Category Archives: stress

Solitary Contentment

Do I enjoy alone time? Absolutely! I always have. I can remember as a young child, sitting in my room, listening to albums & playing paper dolls for hours on end. On some days, the only reason I left my room was to eat. Truth be told, If I had been blessed with a real working kitchen in my room (at least with a microwave, fridge, and pantry), my mom and dad probably would’ve entirely forgotten me!

While mom was busy taking care of my dad, I was busy amusing myself. Not that she didn’t do her part of the raising, but the ‘entertaining’ part was up to me, especially after dad’s kidneys failed.

As only children, most of us learn at a young age how to self-entertain, self-console, maybe even become self-aware, and have a strong sense of self-love. Maybe that’s why we (as a species;) come across as so self-absorbed. In reality, most onlies that I know are actually so self-aware that we can become rather lost in our own thoughts and appear to not care what others are feeling or thinking at all. BUT also in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of us truly want to understand others, but we’re too afraid of putting ourselves out there, which is really what it takes to form healthy relationships.

As onlies, we don’t always know how to relate to others or how to reach out and ask others for help. When we feel as though our worlds are crumbling, many of us turn inward, to the only person we can fully rely upon; ourselves. That’s not to say that people with siblings aren’t the same way at times, but I would say that onlies have nailed the whole solitary confinement thing….to a fault.

I remember when my boyfriend (also an only) and I started dating. We fervently read every article and blog we could find on ‘only’ couples… ‘only’ to find discouragement and disappointment. Most opinions and stories erred on the side of either ‘don’t do it’ or ‘it never works out’. After almost two years together, I think we would both agree that this is not true. Like any other relationship between any two people, effort has to be made, people cannot take one another for granted, and compromise and full communication should be practiced daily.

In fact, I would say that the most difficult factor in an only dating an only is that we are so fiercely wired to turn inward when we don’t know how to react to an emotion that we choose instead to bottle up the hurt. While my boyfriend and I rarely fight, I can honestly say that any and all of the disagreements we’ve had have resulted from one thing; a lack of communication.

Lesson… in progress…

Still, communication takes lots and lots of effort from both people. Leaning on each other when we’re accustomed to sucking it up solo is the first step. While that feels a bit awkward and out of our neat little boxes, it’s not nearly as uncomfortable as I had expected. I think this is monumental and essential for all couples, but especially for relationships involving two onlies.

While one only can understand another only better than anyone, we also tend to have the same passive aggressive tendencies, and let things go on far longer than we should. It’s far easier and less confrontational to shove those small disagreements under a rug than to sweep them out into the open and work through the kinks. Unfortunately, as we all know, if you gather enough small things together they collectively become a very huge thing. That huge conflict under the rug becomes a major obstacle over which neither of us can avoid tripping.  And because we really ARE two separate people, with two separate pasts and two separate loads of dirty laundry baggage, we’re not always going to completely understand. And that’s okay.

We all come at these relationships with our own muddled perceptions, and whether we’re onlies or otherwise, it takes oodles of communication, effort, and determination to build a strong healthy relationship. But above and beyond everything else that takes effort in this world, love is worth every last bit of blood, sweat, and tears. After all, we may have come into this world alone, but that doesn’t mean we’re supposed to live a lonely life. Like my good friend Michelle always says (and I couldn’t agree more), there really is a ‘lid for every pot’.

Wandering Minds Want to Grow

Stress. It has its appeal. We get all worked up over work, over disgruntled employees, dissatisfied customers, the overflowing inbox, flaky technology, unpaid bills, and all the what-ifs that come with day-to-day possibilities. Stress is always there. Sometimes we’re just too darn busy to recognize its grasp. Until one day we aren’t too busy. That’s when stress tries to crawl in bed with us, wrap us up in its misery, and suffocate us with our own dark thoughts. That’s when we notice it, when it should be gone, because we thought we weeded it out of our overcrowded gardens.

That’s how it begins. We recognize what we look like, all draped in stress, and start undressing. First we shed ourselves of the things we believe are slowly killing us. Maybe we end a relationship, or quit a stressful job. Maybe we begin taking better care of ourselves, get ourselves on the healing track. We start feeling better, losing the weight of burden & worry. Life starts looking better. We start looking better. We become leaner, more confident versions of ourselves. We bring on peace, and filter out stress until we almost don’t recognize ourselves. Life is good. We feel amazing.

For a while, we forget that we were ever stressed – maybe for a day, or a week. We are grateful to ourselves for taking action, for leaving that stress in a pile in the corner of our minds. But it gets too quiet. And like parents of a toddler, we begin to question the silence. What trouble is lurking in there? It’s too quiet! We don’t voluntarily go there, but the second our guards go down, our minds wander off into that forbidden corner.

Staying positive, keeping stress at bay, and keeping up our sunny dispositions…these are not easy tasks. Everything in life will not always be sunshine and roses ALL the time, even without so much stress. Like anything else wonderful in our ives – friendships, marriage, relationships – it takes diligence and determination, but maybe even more importantly, it takes having a plan. Sometimes staying positive even takes the support of friends and loved ones. Maybe especially for those of us who think we can do it all by ourselves. That’s okay. That’s more than okay. That’s called being human.

So go ahead. Undress the stress. Find that peace beneath. Then….fight like crazy to keep it. Peace looks beautiful on you.