Saturday, October 11, 2008

Alone Time

This morning I had a few things on my calendar. I had lunch with my two best friends from high school and then went to a baby shower afterward. Jon took the girls to his mother's house for a piano lesson and some family time.

They were still gone when I got home. I had about three hours here at the house to myself. I know so many of you out there are turning shades of green with envy. ALONE TIME!!! No kids crawling on you or fighting with each other or crying. What would it be like to have three whole hours to do whatever you want. 

This was the first time I had been alone for any significant time period since Camille died. I remember when the Relief Society presidency of my ward came to see me in the hospital and asked what they could do. One of the very few answers I gave them was, "I do not want to be left alone."

Until today, I hadn't been. Oh I have been alone in my car going places, but home alone for more than a few minutes ... no. See Jon works from home so either he or the kids is nearly always here with me.

Today I discovered I no longer enjoy alone time. The silence that used to be so golden was paralyzing to me. There was plenty I could have done with this time. The house was a mess. I should have cleaned. The laundry needed folding. I could have written something. I could have organized any number of disorganized places in my house. I could worked on scrapbooks or played the piano or worked out. I could even have taken a bath or gone to a book store and bought a great book to start reading. But I didn't. I couldn't. 

I was entirely overwhelmed by the emptiness. Instead I turned on the television to make there be noise and distract me. My mind ... it thinks too much in unhelpful directions when I am alone. Even car rides by myself are still difficult. I nearly always end up near tears when I arrive at my destination. It is easier to keep my mind in the present when I am in the presence of others. I wonder how long this will last? I wonder when I will be comfortable being alone again. I wonder if I will ever value alone time like I used to.

As soon as my family got home I was released from this captivity of quietness. I was able to clean the house and bake some cookies and help Annie practice violin and wrap presents with Sabrina and write something here. Doesn't it seem against logic that I should be so much more productive with children present than alone? I guess for now people, my family in particular, are the catalyst I need to activate the me who is living for today.

May those of you who need it find some alone time. I know at some seasons of life it is critical. And, for now, may my home be continually filled with the messes and noises of loved ones.  


Anonymous said...

I remember after my miscarriage, I couldn't be away from my son. It brought me to tears to think of dropping him off at a friend's for my follow-up doctor's appointment. He was my security. I didn't want to be alone and without him. And I didn't anticipate that. So, I can imagine that being alone would be difficult for you. I hope it doesn't happen again until you're ready for it.

Catherine Noorda said...

that is one of the best and sweetest posts i've read ever. i loved that. everything you said rang so true to me. our families are so special and so eternally valuable to us and that was really a good reminder to cherish each minute with our kids.

you're such a good mommy. your daughters are so blessed to have you! how fun for them to have you so excited to see them when they did arrive home after 3 silent hours.

good one, steph.

EMILY said...

you know you can call me to come over if you ever don't want to be alone. i will be there asap! it was so fun to see you today. i love you and you are amazingly strong and wonderful!

Angie said...

I too felt like "Heidi" did after my miscarriage. I didn't want to be away from my daughter. And those feelings carried over after I finally had my next baby. Now I never want to leave either one of them! I don't vacation without them, I don't even do babysitters very well! I think I would feel about alone time just like you do Stephanie, if I were in your situation. I'm glad you have your other 3 dauthers to make some theraputic noise for you!

Anonymous said...

Dear Stephanie,
My name is Tiana I have just come upon your blog from a friends a few day’s ago, and I have to tell you that your story has touched my life. I have gone back from the beginning days and read about everything and I truly think you are inspirational.
I am writing to you today for my own selfish needs. You see I have a cousin who I have been best friends with my whole life. Last October she lost her little girl due to an illness that no doctor could ever figure out. She was sick and in the hospital the first few months of her life but then things started looking up. She started to develop and grow as she should have it was a blessing that as a family we had been praying and fasting for. Then last October she had an episode again after not having one for almost 10 months. 10 day’s later we buried her one-week shy of her first birthday.
The reason I am telling you this is because we are only two and a half weeks away from the one-year anniversary. I have spent the last two weeks on the phone with my cousin constantly as she is having a very difficult time. Sometimes I will sit on the phone with her for an hour and she doesn’t say a word she just cries. I love that I can be the one she turns to but sometimes I feel like I don’t know what to do. I have read your post about what to do for a grieving family or friend and I loved what you have taught me so thank you so much. I have actually been praying regularly, attending the temple and fasting to help me know what I can do for her.
Tonight I finally got the movie on your post “That Glorious Day” to work (for some reason it my computer wouldn’t open it the 3 other times I have looked at it) I watched that beautiful video with your beautiful daughters pictures going by and I cried and was very touched. The song is truly beautiful and the pictures you have put to it make it even more precious. What I was wondering is if there would be any way you would let me use the song to make a slide show for my cousin. Stephanie if you don’t feel comfortable letting me use this please doesn’t hesitate to tell me. I will understand if it is just too sacred for you. I was just thinking that it might be something to help my cousin.
If not you have already touched my life and helped me out by your story, thank you for sharing. Camille was truly a beautiful little girl and she was lucky to have you as her mother. I will hold my little girl a little bit tighter tonight because of you.

