This weekend was a bit of a sabbatical for me. The first of what I called “A Vacation from Humanity.”
Sometimes I forget that I need time, maybe a lot of time, to myself, enjoying some degree of seclusion. You see, I don’t find the company of others to be particulary relaxing. Being with others, even those I love, sometimes makes me feel simultaneously stretched and compressed. The more socially active I am, the more acute this feeling becomes. It is hard to describe the tension I feel, for I don’t feel anxious, or angry, or jittery—just tired, drained, overstimulated, and confined. There comes a need to get away, to flee, to escape. To relax. Perhaps it can be described as a social claustrophobia, even though I don’t get panic?
In any case, for several weeks now, maybe months, since my ex and I split, I have been almost constantly social. I consider even a solitary shopping trip to be social, being surrounded by people. In miniscule, inperceptible ways, interacting with them; being aware of their space and behavior and moods, and adjusting mine accordingly. Regardless of whether we meet, converse, or even make eye contact, it is a form of interaction. Then, of course, theres dealing with sales persons and clerks: “HellocanIhelpyoudidyoufindeverythingok *beep*beep*beep* thatwillbethirtythreefourtysixpleasethankyouhaveanicedaynext.” Even this adds to the constriction I feel.
But despite this claustrophobia, I do need a few friends, and I do feel an obligation to maintain those social bonds. Since my split with my ex, I’ve been trying to see them more often, to make new friends, and form new networks. Despite my need for solitude, I fear being alone. If I refuse the company of others too much, then I will have no friends–and no lover–again. Thus came an inablitiy to say no and carve out a space for myself.
I’ve been on a few dates, that in hindsight I was nowhere near ready for. I’ve gone to several deaf-oriented “happy hours” in area clubs, jam packed with people, loud music, and non-stop conversation. I’ve gone on countless shopping exersions, and lunches, dinners, hang-outs, with old and new friends. I’ve also been online 24/7, available to everyone for a chat.
Last week, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was thankful, very relieved and happy, when plans with a friend fell through. And I knew then that what I needed and wanted was to be alone–deeply and truly alone. And so, I kicked guilt aside and said “NO” to four invitations: a trip into the City, a luncheon, an IKEA fest, and a wine-tasting. I would liked to have done any of those things at any other time, but now was not that time.
Instead, I stayed home. I did my necessary grocery shopping during the week, so I could stay home. I ate fresh produce and home-cooked meals, instead of fast food. I slept. I watched some t.v. I remembered that I had ceiling fans and turned them on. I sat under the fans, and enjoyed the breeze. I played Diablo II on my computer. I went out once; to do my laundry (early Saturday morning is a better time for the laundromat than late Sunday morning) and to get a bag of cat litter.
I felt more content and more relaxed than I have felt in a long time.
Now I am back at work, surrounded by my co-workers. I feel significantly less claustrophobic, but yet, I could use another day in my cave.
I now know I need to make this “vacation from humanity” a more regular part of my routine. Perhaps once or twice a month. I shan’t overbook myself again.