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Strategies for being alone (in a life filled with people)

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Strategies for being alone (in a life filled with people)

Postby Dsptial » Wed Sep 04, 2019 6:23 am

In the introductions thread, Oblivion kindly responded to my post where I was complaining about the struggle to find time alone. Oblivion said:

My experience has been that when I am pressured to sacrifice my solitude, my mood plummets and my need for isolation increases. When I am given enough space, I am more comfortable and more functional.


This is my own experience exactly. When I'm spending a lot of time around other people, even my "free time" is not very productive at producing work or relaxation. When I'm properly isolated for a while, my brain starts working, I stop procrastinating, and I can get a lot done.

Oblivion also said:
If they really understood or cared, they would accept you the way you are.


And although I do feel like this sometimes, I don't think I should agree. Living and interacting with other people always involves compromises. I've made choices that create obligations to other people, and asking to be allowed to behave exactly as I would like to behave would be selfish and unfair.

It would also, I think, be counter-productive in the long run. In my case, and if I understand correctly I think this is a common experience for SPD, I do want to be connected to other people. The people I want to be connected to live within a world filled with even more people. Whilst I would love to just interact with the people that I want to interact with, in the ways that I want to interact, that isn't something that they would accept. My wife, for example, considers that part of my relationship with her means that I am obligated to interact with her family.

So what I'd really like to do is to get better at creating time alone, given that it has to be negotiated, it can't just be claimed. I don't want to be a jerk to other people, I just want to avoid them as much as possible.

So, a few open questions that people might be interested and/or willing to engage with:

1) What counts as being alone? For me, I've always found it hard to feel alone unless I'm completely alone in my own house, and I know that no one else is going to show up. Having a guarantee that no one will come at least until the next day feels super-alone.

2) Is it possible to increase feeling alone even when other people are nearby? I have my own study, but it's impossible to guarantee that my wife and kids won't want to come in and talk to me when I am in there. It definitely counts as partially alone, but might be possible to make it better.

3) Are there good strategies for negotiating more time alone - particularly from family?
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Re: Strategies for being alone (in a life filled with people)

Postby Oblivion » Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:41 pm

Oblivion wrote:My experience has been that when I am pressured to sacrifice my solitude, my mood plummets and my need for isolation increases. When I am given enough space, I am more comfortable and more functional.


Although I did say it later in the post from which the above quote was culled, I should point out that when given ample space, I am also more likely to seek out social interaction, or at least think about it without dismissing the idea so quickly.

As far as people accepting you as you are, yes, there has to be some compromise. On both sides. But this compromise can be adjusted to fit the situation at hand. For example; it's perfectly reasonable for your wife to expect you to interact with her family, but she should also understand that when you pass the point of being able to tolerate it comfortably, she should offer you some kind of exit.

That's all. I can't really give you any tips regarding the topic here, because I am not married. If anything, I enjoy too much isolation. Sometimes just going out onto the street after a few days inside can be surreal, even jarring. I'm tempted to say that's probably not healthy, but neither is the alternative.

I can answer the following questions, though:

What counts as being alone?

Mainly, knowing nobody has any expectations of me. No calls to return, no emails to respond to, no pending business that might cause somebody to call, or worse (unspeakably so) to knock on my door.

I want one of these:

Image

Is it possible to increase feeling alone even when other people are nearby?

When I lived in a house with five other people, simply being alone in my room was usually the best I could do. I suppose it's a matter of degree. If I found myself in a similar situation these days, it would take me a long time to adjust to accepting that my solitude would have to be compromised. In fact, being that I've lived alone for the past 25 years, I wonder if I could ever adjust. It's a scary thought, but that fear is tempered only by the fact that I am currently in quite a bit of financial distress, and taking on a roommate would be an ideal solution as far as finances go. But I've lived here for 12 years, alone except for the first, and having anyone move in would feel like a violation I could never come to terms with. If I were ever to share a living space with someone, it would have to be in a new place. The apartment where I live now is too much "mine". To see anyone else lounging on the couch at 10 PM would never stop feeling like an invasion. I've rubbed my scent everywhere.

Are there good strategies for negotiating more time alone - particularly from family?

Actually I can answer this. What I used to do is be aware of everybody else's schedule so I could make sure that if there was ever a window of time when nobody else would be home, I would make sure to take advantage of it. I can even remember calling out of work once or twice to take advantage of an empty house.
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Re: Strategies for being alone (in a life filled with people)

Postby salles » Fri Sep 06, 2019 5:49 am

Dsptial wrote:In the introductions thread, Oblivion kindly responded to my post where I was complaining about the struggle to find time alone. Oblivion said:

My experience has been that when I am pressured to sacrifice my solitude, my mood plummets and my need for isolation increases. When I am given enough space, I am more comfortable and more functional.


This is my own experience exactly. When I'm spending a lot of time around other people, even my "free time" is not very productive at producing work or relaxation. When I'm properly isolated for a while, my brain starts working, I stop procrastinating, and I can get a lot done.

