My wife always tells me she needs a lot of personal space–she likes time and focus to do “her thing.”
No one nagging, yapping, coming around, asking for things…just some quiet time for herself.
I can appreciate that–we all need time to think, be creative, take care of personal things, and pursue our own interests.
At the same time, people need other people.
When we are done doing our things, we need human interaction, attention, conversation, sharing, touch.
I saw a few things this week that really brought this home:
1) The Netflix show “Orange Is The New Black” about a young woman put in jail and how she handles all the challenges of being incarcerated with literally a cast of characters. But in one scene in particular, she is thrown in the SHU (Solitary Housing Unit) and within about a day, she is hearing voices and talking to someone that isn’t there. Alone, she crawls up into a ball–like a baby–craving someone to come, anyone.
2) Visiting the nursing home today, I saw many old people screaming for help. It is a really nice nursing home as far as they go, and the people apparently weren’t screaming because of mistreatment, but rather for attention–a human being to be there interacting with them. Interestingly, even when the old people are sitting together, they are still yelling in a sort of helpless anguish being alone, only calming down when a family, friend, or caretaker comes over to them, touches their hand or hugs them, asks about their wellbeing, and shows genuine human caring. Yes, they have real physical needs they call out for help for too, but I think even many of those calls for help–too many and too often to all be for actual needs–are just for someone to come around and pay them attention and be there with them.
3) I remember years ago, seeing some parents put their child to sleep at night. But the child wanted their parent to sit with them and comfort them while they drifted off to sleep. But this parent strictly followed the Dr. Spock guidance that you just let them cry it out, and boy did this little girl cry and cry and cry. I said to my wife, this is not the right way–it can’t be. And I myself always fought that the children should be held and comforted when they cried, not forced at such a tender young age to be alone and “self-sufficient.”
While people need time and space for themselves, even the biggest introvert among us needs other people.
In solitary, people can literally lose their mind–alone, scared, desperate, but solitary doesn’t have to be a prison, it can be an emotional and mental condition where people are craving even just a hug from someone who gives a damn.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Clover 1)