I was born into a large, friendly family. When we lived at home, it was a bit like living in a dormitory. When we didn't live at home, we lived in a children's home, and that really was living in a dormitory. Plus, someone always had a friend or two over. Sometimes we all had a friend or two over, and often it was loud and crowded -- especially if Mom was cooking southern fried chicken and any of our friends heard about it. (My Mom was not the best cook in the world, but there were some things she made that were so good you would be hard pressed to find any better. Southern fried chicken -- can you say cholesterol -- was without a doubt her most wonderful cooking achievement. She made some pretty good new potatoes and dumplings too. Talk about a few carbohydrates.) Even as we started to grow up and leave home, it didn't seem to get much less crowded. Someone was always coming back home and usually bringing spouses and children with them.
Yet, in all that chaos, several of us found ways to spend time alone with just ourselves. Glenn spent hours upon hours reading. Cindy and I both went through a lot of teenage angst and took to writing poetry. Turns out the only good poetry I write is when I'm depressed or angry or hurt. Cathy and Joe were much more about people than the rest of us. I can't really say which category Harry fit into, because being 10 years older than I am, he was grown and gone by the time I started to actually figure out who I was. He did come home and bring his family and our Uncle Mahlon with him once, but that was just pure bedlam and I can't say that any of us had much peace during that timespan.
When I joined the Navy, of course boot camp and the barracks on the Naval Station in Norfolk were not conducive to privacy, but eventually I got to rent my own apartment and I was actually alone probably for the first time in my life. It was scary, especially since I'm afraid of the dark, but it was also my own private paradise. I could do anything I wanted without getting permission or without disturbing anyone else. I could read uninterrupted. I could write without worrying that someone was reading over my shoulder. I could play the records I wanted to hear whenever I wanted to hear them. You get the picture -- I was allowed to be me without any interference from anyone. I was in Heaven.
Then I married Steve and had to learn to live with someone again. There are a number of reasons that didn't work out so well, and I can't blame him for all of them (well I can, but to be truthful, I may have not been the world's most perfect mate). When that marriage mercifully died, I was once again on my own and I was, once again, thrilled. Oh, I'll admit, occasionally I felt sorry for myself and wondered if I was going to die alone with no one to care about me or notice my passing. Really. I've always been a bit of a drama queen. But to be truthful, most of the time I was a happy camper and rarely found myself bored with myself. I am an avid reader and I can get so lost in a book I actually feel as if I am one of the characters in the story. When I was younger, I thought the only part of my life I had gotten right was my career (since I was obviously a total screwup when it came to relationships), so I worked many long hours at improving my skills so as to advance in the world of business. Some of my jobs involved travel, which I love, and I was never afraid to go any place alone. I would think nothing of hopping a plane and flying off to New York or Chicago or Pittsburgh by myself. I would eat in restaurants by myself and never give it another thought. I rarely went into bars by myself, mostly because I'm just not a bar kinda person, but also because I figured that would just be asking for trouble.
Then one of my jobs moved me to Baltimore, I met Bud, we fell in love, he moved in, and basically I've never lived alone since. One of the first things I explained to Bud when it appeared our relationship was actually going to go somewhere wonderful, was that I didn't just want to be able to have some time to myself, but I NEEDED (as in it is a nonnegotiable requirement) to have "me time". We have disagreed (sometimes violently and sometimes like adults) about many things over the years, but we have never had to have another discussion about "me time". In that regard, we have a perfect relationship. We completely trust each other, so if I wanted to go off somewhere without him, he wouldn't get sulky and worry about what I might be doing. I also have always given him a great deal of latitude in our relationship. He goes for "boys night out" once a week to play pinochle without me because near as I can tell I'm not a "boy" though I do play pinochle fairly well. He goes to watch the Super Bowl with a group of guys at the Temple (he's an honorary member of the Brotherhood) without me because, again, I'm not a guy and I just really don't care about the Super Bowl. He goes to see Dark Star Orchestra (a Grateful Dead tribute band) without me because I just don't want to go. Greensboro used to have a decent minor league hockey team and we went to hockey games together for awhile. I lost interest, so he would take one of my closest girlfriends as his date -- no problem. We have just never found a reason to crowd each other. So I never had much reason to complain about being able to do my own thing in our relationship.
Then, along came SCDS. Now, I am home alone all day every day without supervision. Just think of the ways I could run amok, if only I were actually able to do anything. My life is more than a little bit restricted now. Doing a load of laundry is about as much exertion as I can take at any given time. I have plenty of time to read, write, play games. I can try to do things like dust, sweep, etc., but it usually turns out badly and just makes more of a mess when I barf. There is no way I could vacuum. The noise from the vacuum would cause so many problems with my head, I would need to go back to bed to attempt to recover. Basically, sitting still and not moving around a bunch is the limit of my talents now. I actually drove my van on Friday for the first time since before August 27, 2009. I needed to move it out of our driveway and I only drove it about 20', but I did have to miss a telephone pole (which I have managed to hit in the past), a fencepost and a tree. I successfully missed all of the obstacles and I am quite proud of myself. I would not, however, under any circumstances attempt to operate a vehicle on a road. The feeling sitting behind the wheel and watching everything around me move before I had even turned the key in the ignition was very bizarre.
So how do I feel about "me time" now that I have more than my fair share? I still love it. Since I am clinically depressed, and grey winter days magnify that depression, I have days when I am weepy and beaten down. But no matter what, I like me and I enjoy being with me and I have no trouble entertaining me for days on end. I may be alone much of the time, but I am rarely lonely.