For better or for worse, I don’t have a ton of super strong connections with other people in my life. I keep in touch with my mom and have friends that I enjoy hanging out with, but if I had the choice, I’d spend most of my time either by myself or with my fiance.
A good trait that I’ve learned from this mindset is that I no longer rely on other people for my own happiness. There are a lot of instances in my life where I’ve expected people to do or say one thing, and they went around and did the opposite, and I was left to wallow in my disappointment. It took a lot of time to realize that other people are really free to do whatever they want and have no obligation to do what I, specifically, want them to do. When I internalized that, I found myself free to live my own life and create my own happiness, and I would love to pass that lesson of independence on to the other people in my life.
On the other hand, a bad trait that I’ve learned from this mindset is that I don’t rely on anyone for… anything. And I feel like it’s made my relationships pretty shallow and forces me to internalize a lot of my thoughts and feelings. While I’m off “creating my own happiness,” it often feels like the people around me are creating their happiness together. I often struggle with the concept that “my happiness” and “other people’s happiness” don’t always have to be at odds. I’d want those around me to know that there is a balance to strike between independence and building community. I’m still learning how to do this!
Finally, I wrote all of the above before realizing the biggest thing that I want the people around me to learn: the importance of communication! I currently work in customer service, where my “style” is to keep everyone updated on as many details as possible at all times to reduce confusion and, often, foster confidence. I try to bring this mentality into my personal life as well, but it doesn’t always work out! Making plans is still difficult! I’m trying!!!
Bryan left for a boys’ weekend earlier today and won’t be coming back until Sunday night. Though, over the past year, he’s left for nearly the entire day, we haven’t been completely apart for an entire weekend in… over a year.
On one hand, I’m excited for the alone time. On the other hand, I love having a full day of alone time… that ends with him coming back home. I can’t remember that last time that I slept alone in my own bed! (Is this what codependence looks like???)
In the spirit of independence, I’m trying to find ways to enjoy my alone time! If I don’t have a plan, I often default to mindlessly scrolling on my computer or on my phone, so I happen to have a to-do list of things-I-want-to-do-that-don’t-always-require-Bryan up in my brain already:
Cleaning! Chores like putting away clutter, washing the dishes, and wiping up spills sound like a boring way to spend my free time, but having things clean is very! satisfying!
Hot pot! I’ve written about it before, and we’re doing it a lot less often these days, but I’ve definitely found comfort in every part of the very predictable yet very tasty hot pot routine – buying the ingredients, one person prepping the food, the other person prepping the hot pot, the aroma of the steamy broth, I could go on! Though I love trying new dishes, it is nice once in a while to know exactly what we’re going to eat (and getting to look forward to it all day!).
Taking baths! Granted, these were a lot better in Japan (see: rooftop onsen), but I am glad that I’ve grown to appreciate a good bath and can enjoy one every once in a while. I was scared of them for a long time because of my sensitive skin, but through experimentation I’ve found the right temperature and add-ins that are right for me and my body. (I just wish our tub were deeper!)
Stretching! This doesn’t sound particularly calming, and honestly doesn’t feel that way in my body, depending on the day, but like hot pot, the routine is the real star of the show. Through, again, lots of experimentation, I’ve found the exact stretches, foam rolls, and self-massages that really feel good in my body. My muscles might be on fire, but there’s a very specific kind of satisfaction that comes with finding a knot and rolling it away.
Going for walks! This is not necessarily related to alone time – I go on walks all the time, sometimes with Bryan – but it’s one habit that I would love to continue into the rest of my life, even after “quarantine” is over. I love exploring different areas of my neighborhood, catching up on my podcasts, soaking up the sun, and getting my heart pumping a little bit. It’s been the perfect way to mentally separate my work day from the rest of my evening. I love a mental cue!
I’ve been thinking a lot over the past year about how unsupportive I’ve been to the people around me.
Recently, I realized that a lot of those experiences were tied to my previous jobs, like my college work-study job and my part-time jobs after that. I brushed off many coworkers who were openly dealing with traumatic experiences, or introduced uncomfortable topics of conversation without realizing that they could be triggering. I can’t stop thinking about how sad I must have made those around me feel, or even how they must have, understandably, distanced themselves from me after I proved to be an unreliable person.
At the time, I worried a lot about saying the wrong thing. Now I realize that saying nothing is its own way of “saying the wrong thing,” and my silence affects people in its own way.