I spent most of my life trying to make time and space for me, to be by myself. I would work really hard to create this space and time. I felt I was only truly happy and relaxed when I was on my own. I could breathe freely, and do what I liked, when I liked, with no one making demands on me, judging me or telling me what to do.
Why did I feel that I needed to be alone to be myself? Why was I like this?
When I was young, I got hurt. Nothing terrible happened, but I felt hurt that people did not truly see me and feel how lovely I was, and appreciate me – just for being me. From that time I found it hard to be myself around people, even though I loved them, as I was always trying to please everybody (which is exhausting) and so, I was always looking for ways to be alone.
The irony was that despite this deep desire to be alone, I rarely was. I worked with people, I was nearly always in a relationship, and once I had children, I was never alone! This desire to be alone when I was always surrounded by people, created a great deal of tension in my body and in my life.
Nowadays, I rarely have a moment to myself, and yet I rarely feel the same tension. When I do, I know that something is not right with me.
So, what has changed?
I have let people in. Not through the front door, or into my bed (except my husband!), but into my heart and into my world.
I have allowed people to see all of me. Now I do not hide the parts I don’t like much and I do not pretend to be someone I am not.
I am much more accepting of myself, and so I am much more accepting of everyone else, with all their foibles, weaknesses, and great beauty. When I allow them to see all of me, I can see all of them… and we are all mainly wonderful.
I like myself, and that has made it much more possible to like other people.
What I have learnt is that everyone I meet is reflecting something to me, so everyone becomes a gift, and every meeting is a great opportunity to learn more about myself and other people.
Having time and space alone can be lovely – an opportunity to deeply connect with myself. But if I ever feel like I need time and space to be by myself now, I ask myself: what is going on? Usually this happens because I have reacted to someone, felt hurt, taken something personally, and then gone into a ‘shut down’ state – wanting to withdraw from people, trying to protect myself from further hurt. I have learned that this does not work! It creates a wall between me and other people, and this wall does not protect me. All it does is stop me from seeing and feeling what is true, which is the great beauty that other people are, and that I am too.
We don’t always behave beautifully, but we are lovely, and if I remain aware of that I am not so hurt by another’s behaviour, even if it may be love-less. I now see the love-less behaviour as something that the person has done, and not who they are. And I know that because we are love; if our behaviour is loveless, in that moment we are not truly being ourselves.
If I am just being myself there is a great space within me, and all the time in the world. And this spaciousness spreads and extends from within me and is all around me, and I live and breathe and move in this space.
This spaciousness that I am feeling has a quality of lightness and loveliness, of being able to breathe freely and move flowingly and feel connected with everyone and everything around me. I feel open within, and therefore open to everyone and everything else. It feels like there is no beginning and no end to me.
I then share this space with everyone else, joyfully feeling that they hold the same quality, which is love, within them.
I share it with my husband, my children, my family and friends and everyone I meet. I don’t feel that work is hard work, even though I work hard – for it is a chance to be with people, whom I love. I don’t feel I need time away from my family, for I love to be with them, and share my spacious space with them!
Making time and space for me now means to hold that feeling, to be aware of the loveliness that lives within me, and to always live in that. And then I have all the time and space in the world… just being me.
By Anne Malatt, woman, doctor, wife, mother, grandmother, Northern NSW, Australia