This weekend, I am fortunate to spend time with my sister in her home. Today, we will take a day trip to explore some of her favorite nearby areas where she and her family enjoy relaxation time. I look forward to the opportunity for that significant chunk of time in her presence and to see the places that are special to her. It is a wonderful gift to spend time with people who know and accept you, with whom you feel comfortable. In my current life, this is rare.
I am in a prolonged transition between the last stage of my life and the next. This is not to imply that I am in some sort of suspended animation; in fact, every day brings new insights and new experiences. But a major life change for a person such as me that does not have a partner can be a lonely time. The old social network doesn’t fit so well anymore, and I haven’t found the new one quite yet, though I am beginning to make new contacts.
Approaching new people is always stressful. I never realized how socially awkward I am, how anxiety-stricken I become when meeting new people and being in new situations. When observing myself now, I see it clearly, but often not before saying or doing something that is perceived as odd by others. I realize now that I have used mastery of tasks and efficiency as a cover for my discomfort – if I can just get this right, people will be pleased and not notice how tongue-tied I am and how out of place I feel. This explains why I once had such an affinity for alcohol which reliably removed the awkwardness, or at least my concern about it. I’m sure I did and said plenty of things while drinking that raised other people’s eyebrows, but I was oblivious.
All these years later, being stone cold sober and more tuned into myself and others, I find that I need a great deal of time alone. I have become completely comfortable with myself, a big change from the insecurity and self-loathing I lived with in years past. Where I once viewed being alone as an indictment of my character (e.g. “I am not lovable enough for people to want to be with me”), I now view my time alone as my time to love myself and show myself kindness. Time alone is also when I do my best work and am most creative, when I can get lost in the process of whatever I am doing. But too much of a good thing can nonetheless be problematic. I need connection.
This weekend is indeed special and I cherish being here. I am anxious for my sister to wake up so we can begin the fun for the day. My tank has already been filled by the time I’ve had with her, despite distractions, but I look forward to more before we part again. Precious moments of bonding are all that is needed to restore me. I hope in some small way, in whatever way she needs it, my presence is also restorative for her.