I remember when my now 17 year old son Jordan was really young, maybe age 3 or 4, I was commuting from Spanaway to Renton (about 60 to 90 minutes) to work. About once a month, instead of going home after work, I went and spent the night with a dear girlfriend who lives in Seattle only 30 minutes from my place of employment at the time. The next morning I'd get up and go to my job from there and go home to my family after work. I remember feeling so filled up, happy and at peace having had that time away. I also remember my ex-husband being very resentful of that time and not appreciating or understanding my need for it. I remember one conversation where I said to him "It just makes me love you and Jordan more. I can't explain it, it just does." It wasn't exactly Home Alone Time that I was getting in that case, but sometimes, when I'm desperate "Away From Home Time" is better than nothing.
I decided today that I needed to get real clear on what it was about for me, and why I am not willing to give in on this particular issue in my house so I wrote this article to figure it out and maybe, just maybe it will help my husband understand that it's not about him. That it's far more selfish than that, it's definitely about me.
HOME ALONE TIME AKA "HAT"
What is Home Alone Time?
Home Alone Time is just that - time to be at home, alone in the house without anyone else around to interrupt personal introspection time, creative time, work time or rest time. Having someone else in the home at the same time, no matter how quiet or uninvolved they are is still an intrusion either passive or active and does not constitute true Home Alone Time. Home Alone Time, is quiet, personal time to just BE. To listen to what is going on inside me, to hear my true needs, wants, desires, thoughts, ideas and opinions. It's a time to unplug from everything and everyone else in the world, to journal, process, ponder, or not. There isn't an agenda for Home Alone Time. Chores and other household duties could happen during Home Alone Time, but they are optional and not part of the Home Alone Time process. Home Alone Time is about being disengaged from any other human being for a period of time so that I can be fully engaged with me. To hear what my heart wants me to know, to follow thoughts, inspiration or action on whatever path may come up without being on guard or worried what someone else might think, do or say to interrupt the process. Home Alone Time is not about not being with another person - it's about being with myself. It isn't a punishment to others that live in the home for any certain behavior or lack. It isn't about not wanting to spend time with those I reside with. It is about needing to spend time, alone, in a safe, quiet and comfortable environment with myself. HAT allows me to disconnect from the chaos of daily life and reconnect with my authentic self in a deep, meaningful and spiritual way.
Why is it important?
Home Alone Time is vitally important to me. It seems to be more important now than I ever realized before, probably because I am not getting very much of it with Brian working from home and the lack of HAT has triggered a lot of resentment within me. Home Alone Time is not just a want for me, it is a true life sustaining need. I need this time to regenerate energy, both physically and emotionally. I need Home Alone Time to be okay with whatever is happening in my life.
How often is Home Alone Time needed?
There doesn't seem to be any "set" formula for how much or when is optimal only that SOME must exist. More isn't always necessarily better either. The amount of time "needed" may vary from week to week. In some weeks I may need more HAT to process and cope with whatever is coming up for me in my life. Other people may not be able to just "know" if I need more HAT or less. Somewhere there is an internal barometer that can answer the question within me. I need to remember to consult with it and let others know when I might need more or less HAT.
Is HAT only necessary when things aren't going well?
Absolutely not. HAT is necessary whether things are going well or not. If things ARE good, then HAT only helps keep me in the space of "I am okay" because it allows me to stay in touch with the inner wisdom that my soul can provide when fully disengaged from the world and others. When things in life are not going so good, HAT is also vital and important because in that time and space I am able to think quietly and clearly about what is coming up, to get into a true process of those things and to find a place of peace and comfort within.
What is the benefit to others of Home Alone Time?
When the people I love the most give me the gift of regular HAT without begrudging it, I feel closer and more emotionally connected to them. That's right! They can meet part of my need for emotional connection by honoring my need to be home alone sometimes. By making time to be elsewhere for me to have HAT, they are saying to me "I love you, I know this is important to you, I may not get it, but your needs matter to me so I will find something else to do for this period of time." Giving HAT grudgingly definitely reduces the productive nature and point of having HAT. Some is better than none, but resentment from the one giving me the time and space to be home alone is very counter productive to the whole process and will definitely limit the benefits of HAT for me as well as what it would otherwise allow me to give back to them.
What feelings come up around having Home Alone Time?
When I get a necessary amount of HAT I feel more loving towards my family. I feel more able to find patience, forgiveness and grace for them in their struggles, imperfections and the things that just plain annoy me about them. Somehow, HAT creates a protective bubble around me so that the things that might otherwise grate on me, frustrate me, annoy me or tip me over emotionally, don't seem to have as much power. I don't understand how or why it works, I only know that it does.