Voluntary & Cathartic Isolation

I have been horribly overwhelmed over the last few weeks. Work is stressing me out and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. My husband and I have been running ourselves ragged trying to keep busy and visit with family. And as I’m writing this, I realize we will only get busier the closer we get to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Sometimes, we need a break. Even if it’s only a few moments, we need a break. And everyone takes their breaks differently. Some people need to recharge with good company. Others may need to just treat themselves to a spa night at home just to chill. And for me, I just need to be alone.

Now what the hell does that mean? And why does everyone treat it like a horrible thing?

What Does Voluntary Isolation Look Like?
Isolation may be a very strong word, but I’m going to use it anyway. Ever since I was a child, I’ve relied on quiet time to recharge. I’m very introverted, in the sense that it is mentally draining to talk and react to everyone around me. Even with my family, I temporarily need to step away and take a break.

It’s nothing super grand. Most of the time, I just lay down on the bed or the couch with my headphones and zone out. Sometimes I read a book. Other times I turn a fan on high, turn the lights off, and let the darkness and silence wrap around me like a cozy little quilt.

Why Am I Married If I Want To Be Alone?

I am married because I love my husband. One of the reasons I love him is because he understands this need of mine and doesn’t take it personally. Many times, no matter how politely I explain it to others, they take it as a sign of offense where I’d rather be alone than have someone join me at the coffee house.

What Happens If I Don’t Get To Be Alone?

There are times were obligations stand in the way of my mental health. For example, my call center could have 20 calls in queue and I am unable to step away and refocus after dealing with an angry customer.

I try to rely on quick coping methods. Sometimes it means sneaking into the bathroom and doing my breathing exercises quietly. No matter what, though, unless I can recover, my nervous habits start to kick in. Mild at first, and then it feels like I can’t stop them. They come in waves:

1st Wave: Rubbing my hands against my arms over and over

2nd Wave: Rubbing my hands together over and over

3rd Wave: Tension in my jaw, causing me to rub my jaw and my neck repeatedly

I also tend to be very short with people. I try to limit my conversations to what is vital, but few people get the idea that I’m trying to focus and not be rude. For example: if I am waiting to ask a question about an issue I am trying to resolve for an angry customer, I have no interest in discussing what you did for Halloween last night. I am sorry, but that’s just the truth. I’m not trying to be rude, I am trying to save my sanity.

So Do You Just Hate People?

It simply takes more energy for me to talk to people than others. Just like someone who works out may be able to lift heavier weights than me, more social people are just capable of talking to more people for longer. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me, it’s just how I am designed.

Why Don’t You Socialize More? Won’t That Help?

I suppose it may help.