Oblivion also said:
If they really understood or cared, they would accept you the way you are.


And although I do feel like this sometimes, I don't think I should agree. Living and interacting with other people always involves compromises. I've made choices that create obligations to other people, and asking to be allowed to behave exactly as I would like to behave would be selfish and unfair.

It would also, I think, be counter-productive in the long run. In my case, and if I understand correctly I think this is a common experience for SPD, I do want to be connected to other people. The people I want to be connected to live within a world filled with even more people. Whilst I would love to just interact with the people that I want to interact with, in the ways that I want to interact, that isn't something that they would accept. My wife, for example, considers that part of my relationship with her means that I am obligated to interact with her family.

So what I'd really like to do is to get better at creating time alone, given that it has to be negotiated, it can't just be claimed. I don't want to be a jerk to other people, I just want to avoid them as much as possible.

So, a few open questions that people might be interested and/or willing to engage with:

1) What counts as being alone? For me, I've always found it hard to feel alone unless I'm completely alone in my own house, and I know that no one else is going to show up. Having a guarantee that no one will come at least until the next day feels super-alone.

2) Is it possible to increase feeling alone even when other people are nearby? I have my own study, but it's impossible to guarantee that my wife and kids won't want to come in and talk to me when I am in there. It definitely counts as partially alone, but might be possible to make it better.

3) Are there good strategies for negotiating more time alone - particularly from family?

I totally understand your need to be alone but am unsure how you would negotiate it, with wife and kids in the picture, I thought perhaps your wife would like time alone also and you could negotiate that you both get a full and uninterrupted day to self. My guess is she would need less than this, and you would need more and it would be difficult if you all live in the same house.
Then I thought, a cabin at the bottom of the garden with a big 'do not disturb sign'. But I reckon you would spend more and more time here. It would become more addictive, more of a need which would not bode well for wife and kids. Also you may not have a garden :)

Does your wife understand your needs regarding being alone?
If not, any negotiation will be difficult.
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Re: Strategies for being alone (in a life filled with people)

Postby Schizological1 » Fri Sep 06, 2019 6:23 am

A sneaky way to be alone is to be in your room and have only one comfortable seat there so people will not want to come in, and if they harass you to get outside you just keep saying ok, later... Thats how i spent a big chunk of my life.

And i usually kind of avoid commitments in the first place lol, i wouldnt have kids because i know what it takes and i know i would throw them in the trash at some point, i wouldnt have a wife with expectation because i would simply not listen to her and do whatever i want regardless of what she thinks, i dont get into any kind of cage by choise ever.
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Re: Strategies for being alone (in a life filled with people)

Postby Oblivion » Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:35 pm

Schizological1 wrote:A sneaky way to be alone is to be in your room and have only one comfortable seat there so people will not want to come in


Fart a lot.
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Re: Strategies for being alone (in a life filled with people)

Postby Cholls » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:08 am

Dsptial wrote:So, a few open questions that people might be interested and/or willing to engage with:

1) What counts as being alone? For me, I've always found it hard to feel alone unless I'm completely alone in my own house, and I know that no one else is going to show up. Having a guarantee that no one will come at least until the next day feels super-alone.

2) Is it possible to increase feeling alone even when other people are nearby? I have my own study, but it's impossible to guarantee that my wife and kids won't want to come in and talk to me when I am in there. It definitely counts as partially alone, but might be possible to make it better.

3) Are there good strategies for negotiating more time alone - particularly from family?

First, neither I nor my husband is schizoid. I frequent this forum because I correspond with a friend who is a deep schizoid. Some aspects of my home setup might be useful to you, however.

1) Both my husband and I appreciate solitude and would agree with your definition of being "alone". Both of us profoundly resent it when the doorbell rings, unless we're expecting delivery of a package requiring signature confirmation.

2) Not only does my husband have his own study, but this is at the far end of the large basement. So, he essentially has his own floor of the house, as well as his own mini-fridge and half-bathroom. During the day, we usually talk only when he "surfaces"--coming up to the kitchen to have lunch and dinner. At such times, I can talk as much or as little as I like. He knows this is "the deal". Only extremely rarely do I go downstairs to talk to him, and he's forewarned of this by sounds in the stairwell and my "peeping"--I let out a high-pitched "peep" when I reach the bottom of the stairs. He "peeps" back, and I know it's OK to approach him to ask a question.

My husband requires humans even less than my extreme schizoid friend. The fact that I have no need to walk past his study door AT ALL when he's home means a lot to him. Hence, the location of your study--whether or not it is in a highly-trafficked area past which people walk--is important. The fact that my husband can expect to be alone in his study, uninterrupted, almost whenever he is in there means a lot to him.

To be blunt, the fact that you have ZERO guarantee that your wife and kids will NOT barge in when you are in your study provides the illusion of privacy and solitude without the real benefit.

In order to begin to feel well, you, my husband, me, and all schizoids NEED a physical place that is ENTIRELY under our control to which we can repair for a time period ENTIRELY under our control.


