Easing myself down on to the soft, sun kissed sand, my bold gold and white stripy beach towel splayed out beneath me, I let out a long, audible sigh of relief. Here, stretched between two glorious pandanus trees – which both offered protection from the surprisingly biting Autumn sunshine and the conversely brisk sea breeze – I could feel the tentacles of irritation and desperation that had been needling at me for the past week finally melting away.
I had found the picture perfect spot to replenish my empty well.
You see, I am one of those people who need to be alone like others need to drink coffee – like we all need oxygen. Except that such silken slices of opportunity don’t present themselves all that often. There’s always a small child, chore or errand to attend to, or social activity to partake in. Yes, that’s life, I know. But, as I have started to discover, if I don’t get a sliver of some gloriously responsibility free, conversation free time I start to morph into someone I very much don’t like – someone whose personal “cup” have runneth bone dry.
I get irritable, as if I have a scratch I can’t itch and my poor beautiful family bear the brunt of it. I quite literally start to feel like I cannot breathe, as if I am suffocating beneath the weight of my world. Eventually it becomes as necessary to my survival as breathing. That’s when I need to find a way to step away from the real world for a moment and cocoon myself in my own company. That’s when I know I need to start to refill my well.
Of course, it’s not always easy, I know this well. After Zara was born, which coincided with The Husband’s 7-days-a-week-for-7-months work schedule, it was nigh on impossible, which was why I think I struggled so much. There was never much of an opportunity to properly exhale.
But, one of the beautiful benefits of this big move we made late last year is that there is more of that elusive quantity called time that is on our side. Now I can scour our busy schedule, seek out a gap and make myself a much needed booking for one doing something – anything – just purely for me.
Some may call it anti-social, some may call it plain rude or even odd but what I have come to understand is this is essential to my mental wellbeing. No need for conversations, no need to engage or please, no need to do anything but be one with myself. Of course, I imagine it’s something many people, particularly extroverts may struggle to identify with, but for those of us who live with these more introverted traits (as well as a child who literally talks from sun up to sun down), forgive us please if we choose sometimes to embrace solitude and silence. It’s a soothing balm for our sometimes social-weary souls.
Thankfully, I have a brilliantly supportive husband who understands his wife’s quirky needs well and happily accommodates me when I begin to limp towards empty. And while I initially fought against the very concept of doing something so purely, selfishly just for me, thinking I was absconding from my parental responsibilities by even contemplating it, he encourages me. He seems to know better than I that when my personal well is so parched, I’m just simply not able to give as I should. So in order to be able to be everything to everyone once more, I now allow myself the gift of guilt free time to be nothing to no-one. And suddenly my well doth overflow once more.