This article is part of the Claudia Confidentially series.
Solitude and reflection are so important in keeping us balanced throughout life’s challenges, but it’s not always easy to create these moments.
I married late in life, and before I met my husband, my loneliness was so intense sometimes I would actually cry myself to sleep. I was so afraid, as I was pushing 40, that I wouldn’t be able to have kids. So when I finally met my husband, we started our family right away.
Soon after I gave birth to my second child, I had a very strange experience. I had been spending a lot of time with both girls and was feeling completely overwhelmed by their physical and emotional needs having to watch them every minute. A babysitter arrived and took them to the park, and in that moment of watching her put them in her car and drive away, I experienced the most delicious and all-encompassing sense of freedom and relief I have ever experienced. And I have never again enjoyed being alone so much as I did that day.
What I discovered that day was that my deepest enjoyment of solitude depended on having enough fullness in my life. Before that, my solitude had mostly put me in direct contact with unbearable emptiness – a deep well of loneliness I could not bear.
William Powers, who wrote Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream wrote about his empty well:
Inside each of us is a place of absolutely no connection to others. That place is like a bottomless open well. We try to shine floodlights into the well, fill it with toxic rubbish, or board it over with activity and routine. But if we don’t befriend the well - if we’re not strong in solitude - then on one level our relationships can be tinged with insecurity.
What makes it possible to bear our empty wells? Is it real community, deep relationships and feeling heard that can help us to befriend that bottomless, open well where we have no connection to others? How can we keep our solitude and self-reflection from descending into loneliness and insecurity?
I am keeping a journal to chart my feelings during the Conscious Cleanse, as a pact to stay connected to myself. And I am joining the Facebook community in search of a real feeling I can identify with and share. I plan to keep studying that balance between being in community and being able to befriend the well.
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If you haven't heard about the Conscious Cleanse to which Claudia is referring, it's not too late! Join us as we go through a 14-day clean eating and yoga challenge, and then join the Facebook group (we'll send you the link once you sign up) to meet others who are cleansing with you. Claudia will be helping us along the way with upcoming columns on how we tackle the emotional, psychological, and habitual aspects of our conscious selves.