Sometimes solitude is the only comfort. I never used to believe that in the past. In fact, I spent many years doing everything in my power to avoid solitude. Fearful of what might happen should I find myself alone. Doubting my own strength, unable to trust my own instincts, my decisions, the experiences of my life. Now I sit here, in solitude, and I revel in the comfort it brings.
The phone rings a tune that usually makes my heart leap in eager anticipation. It is the one tune that can rouse me from blissful sleep, my lethargic arm reaching clumsily across the bed to hear the voice on the other end. And yet, this morning, I have ignored that tune several times. The TV remains off, no noise to disturb the solitude of this morning, no intruding voices to interrupt this brief period of time in which I find myself alone and comforted in my aloneness.
I have learned that solitude can be a beautiful gift, allowing me to reflect, to write, to immerse myself in a personal haven of security. But solitude can also serve the same misguided purposes as the companionship of my past. While I used to crave the company of others in order to avoid the fears of facing myself alone, perhaps the solitude now serves as a crutch to avoid facing the fears that inherently come with having to interact with others. In solitude, I can halt reality, if even for just a moment. I can move beyond words of reassurance or words that provoke anxiety. I can let go of the worries, the anticipations, the fear of not meeting expectations. I can wear my warmers, making me smile as I look down and ground myself in the moment. My rumpled hair do not frighten me. I sit with my laptop, sipping in a cuppa, and a beautiful pile of books by my side. In solitude, I can lose myself or find myself, find strength or wallow in weakness.
Several years ago, I realized that it is impossible to truly find oneself in the company of others. Surely growth can occur in the moments we are not alone, but the truest, deepest, most personal growth - that growth occurs in solitude. In solitude, we cannot escape from ourselves. We can escape from others, and indeed sometimes solitude serves that sole purpose. But we can find ourselves in the process. At times by accident, we come to know more of who we are in those moments when the outside world is pushed aside.
In all honesty, the solitude of this morning has many purposes for me. Partly, I do want to escape from the necessity of talking, or interacting, of being encouraged to make decisions about the events of the day. But a large part of me embraces this solitude for the pure essence of what it is. Time, silence, moments of reflection. Perhaps I will reach an epiphany in these moments. Perhaps I will succumb to the bodily exhaustion and bury myself beneath the warm comforter once again. Or maybe, just maybe, I'll sit with this solitude for a while.