What does healthy alone time or healthy me-time look like to you?
These are probably questions that resonate more with those who find themselves in that stage in life where they share their lives with a partner. Of course, that is not to say that everyone else has an abundance of alone time. After all, myriad things are constantly demanding a piece of our time. Yet, lately, after more than two years of being in a beautiful, fulfilling relationship, I have found myself pondering what healthy me-time looks like?
I’m going to be honest with you right out the bat. I don’t really know.
I know that might seem perplexing to you since, well, alone time is just being with yourself. But the truth is I am terrible, absolutely dismal at having a healthy relationship with myself when I am alone.
This situation did not come to be because of my relationship, far from it. I have been having a very toxic relationship with loneliness and solitude since probably my early teens. And I was fortunate to have a big, close family to be around during the early times.
To Find Myself in Solitude
Of course, that didn’t last long. When I eventually moved to Japan, essentially moving as far as humanly possible from any connections I had, I was devoid of any coping mechanism for the first time. Or at least, any healthy ones.
Funnily enough, at that time, I was actually desperate to get away and find myself. But, unfortunately, I didn’t know what that meant or what I was about to encounter.
I was certainly not ready to handle it either.
Facing the isolation of being inserted in a foreign culture with no support system or reliable means of communication and lacking coping mechanisms, I was forced to sit with my thoughts and live with myself.
Boy, was I not ready.
Hostage to Phantoms
My mind was hostage to echoes of voices that I had internalized for decades. My stream of consciousness felt like I was constantly in a shouting contest with my worst enemies and nastiest instincts. I struggled to progress on simple tasks without losing myself in a rabbit hole of negativity triggered by obsessive-compulsive thought patterns. It was an absolute shitshow, and it still is.
This is, of course, a widespread situation in our generation. Kids who have suffered trauma or have been exposed to too much too early have exacerbated OCD. In addition, poor parenting and hostile growing environments foster negative thought patterns and mindsets in people. We are, after all, wired to learn and internalize what we are exposed to survive.
Whether that serves us all our lives or not, that’s another matter. But that is a topic I prefer to save for another time. I don’t want to stir away from the subject.
The point is, we need to learn how to be with ourselves and have a civil relationship within us. We can’t escape forever with distractions, vices, or company. Eventually, the damage will catch up with us, and we will end up harming ourselves and others.
Healthy Alone Time
Alone time is necessary for our brains to be healthy. Beyond the obvious benefits of “peace and quiet,” solitude in small doses can boost your productivity, creativity, and empathy. Moreover, it can finally help you work things out with your inner self and have a healthy relationship with yourself.
This is no easy task. I am still struggling with it after six years of facing my inner demons. But today, I can say that I have fewer enemies than allies in my inner quorum.
Today I am able to enjoy sitting with myself and ponder my thoughts. I can visit the past in my mind and, for the most part, avoid attaching any judgment or emotion to my mistakes. I can breathe the revitalizing air of solitude without suffocating on the toxic spew from the cruel judges of my youth.
Nevertheless, I feel like I am still in the middle of a journey to find the true expression of myself. That version of me accepts me as I am and strives to live with integrity. And finally, make amends and build the relationship that I wish everybody had with themselves.
The end is still far away, but I am happy that I am on the journey.
Stay safe; Stay Well.
We love you.