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Friday, February 7, 2014

Solitude


My solitude has always been of primordial importance to me. Even when I was a little girl, I needed my "alone time". I noticed that when I spent too much time with others without having some space, some time for myself, I would get antsy, stressed, nervous, as though I needed to be alone to recharge my batteries.

Thank God (and my parents) that I had a bedroom for myself and did not have to share.

As I grew older, left home, and eventually got married, I recognized that the tendency, much as I was in love, continued. I needed - no - I craved alone time. I craved solitude on a regular basis, and if I did not get it, or if I had to live in more crowded circumstances sometimes on holidays with the extended family, I immediately noticed that I was missing it.

Sometimes I thought I was a hermit, a loner, but then I would remember how sociable I am, how much I enjoy people, but what became more and more clear to me as time went by, was that I most definitely have a greater need for solitude than many of the people I know.

I began to recognize that what I had erstwhile defined as a recharging of batteries, was, in fact, a need for communion with the innermost self, with my soul, on some level that - even when I had not yet come to define it as such - was not only necessary for my well-being, but was an absolutely vital requisite for my being. Honoring this became important, and I began to understand that much as a plant needs sunshine and water, I needed this solitude in order to thrive.

In the relationships of my life this has continued to hold true, and I have had many a difficult moment in which this needed to be explained on terms that were non-threatening to the other. My solitude is not a lack of love for the other, or a lack of desire to spend time with the other, but a need to nourish the self despite the other. It is something that endures, and that needs to be honored, even when I am in relationship. It came before and it will continue to be after.

And so, as I came across these words from the great Rainer Maria Rilke today, I resonated with them ... he wrote: I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people, that each protects the solitude of the other.

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