The guilt that goes with silence

Twenty one month ago, we moved into our house. Patrick was 6 days old by the time we moved in. He was everything a newborn should be – tired, hungry, sleepy and demanding. Twenty one months later, I still have boxes that are unopened. Things here are busy. They’re overwhelming at times. They’re loud. It’s life.

It occurred to me the other day that in those 21 months, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been in our house alone. I mean, alone alone. Not “alone” while people nap. Not “alone” while people are outside. But alone. By myself. Just me.

I’ve been feeling lost lately. Not really sure who I am or where I’m going. I haven’t felt like I have much of an identity. Sure I’m a woman and a mom and a wife and a friend and all of that but without time WITH myself, I’ve been neglecting the most important person in my life. Me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do stuff by myself. I go to the grocery store. I go to the gym. I go for a run. I occasionally get my nails done. But I feel like all of that comes with a price. Guilt. I know that it’s all in my head. The guilt. This inane need to feel like I have to ask permission to do things. I can’t just go and do. “Is it OK if I go for a mani and a pedi?” or “Is it OK if I run to the store?” It’s stupid but that’s the way I feel and then I go and I feel guilty, which is even dumber. And then I go do whatever it is that I need/want to get done and while I’m doing it, I feel guilty. I feel guilty that Paul is at home with the kids. I feel guilty that I’m not at home with the kids. I feel guilty that here I am, a mom who wanted to have kids, and I want, no need, to get away.

And so this weekend I found myself with the unique opportunity to stay home alone. Really alone. No kids. No Paul. Just me and the dog for 32 entire hours. And I jumped all over it. I told myself that I would refuse to feel guilty for not going with them. I would refuse to feel guilty for spending time alone. And I would refuse to spend the time cleaning. And I did. Or I didn’t. I didn’t feel guilty. I enjoyed the silence. I enjoyed not preparing meals. I enjoyed not changing diapers. I enjoyed not cleaning up spilled milk or wiping butts. I did, I enjoyed it all. I spent time doing things that I wanted to do, when I wanted to do them. I went to the movies, I got my nails done, I went to Target, had lunch with friends, read a book and I didn’t feel guilty at all for enjoying myself.

There are no words to describe how much I needed that. How much I needed to spend time alone. To rediscover me. To do things without the guilt, without the need to ask permission. Maybe when school starts in a month, I’ll feel a little better. A little less lost even though my alone time will still only be 4 hours a week, it’s better than the 0 hours I have now. Of course I feel guilty about the need for alone time and then I feel guilty for feeling guilty. I don’t know how to alleviate that guilt but I need to work on it. Hopefully over time, things will get easier but until then, I’ll savor what I can get and get it where I can.

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