I am home alone. This is a rarity. If the whole family isn’t home, I’m usually either with my son or my sweetheart. Occasionally I get home from work first on a day that my son is with his father, so as I’m puttering around, unwinding from the day, I may have fifteen minutes to myself, but they are full. I come in, put my work things away, let the dog out, feed her, use the bathroom, check the mail, and *poof* the alone time is gone.
On the days my son isn’t with his dad, I’m his driver. We walk out together in the morning, and we walk back in together in the afternoon. When he’s gone for the weekend, my sweetheart and I spend a lot of time together. We like it that way. We run errands together, we go on dates together, we do projects around the house together, and we just generally enjoy each other’s company.
My family, however, understands that I’m a bit of an introvert, and that I need some time and space to myself.
I have a wonderful “studio” in our home where I can retreat for a bit. After a while one of them might wander in, and that’s fine. I’m not a hermit by any definition of the word. I love them both dearly, and enjoy spending time with them.
There’s a difference between being alone by choice and being alone by circumstance. I learned that lesson when I got divorced. I was okay with the idea of being divorced. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I understood it, and figured that in the long run it would be best for all involved. It has been. But what I didn’t understand, just couldn’t wrap my head around, was the idea that I should be forced to be 100% utterly alone as a result of circumstances that were beyond my control. I’m talking about my son’s time with his father, of course. My rational brain knew that they deserved to spend time together, and that my son needed his father in his life. It was the primal brain, however, that screamed out, “THIS IS UNFAIR!”
The weekends he was away were torture for me. It felt like the most horrible type of punishment I could imagine. I went from what I considered a normal family life, with a husband and a son, to a completely single entity for those ghastly weekends. How could I be a mother for x number of days a month, but not a mother for the rest? Oh sure, I was still his mother, but I couldn’t parent him. I tried not to think about it too much. I tried not to be critical of his father’s parenting (he’s not a bad father at all, in fact there are a lot of things that I think he does really well in terms of his relationship with our son). I tried to just separate myself from the whole situation when he wasn’t with me. I was always available for my son, but he didn’t need me when he was with his dad. It’s been several years now and to this day I rarely speak to him when he’s with his dad. It’s not that I’m not interested in what he’s doing, but I don’t want to infringe on their time together.
That first year or so of that utter and complete aloneness when he was gone forced me to make some decisions about how I wanted to handle myself. I could have spent those entire weekends in front of the tv, binging on movies and ice cream. I didn’t. I started to find things to do and people to connect with. It started to hurt less and I started to find peace in the alone time. Still, I didn’t like it. I loved having a family. I loved going on outings and sharing family dinners and playing in the pool together and watching movies and celebrating holidays and going on vacations and all of those things that families do. I was heartbroken that it all came to an end, both for myself and for my son. I felt like we were being robbed. Still, I had to make a decision to either wallow in it and make myself even more miserable, and take my son down with me, or deal with it. I’m a grown up. I dealt with it.
Time has passed, and there is a new man in my life, and family has a new definition. No, we’re not married, but the three of us are a family, just as my son’s father and his extended family are still part of our family. It’s not what I expected, but it seems to be working out okay for us.
Long story short, I enjoy those few hours alone at home when nobody is around, but I enjoy them because they’re not forced on me. I’m alone, but I’m far from lonely.