Sometimes the idea of escaping to take a long holiday somewhere warm, relaxing and uncomplicated dominates my thoughts. Sounds simple enough, but one problem with this is being unable to get away from the person who causes me the most anxiety and worry, who irritates and annoys me on many levels and puts me under pressure. To be able to totally feel at ease with the world, not thinking about tomorrow or drowning in guilt about the past is impossible when the person you’d like to escape from is yourself. As far as I’m aware that is not as yet a possibility. I can drive myself crazy contemplating the idea that the only time we can take a break from ourselves is when we’re asleep, but even then the weird dreams, the frequent restless nights of broken sleep are hardly a respite. The other alternative I try not to dwell on deliberately.
My second choice would be to take an extended break alone or with a friend. Time away from routine and humdrum, the opportunity to explore new territory and sample fresh experiences would certainly help top up my often depleted tank of enthusiasm for life. Family may come first and be much loved, but I’m not a believer in spending every minute of our time with the same people. My days have consisted of caring for home, parents, children and grandchildren for as far back as I can remember and apart from a very rare weekend away with a friend or a couple of days staying with my sister, I have spent all my time at home or away with my other half. However, the chances of taking any extensive time out are about as likely as the first preference.
I’m someone who tends to ponder imponderables rather than solving practical problems or worrying about the price of carrots. I believe I’m pretty gregarious by nature and find people and the way they tick fascinating. I’m very aware we are all individuals with differing needs and preferences and I hope on the whole I make allowances for that. But I do wonder if we as humans were designed to function as individuals or only to feel fulfilled when surrounded by others. I suspect a combination of both might be the norm, but I do believe it is every person’s birthright to claim some personal space, both physically and mentally.
Always being claustrophobic by nature means avoiding many crowded places as well as enclosed spaces, but there are added, though not unusual complications to this phobia. I cannot bear anyone walking behind me, being trapped in queues or despite my desire to escape myself, not being allowed enough time alone. Personal space has become a massive issue for me since retiring from teaching. The thought I will probably never escape my daily life or my family for any longer than forty-eight hours can send me into panic mode; the prospect of never spending an evening alone for the rest of my life even more so.
When you live with someone who cannot understand the meaning of or need for space, it can make life almost unbearable at times. When your partner, no matter how good their intentions, never goes anywhere without you apart from a couple of rounds of golf a week, weather permitting, it leaves you screaming for some peace. When they also cannot comprehend the idea that people outside of family can be trusted and valuable, it only adds fuel to the fire. When they think they have a right to interrogate your every move, investigate your belongings and invade your private business it becomes virtually intolerable. When a peck on the cheek from a male friend or a cross on the bottom of an e-mail you’ve sent become reasons for a cross examination, you feel anxious and paranoid about almost everything and anything you may or may not do.
The way to survive comes in the form of temporary escape. If you can rarely have any time alone at home, the only other alternative is to get away whenever possible. The downside is of course, the sulking and interrogation that may follow and the knowledge it can only ever be for a short while. Permanent escape is not an option and not always the answer, no matter how strong the temptation at times. A little time alone, an occasional evening to yourself and an intermittent break away from it all would go a long way towards mending the situation.
Living in hope does become a way of life however. I recall some years ago the revelation that one day we’d be able to chat with family and friends via the computer blew me away. Now it’s just a way of life. Maybe I’ll still be around when they invent cyber travel of some kind and can disappear into the ether for a long awaited vacation by myself. Even better if I can leave my physical presence at home so there’s no suspicion involved and the ultimate of pleasures if I can leave inside my head behind too. I told you I ponder imponderables didn’t I?
I need a little time
To find myself
I need a little space
To work it out
I need a little room
A Little Time – The Beautiful South