February 19, 2011

Solitude and the unbearable weight of being

Right now I'm sitting on the passenger side of my car, in the parking lot of a park, with jazz on the radio (only because the classical station is playing opera which is too distracting). I forced myself to leave the house so I could get some solitude. I have a really serious craving for it on a regular basis, but I almost never make the time for it. I'm not sure why this is. Do I feel like I need to spend every free moment with my husband? Do I feel like I'm indulging in some extravagance or guilty pleasure for taking time away from people?

This week I've been doing a written exercise that requires me to allot every hour of every day to some sort of activity for the next two months. You know: 1 hour to get ready for work, 1 hour to commute (total), 8 hours work, 1 hour mealtime, 1 hour exercise, 1 hour reading... Somehow I need to fill up the 16 hours a day that I'm not sleeping.

I've done this exercise before. The last time it was only for one or two weeks, but the objective was the same: to figure out how I'm spending my time so I can make sure I'm making time for the things I need to do with my life, or something like that.

But two months?? I have so far resisted filling in more than one week. I looked at an example and thought, wow - that's a lot of stuff to pack into one day - then I started thinking that there was more time in my day than I thought there was, and was tempted to fill in all sorts of things.

Then I hit a wall. A wall of resistance, of the weight of my being.

I felt hemmed in by this exercise. I didn't want to structure myself so much, didn't want to feel guilty for having unplanned time, wanted to make sure I had plenty of downtime. I wanted to rebel against this exercise and skip it altogether. What am I supposed to learn here, anyway? That I'm lazy? That I should be doing more? That I'm not being all I can be?

Oh but then this week, I saw a pattern emerge. I have been resisting a lot of things - requests to spend time with people instantly makes me feel anxious instead of positive. If I have more than one social commitment during the week (even if it's yoga and therapy or guitar lessons), I feel crowded and exhausted. It seems I have been structuring my time to have long chasms of downtime. And what do I do in these unstructured hours? Oh, it varies. I try to do what I feel like doing that day: exercise, read, cook a real dinner, watch movies...

Oh, maybe this is another symptom of depression. I do feel more comfortable if I can plan things a couple weeks in advance rather than spur-of-the-moment (a characteristic that has never been part of my personality), so maybe I can start there. Fill in some big rocks in that two-month schedule. Just being aware of my state brings a sense of peace.