I’m not a complete loner. I like to have friends and family, especially the friends, which I never had many of until recently. I need to be alone, though. If I don’t get alone time on a regular basis, I become a very not-nice person.
Part of that is the strain of maintaining masks and meeting expectations for the people I am around. When people are around me, I am constantly thinking about how I look, what do other people think about my actions, am I behaving appropriately, etc. I don’t need to do this with Brian or my kids, but I do with pretty much everybody else in the world, even my parents to a certain extent. That creates a drain on my inner resources, and I need the down time of being alone in order to recover and reset. If I go to an event, I need to have a place that I can retreat to and be alone (which means I will never be sharing a room with a roomie at Con).
Another piece of the puzzle is a need for periods when I am not interrupted. Being interrupted in a task is very hard for me. I have a very hard time getting back to where I was when interrupted, and again, if it happens too much, I become a very not-nice person. This is where sometimes I can’t even be around my family, because no matter how nicely I ask or how hard they try, generally my kids can’t avoid interrupting me on a regular basis. Brian can do it, if I ask him to. When I need to be alone for this reason, sometimes a public place will do. I can go to a coffee shop or a park or someplace where people are around, as long as they are strangers and don’t want to talk to me. I’ll do this for studying.
A third reason I need to be alone sometimes is just interaction. Any interaction. Sometimes, I need to go into my own little world and not be touched, not be spoken to, not have anything expected of me. I might respond to text messages and similar non-verbal, non-corporeal communication, but that’s it. I can get to this level after a long day, after a day of travel or of being with the kids away from home for a long period of time. Sometimes a few hours of being at Foster will trigger it, or even being in ritual space for a while, with the constant noise and people and needing to watch Kender and talk to everybody and pay attention, and again I become a very not-nice person until I get my alone time.
I need each of these, to some degree, every day to stay at my best.
I have gotten the impression over the years that this need to be alone, to not communicate for extended periods, is abnormal, and that people are offended when I need to go away. This makes me feel like seeking alone time is not appropriate, and I feel bad about it. Perhaps I just need to be more up-front about my needs and my reasons, and not worry about what people think. I also need to be aware of the need and plan better for it, plan my escapes and my necessary alone periods when I know I’m going to be around people a lot, so that I can recover and regroup before I become that very not-nice person.