So where have I been??? Good question. I have been alone. Can you believe it?! Its true.
My father gifted me a plane ticket to Naples, FL to visit. I had booked the flight and if I am honest with myself, I was a nervous wreck and not at all excited to leave. It seemed so overwhelming!
I am used to making copious lists for five children, taking into consideration the weight and airline regulations for suitcases. There is nothing more humiliating than having to open up your suitcase and move your underwear and tampons to another one so that you can even out the bags and avoid the $100 bag fee. I have had to be that person on more than one occasion. When we pack, I have had the challenge of packing diapers (daytime, overnight and swim!), formula, sippy cups and sunblock etc. Talk about a daunting task to make sure everyone has enough underwear and bathing suits to last a week. There are the miscellaneous lists that focus on the “other” essentials non-specific to each child… phone and I-pad chargers, cameras, 5 birth certificates, boarding passes, reusable water bottles, medications and floaties. No small feet, I can assure you.
So why was packing just one little non-checked suitcase for me seemed a Herculean task? I was leaving for two and a half days… what could I possibly need?! I packed at the very last minute (11 pm when my flight left at 5 am the next morning), taking bathing suits, a nice dress, shorts and extra books. I am a hardcore book lover and it was worth carrying those bulky hard covers on board!
The car picked me up at 3 am and I had tears in my eyes as we pulled away. I was paralyzed as we drove through Boston. It was surreal that this driver was going to just drop me on the curb of the airport.
I didn’t even have to check in. There were no birth certificates to be reviewed or extra large bags to be checked. I headed straight for security.
I made it through security in under five minutes. When I walked through the metal detector, I felt like I had seriously forgotten something. Security for us involves fighting with the Littles over putting lovees through the metal detector, unloading computers, putting out kid’s cell phones, emptying the full sippy cups of milk, cleaning out the stroller so that it can be wanded by TSA…
I have never been through security alone, and I mean alone alone, as in only one person. I have been through security alone, as in one parent alone with five kids plenty of times. Let me tell you the difference is truly crazy. How I get through security alone is something that makes me scratch my head every time.
It was at this point that the aloneness set in and tears streaked my cheeks to the point of having to go to the bathroom so I wouldn’t embarrass myself in public for all the emotion on display. Most people get distressed because security is so annoying and difficult. For me, security was a slap in the face. It was a reality check. Is it possible that I have never truly been alone!? That I was without my child-security blanket was tough to swallow.
The flight was uneventful and I landed safely in Naples, very alone, with no toys to make sure didn’t get left onboard, no gate checked strollers (yes, multiple strollers) and no baggage to claim.
Oprah (yes, I am quoting Oprah) said that alone time is when you distance yourself from the voices of the world so that you can listen to your own. How true, Oprah, how very true.
The discomfort I felt was being alone. I am so surrounded by other voices talking to me and pushing themselves on me that I can very rarely hear what my own heart has to say. What are my thoughts? What are my own feelings? Hearing my own voice was truly uncomfortable for me. I wish that I could say that I embraced it, but I did everything that I could to distract myself from my own voices for at least a day of my time in Florida. I went for a run… OK, more of a jog/walk… a wog. I watched mindless TV and indulged in reading TWO books while in Florida. I went for a dip in the pool… bringing my book in to read at the edge so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the fact that there weren’t five kids trying to clammer on my back and mindlessly splashing me in the face every two seconds.
It was a tough time for me. I longed for my kids and for my life the way I would if it was all taken from me for good. Why was I mourning this existence that was so difficult and hard to navigate on a daily basis? Why did I not want to listen to my own thoughts?
Truthfully, a lot of the stuff that floats around in my brain, when allowed to come out, is negative, about me… how I mother, how my body looks, how I dress, how clean or dirty my house is, how clean or filthy my kids are. If I keep this tornado of life spinning at an erratic pace and always just dealing with the clean up, I won’t ever have to focus on me. Ugh. There isn’t much up in that big old brain of mine that has anything nice to say about me. It is a self hate reel that plays over and over. You are probably asking how I can say all this about myself, and I will tell you, this is just the truth and I’m writing it here so that I can work on it.
I may not come across as a person who is totally racked with self doubt and insecurity, but I am often overwhelmed by it. I throw myself into project after project and event after event to distract myself from what is going on inside my brain. Being alone in Naples took all the distraction from my world and left me in a fog of self hatred. I said it. Its out there.
It was uncomfortable but guess what, on the last day, I went for a walk on the beach, close to sunset… alone… and I felt good. The anxiety I have always felt passed through and I was totally in the moment. I took that time to focus on what I liked about myself. The wonderful things that I have and will accomplish. The fact that I have somehow made it through almost twelve years of motherhood without causing any permanent damage (that I know of!) on my kids. This body of mine can walk me down the beautiful beach and listen to the ocean. It has created and given birth to five incredible children. Though I bare lots of scars like stretch marks and skin sag from pregnancy, they are the record of all of the love that my body put into having them. My hands can dig into the earth and nurture plants. My eyes love to take in those sunsets and, if I get the time and energy, I can put those feelings on paper in the form of decent poetry. I am a fantastic planner. You give me a task and I can figure out the most cost effective, time saving plan that anyone could come up with and pull it off. I love being and working with kids. They give me such joy and seeing their faces light up in those Ah ha! moments is completely mind blowing. My kids are GOOD kids, albeit not always with teeth brushed or jelly wiped from their faces. I have never been so proud of anything I have ever done as when I watch them going out into the world. I have lost my mother young and come through difficult times without her physically being there. I am tough.
There is so much to love about me and my life and I need to force myself to review those things every day. They won’t stop the negative reel from playing, but hopefully, some day, they will completely drone it out and I will feel totally comfortable in my own skin.
My time in Florida was really wonderful. I got to spend time with my father that I never would have gotten otherwise. Father-daughter relationships are never easy. During this trip, we got to talk, eat great meals and also sit comfortably and quietly together. Life has been difficult lately and having him near me reminded me that while often reserved, he will always silently be there for me no matter what storm comes up next. It was a true and completely unexpected gift.
Needless to say, I was overjoyed to see my kiddies when I got home. Their hugs and kisses were the best thing ever. They are my world and so important to me. I put them first in all things, but one two-day trip has reminded me that I need to put myself on that list of most important things too. I can’t keep tornadoes spinning just to distract from my own needs. I do need to take a step back and breath. If I don’t learn to take the time to love myself, how will I ever be able to fully love those around me?! Aaah!
So here is my challenge for you… can you be alone for five minutes? If I can find the time… you can too…
- Can you take the time to have a cup of tea or coffee alone? I mean without the TV blaring behind you or cell phone next to you (not even on vibrate).
- When you take away those distractions going on around you, can you make a list of the things that your brain is saying to you… the big old negative bad boys that float around and hold you back from doing the things that you really want to do in this world? For example: “My kids never listen to me. They talk back and their rooms are disgusting!! I have got to be a bad mom and I must be doing something wrong!!!”
- Now is the tricky part. Can you write at least five things that you are eternally grateful for in your life? Can you figure out what part you have played in those things? Another example: “I have two beautiful and smart kids… and I raised them to be this way because I love them with all of my heart. They know that I will never stop loving them no matter what.”
Good luck with this! If you feel like getting those bad boys out there into the world, add them to my comments! You will be freed up from so much negativity that you will have more room for positive self loving thoughts.
Stay tuned for my next post… big changes coming and… what the heck is Hygge????