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

I understand the pain of quiet only in a different way. My house was also quiet today, but noone came home to fill it with the noise and confusion of life. Noone called out to me, noone needed a hug, noone needed a story, noone needed me.
My nest is empty now, and that too can be painful. Not the same as your painful, but nevertheless the loneliness is there. I loved being a mother - I loved every second of it, and I valued every day. I miss those days, but they are gone and part of me is gone also.
This is the cycle of life, but the quiet can be deafening.

Christina said...

I feel that way a lot, for much different and less permanent reasons. I have 4 kids in school this year (sent one to Kindergarten this year), and only one at home. My 2 year old usually takes a decent nap, which I told myself before school started would mean I was going to catch up on life. My house would be clean, my scrapbooks caught up, etc. Somehow, when everyone is at school and the little one is sleeping, I feel out of sorts and usually do little more than check email or turn on the news. When the kids get home from school, I suddenly start getting things done. I *should* be getting things done while they are gone so I can focus completely when they are home, but somehow I haven't gotten into that groove yet...even though we are over a month into school! I just don't feel complete with them all gone. Heaven help me in 3 years when my littlest one heads off to school.

I've been reading your blog for months, thanks for letting me both cry and smile with you!

Marleen said...

I have to say I did enjoy seeing your family at Grandma's. Your girls are so sweet to Nora, Aubrey and I. I love the loves they give us. They seem to give extra loves lately since Camille is gone. I can see how you would immediately miss their presence.

Your progress at times may seem crippled but I look on you and only see strides of progression. It has been an amazing learning process for me and I'm sure everyone who reads this blog or comes in contact with you.

I don't find it odd you are this way. I've always found it hard to be away from my girls. I have only managed to be away for a night- not even 24 hours. People find it odd but I just miss them and want to be with them. I'm sure Heavenly Father feels that to the umpteenth degree about all of us. How else could he have given up His son?

Your's is different of course then mine but I don't find your's as weekness. You are amazing in every way to me and I find myself blessed to have you in my family and blessed to be able to learn important principles from you.

The Gray Family said...

I am so glad you have those other three sweet beautiful girls to keep you busy and distracted. One day it will get easier! Sabrina's blog is adorable, by the way :>)

Tiffany said...

Steph, I couldn't agree with you more. In fact my husband and I were just having this conversation not 20 minutes ago. Call me when you're alone, we can be "alone" together and then it won't be so bad. Oh, why can't you live 6 hours closer???? :)

Rach said...

I HATE being by myself now. My brain goes into overdrive and I begin to replay the incidents of my last day with Hannah--over and over and over again.

I get it.


Anonymous said...

It's me again, Jeanenne from sacramento area, My little Holly was scooped up into heaven on June 22nd. I know what you mean about being alone. I have 9 children and holly was the 9th. A gift, a surprise. After #8 they said I couldn't have any more. Then there was Holly 4 1/2 yrs later. We cherished her for 2 1/2 yrs. I had so many things I wanted to do with her when the others went back to school.I found myself dreading school starting after she died. Now monday, wed, and fri mornings are so very hard. Tues and thurs I started working. I have people I could call or visit, but your right it is paralizing and I do have to work through it. I'm working on setting up a blog, but the "no tech" in my email is really true. Perhaps my husband can help me one of these days. Thanks for your inspiration. Jeno from Sacramento area

Anonymous said...

What you said is how I've always been, and as I've always been a little more anxious than the average person, what you said made sense to me. I did my Ph.D. coursework as I made supper, cleaned the house, listened to my one son practice his drums everyday after school for hours, and supervised my other son playing outside with next-door neighbors.

I do think, though, that as you are a praying person, the time will come when you will once again be able to be alone with your thoughts and not be paralyzed, because it will hit you that you are never alone.

Deborah in Illinois

Michelle Arnett said...

Stephanie, this post hit home to me. Even now, 2 1/2 years into my grief I dread being alone. I shouldn't say dread, because it has become more manageable, but truly, being alone was dreadful to me, especially in the early parts of my grief. The silence was deafening. Suffocating. The silence reminds you of the absence. The void is more surfaced because for me, I think of what my house should sound like. To this day I don't enjoy being alone, but I can manage. When my husband walks through the door, just having him in the house brings peace to my spirit. . even if he's in the opposite ends of the house. After James died, I wouldn't let my Mother in Law go home for 3 weeks. Everyday I asked her to postpone her flight home. Much love. Where in Vegas do you live? James died in Aliante. . we lived in North Las Vegas when he passed away.

Marylin said...

I appreciate this post, my friend that lost her two daughters last year does not like to be alone. Since all her other children are older she will often invite my daughter or other children to come and play just to have noise. Thinking of you often!