Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Joy of Being Inside My Head


I grew up in a house with seven other children: I had three sisters, and four cousins that my parents took in after their mother (my aunt) died. The transition to an 8-child household was sudden, as my parents had not foreseen my aunt's death or the need to step in and raise her children. Therefore, I had a rough time adjusting to the change.
      I went through a short phase where I responded to this struggle with the expected outbursts: temper tantrums, running away from home, etc. But that got old quickly for me, mainly because all the whippings I received weren't fun to deal with. So, I pulled back from this behavior and focused on another kind of self-therapy: solitude.

     It was only natural, from my point of view. I was in a three-bedroom/one-bathroom house that felt cramped to the max with people. Resources were tight, luxuries were rare, and the idea of personal space was a joke. To me, it felt like I didn't have anything that was truly my own, as the concept of sharing and passing down becomes necessary when you have that many children to take care of.
      The only thing that I could control and keep for myself were my thoughts...so I became very engaged in inspecting, reviewing, enjoying and (most importantly) protecting my thoughts.
      One of the side effects of this decision was that I began to be viewed by my siblings, cousins and classmates as a bit of a weirdo. My sisters and cousins would catch me murmuring or laughing to myself (I found my thoughts very entertaining at times). I walked around with my head hanging down a lot. And I preferred reading books to talking to other children my age.
      Since growing up, I have become more outgoing (more like the precocious child I was before things in my home had changed so quickly). Some people who know me now would be surprised at the idea of me being a completely insular person, as certain settings (work, social events) bring out the gregarious lively part of my personality. But a lot of things remain the same.
      I have spent most of my adult life living alone, having roommates only out of financial need or that one time my sister and I thought we'd enjoy being roommates. Even now, one of my favorite parts of the day is when I go back to my house and sigh with relief at the fact that no one else is there taking up my space or expecting me to entertain/accommodate them in some way. I can enjoy my personal space, doing the things I enjoy, such as crocheting, reading, painting, writing...or simply thinking.
      That's one of the biggest parts of myself that few people understand: the fact that I can sincerely enjoy my alone time and my thoughts. I love reviewing the day to myself, thinking about politics and religion to myself, working out debates and issues with myself, daydreaming to myself...being by myself.
      It's not because I hate the company of others. I just really appreciate the company of my self.
--Alison M. Caddell (c) 2015

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