

I just need more time. More time. More. Time.

I was idolizing and wishing for a fantasy. That’s always the outcome when I let lies into my mind.

What I truly needed, I already had. 24 hours every day. Each new day is a fresh start to learn and grow into the roles I have.

The truth underneath the lie that I just need more time was that I do need more discipline. Lacking direction and affirmation had made a weak spot in my resolve to live my life on purpose, with purpose. Embracing the truth that I have all the hours in each day to do what is right has fueled my soul more than all the extra alone time.

Driving away from my children felt like leaving my heart behind, and that’s when I knew that I had the answer to the question my soul wrestled with in February. What if my kids would be better off somewhere else with someone else? What if I’m supposed to commit myself to full-time writing? The empty place in my heart last February was not filled when I had more time alone – because time in and of itself is not the answer.

Feeling torn was my answer. The lie confronted was the correction. Stepping back into my responsibilities with confidence and conviction was the lesson that I learned this week.

Sometimes getting what I want shows me that it isn’t what I needed after all.

The Make Over Your Mornings course has been a game changer for me. And at the risk of being annoying - like a broken record - if you still haven't checked it out, humor me. Click here to take a look for yourself.

 

My Loneliness Story (Self-Destructing and Frustrated) :: Warning Signs of Loneliness in Kids, Part 6

No one would want to play with me anyway. I don’t have any friends. No one likes me, I’m dumb.

Or:

Why do you always… why can’t I ever… you never let me…

And it may be that both have been said by the same child. I know I said both.

People mean well when they want to help or fix these bad feelings. But it isn’t as easy as choosing not to be grumpy by putting on a smile. When the root of the matter isn’t being addressed the bad feelings grow and it becomes a habit. The struggling child expresses self-pity or disrespect consistently.

It is heartbreaking when adults ignore these signs because they label the child as “pitying themselves” or “rebelling against authority.” While both of those labels may be true and trained through with the child –it is feedback behavior.

Again, heavily focusing on these words and the feelings behind them are not going to produce the desired result. The words or the attitude isn’t the primary issue. The root of the issue isn’t that the child needs better self-esteem or deeper submission. Spending energy trying to train a child to put on a better attitude or to quiet their expressions will not stick. It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a wound that needs stitches.

The pain from loneliness has been internalized and the child believes that they are wrong or broken for having needs that are going unmet. It causes a reaction of distrust and resentment toward parents for not knowing or helping the child.

In young children, this can also create a sense of panic or fear.

Fear and pain have a way of motivating us. I was a little powerhouse of words, attitudes, and emotions growing up. I would speak up to anyone: anytime, anywhere. Collecting labels that only grew more burdensome as I grew older. As my feedback behavior was being disciplined, punished, quieted – the pain grew and my fight with it. I tried every wrong way to force others to notice me and meet my needs for support and companionship, but very few adults could tolerate me.

This was true for me: hurt people, hurt people. And anyone close to me was hurt by me.

If only I could go back to my teen years and take back the awful things I said to my parents. The ongoing frustration I felt toward them was simply caused by misunderstandings and lack of communication. We addressed the surface issues, labeling actions and emotions as character flaws. But on my own, I didn’t have the tools to change my character – who I was becoming felt like a freight train that had lost its brakes.

Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, I became who we all feared I would become. The labels and the troubles crushed me.

It took me years to unravel the pain and fear. After the social stages of schooling, I was on my own and alone, and that’s when I began to understand how loneliness had been at the root of so much of my destructive behavior.

And after more than a decade of healing I am able to share and learn from this painful part of myself.

My Loneliness Story

Learning to work through pain and to help others is the motive behind writing this series. The amount of compassion I have for kids who are hurting is beyond my physical reach. That’s why I’m writing. If you’re reading this, anything you can gain from these observations can be used to heal and help provide support and companionship.

Also, lest I close the series leading anyone to believe I no longer struggle with loneliness allow me to reveal how I recognize red flags as an adult: I act is some counter intuitive ways. I put on personalities that aren’t mine, and they don’t fit. And it looks like one or more of these:

  • Suddenly becoming bubbly and outgoing, with a strong desire to be the life of the party
  • Spending money impulsively and a ravenous desire to have something I’ve been saying “no” to for a long time
  • Gradually becoming isolated: ignoring phone calls from close friends and family because I just don’t feel like being with anyone
  • Feeling panicky when I don’t know where my phone is – checking social media compulsively
  • Mismanaging time and emotions – becoming angry and frustrated with myself for an overall lack of discipline
  • Speaking negatively about myself to others and rejecting encouragement

Why is there an ongoing struggle with loneliness? Because it’s hard to ask for support when I feel unsupported. It looks weak, it feels vulnerable, and it requires reflection and work to resolve. Often, I don’t know where to start, I’m overwhelmed. Guilt lies to me.

Moving forward, I look at my core needs and work up from there: security, identity, and then belonging. And like Dr. Kathy Koch taught me: Belonging is “who wants me” not “who needs me.” Belonging is a need, and healthy relationships are possible.

If you’ve missed any of the other posts in this series, you can check out the titles here.

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