I pulled into the driveway after dropping off my son at wrestling practice, walked into the house and it hit me- No one was home. My senior was called into work, and my husband would be gone all day rehabbing a property, so that left me here, all alone, if only for a few hours.
It was eerily quiet, empty of the ordinary voices and meanderings of my two teens and husband who fill this space regularly. Since Covid hit, I’ve seldom been alone, managing all the daily details with my family’s constant presence, distracting me from, well, me. Usually, I would relish in this rare moment, excited to finally have time to myself, but instead, I felt lost, not sure what to do with this extraordinary gift of “me-time” I’d been randomly given.
Sure, I’ve had some quiet time to do things for myself, like go on long walks or close the bedroom door and dive into some good books. But I could count on one hand the number of times this house has been vacant. Having my kids and husband surround me regularly for all these months has created a sense of normalcy I’ve grown accustomed to and I was struck by this unusual situation I was now facing that I have craved for and used to enjoy long ago.
I Would Expect to Welcome the Silence
I would expect to welcome the silence I’ve often longed for when I’ve felt suffocating stuck-ness, captive of everyone’s continual requests and interruptions that would sometimes bring me to the brink of breaking. But instead of embracing this solitude, I sunk into a fitful funk, restless, and conflicted.
I didn’t know what to do with myself, so, I quickly began going through the motions of working through all the tedious tasks of housekeeping. I did the dishes and threw a load of laundry in while thinking through all the lists of things I needed to get done. At the same time, there was an angry chaotic uprising in my thoughts badgering me to stop what I was doing and take advantage of this remarkably quiet home to do something nourishing and restorative, something insanely selfish.
I stood at my kitchen sink, staring out the window, paralyzed while this inner battle ensued. I looked at the clock, knowing my time was fleeting, this moment will be gone, and I will have wasted it in my own mental purgatory. Shame. So, then I invited discouragement and defeat into the ring because those have always been my favorite weapons of personal warfare I use so well.
And I spiraled into a full-on hot mess.
I berated myself for not spending this time wisely- this was the chance I had to fill my tank that seems to drain empty nearly every single day. But instead, I wandered around the house, aimless and growing more frustrated for not, at the very least, being more productive. I wallowed in my misery that now had ignited an uproar of every.single.feeling. I’d been trying to manage and control all these months. The anger and disgust, the fear and confusion, the deep grief and relentless despair, and the hopelessness and helplessness that can consume even the most emotionally tolerant human being with all that is going on in our country and our world.
It wasn’t that I was thinking about all the things that provoked these strong emotions. It was blurry and muddled in my mind, with no clear identifying trigger causing me to feel so distraught. This particular day was quite ordinary, nothing markedly traumatic happened in our little corner of the world. In fact, it was a pretty decent morning with our usual busyness of each family member muscling through what they needed to do. But for some reason, it didn’t matter how the day was going or what was ahead, I couldn’t shake this funk I’d fallen in. So, I just stayed there, in this awful place, accepting that some days, all the stress and strain of it all can surface at any given time.
And this was one of those times.
As I curled up on my couch, paralyzed with the emotional overwhelm that consumed me, I realized that maybe this was the self-care I so desperately needed, although it didn’t feel like self-care- it felt depleting and depressing. I’d been here before during all these difficult months, diving into this dark place, allowing the ugly toxic build-up of emotional waste to rise up in full force.
The weight of it all can sink us if we don’t purge the impurities we are constantly exposed to every day. Through all these long, hard months, I’ve tried to trudge through the madness, deciphering the layers of emotional soil that slowly soaks into this puddle I’m wading in. There’s a lot to sift through in order to free your steps from the slick sludge that forms at your feet.
I Realized That Maybe This Was the Self-Care I So Desperately Needed
Sometimes, for me, it looks like deep prayers and quiet walks to process all my convoluted thoughts and find the strength to tackle the challenges ahead. Other times it might be diving into comforting conversations with friends, garnering the needed advocates to validate my voice and find solidarity in our emotional strife. Often, it’s connecting with my husband in the quiet of the night, reminding me that some things, the most important things, are still the same. And it can also look like heaving sobs when the ferocity of my feelings can’t be held in any longer and I need to simply flush them out.
I write, I walk, I pray, I talk. I embrace my family now more than ever and I’m so grateful for all we have. I do everything I can, when I can, to manage the overwhelming pressure and stress of it all.
And yet there are moments I just need to surrender my strength and sink under the weight of the world that can sometimes take me down and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it until the heaviness starts to lift.
Or someone comes home. ❤️