I know how vital "time alone" is to my husband (does your family actually understand how non-negotiable solitude is for you???). And there are times when I absolutely need to discuss something (being a recovering Borderline Personality Disordered hoomin). The fact that I know he hears me when I need to talk has, seemingly counter-intuitively, caused me to need him far, FAR less. You cannot fake this with women, nor with children.

Eventually, trust will develop. While talking about such things may sound absurd when discussing a nuclear family, many of us here DESPERATELY NEED SPACE because trust was largely if not entirely absent from our formative years.

So, eventually you will reach the following state:

The fact that I know that, even when he is making coffee in the kitchen, my husband KNOWS I need PRIVACY and WANTS me to have it helps me to accept his presence upstairs without bristling. Likewise, the fact that he KNOWS that I WANT him to have PRIVACY helps him accept that, when I (almost never) have to walk past his study, it's because I need to retrieve something and the job can't wait until he's out.


It seems to me you won't be able to give your family "quality you", consistently, without first having stored considerable "solitude fat". Somehow, they need to know this, that this is not some perverse whim of yours, but how you are made. They need to know that you will have little to give unless you feel whole, and that it's possible you might even break if you are both deprived of solitude for too long and forced to socialize with your wife's family too much.



My computer is in the living room, and it can irritate me a lot when my husband is in the kitchen, but he is in no way controlling, nosy, or invasive, so I mentally have to tell myself to stop tensing up. My husband is not like my mother, my grandmother, or any number of control-freak a**h*les with whom I've worked and spent time over the years.



Open communication of fundamental needs is vital. One thing for which I'm truly grateful is that my husband's family was respectful and non-invasive. Consequently, I LOVED my late in-laws and miss them dearly. This was something which I never would have thought possible. I dated other people--remarkable people--whose families were part of the package, and that was too much for me. The mere word, "family", make me sick.
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Re: Strategies for being alone (in a life filled with people)

Postby Dsptial » Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:05 pm

Cholls I'm sorry I was slow to acknowledge this. I'm grateful for your detailed post, just didn't have anything in particular to say in response.

I've negotiated with my kids to have a whiteboard on the study door. If I write an "exit by" time on there, the deal is that they won't interrupt me except in case of emergency, and I'll emerge sometime before the "exit by" time.We'll see how it goes. It does seem that the guarantee of not being disturbed makes the space and time feel more "alone". To the extent that it doesn't I think that's because I don't have enough experience to trust the guarantee yet.
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Re: Strategies for being alone (in a life filled with people)

Postby emillionth » Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:14 am

Strategies for being alone

My first and absolute rule when it comes to that is: "never ever have children ever". So... yeah, I can't contribute much on that. I think Cholls got a lot of it decently covered though. I really agree from personal experience with this part in particular:

Cholls wrote:The fact that I have no need to walk past his study door AT ALL when he's home means a lot to him. Hence, the location of your study--whether or not it is in a highly-trafficked area past which people walk--is important.


Dsptial wrote:1) What counts as being alone?

It depends on how tired and irritable I am (which depends in large part on how well I've been sleeping, which in turn depends in large part on how stressed I've been lately, so it's a feedback loop). Sometimes, simply not being demanded any action or response by the people around me is enough. That's rare though. Usually, even the simple awareness of an appointment in the near future can be enough to "break the immersion". I hate having any pending things whatsoever to deal with that I can't just get over with as soon as I'm reminded of them.

So I try to minimize those periods when I'll be aware of time-sensitive things that I can't get over with right away. It's better to squeeze as many of those time-sensitive things into a tiring but short period than to give myself weeks to be bothered by each of them. I instinctively tend to get more unrelated chores done that don't have a set timing the closer it gets to those time-specific things. That's good on one hand, but it can also easily drain me too much to deal with the time-specific thing that's been bothering me, which is really bad if I end up having to postpone it. So I try to be careful with that.

When it comes to recurring things that aren't exactly time-specific but are still time-sensitive (like, say, grocery shopping), I try to turn them into consistent habits so they're moved from the "conscious worry" area of my mind to the "automatic fact of life" area. "It's Tuesday, therefore XYZ". I don't need to think about it, I just know it. One of the things that this applies to is my regular "social interaction" (namely: visiting my parents). My daily levels of stress have improved dramatically with these consistent habits since I moved to my current place a couple years ago.

Rereading what I said above, most of it doesn't really seem related to "being alone" at first glance, but I guess my sense of being alone really is tied to a sense of not having to worry about forcing thoughts and considerations into or out of my very limited mental focus. This is the point where I think SPD and ADHD can overlap quite a bit.

2) Is it possible to increase feeling alone even when other people are nearby?

I guess part of the above applies here.

3) Are there good strategies for negotiating more time alone - particularly from family?

I guess part of the above applies again. Consistent, well-defined and clearly-stated habits and expectations (and consistent, well-defined and clearly-stated ways to introduce exceptions or change habits and expectations when necessary).
Is this now?
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