I've been sitting in my favorite overstuffed chair, but for how long? Wow! It's been two hours. Where has the time gone?
But I do feel better. I'm calmer, less anxious. How could I feel this way when the circumstances of the week haven't changed? I realize it's because I've taken time for me.
Why had I waited so long? I smiled as I recalled my girlfriend's cynical observation: "Guilt, Barbara. It's the gift that keeps on giving."
I just finished a 50-hour work week, and now I'm thinking about attending an upcoming single-adult retreat. But I feel guilty about going because I'll have to leave my kids—again. I'm often driven by guilt. I push down my needs in order to satisfy my children's needs—beyond a point that is healthy. Am I driven by the feeling that I need to make up for what may be lacking in their lives? My kids didn't deserve a single-parent household, so I'll make up for it by giving and giving and giving.
A second reason taking time for myself is difficult is because being alone is scary. Perhaps I've been keeping so busy to avoid having to be alone. Maybe I don't really want time to ponder and reflect and even dream.
I remember the summer more than ten years ago, when my parents arrived at my doorstep to take my children home with them for two weeks. As they drove away and I blew kisses to them, my stomach churned. It was the first time I'd been completely alone for more than a year. What was I going to do with all this free time?1