I’ve been away on holiday. Just me. I have a husband and two children, all adorable, all wonderful, but I left them behind for four days on my own.
It was bliss.
I’ve had a rotten couple of months. One small crisis after another had left me feeling pretty battered and bruised, and my normal joie de vivre was…well…morte. Or mort. Whichever. Anyway, I wasn’t feeling like myself. I had that wobbly middle that you get when you’re really, really tired but it’s not just tiredness, it’s a kind of weary exhaustion that dogs you and pulls you down. In short, I was mildly depressed – which surprised me, because I’ve never had it before. But once I realised, it was quite obvious. I had Had Enough. Not of life, but of People. Demands. Responsibilities.
And so I went away for a bit. To the seaside…
I love the sea, always have. I don’t know why. I didn’t grow up by the sea, but somehow I find it very reassuring, very calming. The sea is always on the move; always changing, and has a raw power that I find exhilarating too. It can be hard to quieten your brain when it’s chuntering away, but when you sit and look at the sea, it’s kind of hypnotic and you find that you can manage to think about not much at all.
I didn’t do much either. I went to an aquarium one morning and looked at the fish. I like looking at fish.
And I read all the information labels next to the tanks, which may not sound very exciting, but when you’re used to being dragged through museums by two eager children, you never get a chance to read anything, and so you’re constantly saying, ‘Oh – but hang on, I just -‘ and then having to run after the smallest child who has fitted themselves into the tiny gap between the bin and the wall and comes out beaming, covered in goodness-knows-what and shouting, ‘BOO!’
I spent a long time one afternoon looking for shells on the beach too. I pretended to myself that I was collecting them for my six-year-old, but actually I just like collecting shells. And I could spend as long as I liked doing it.
I had lunch on the beach too.
And when it got dark, I went out onto the beach to count the stars.
I read three books and wrote two songs and got blisters from practising the ukulele (I can do six whole chords!). And I slept a bit and watched TV a bit and walked along the prom. And did lots of thinking and feeling. Because Real Life often makes you put your thoughts and feelings aside, and it’s good to be able to take them out and look at them every now and then, even if you then decide to put them away again.
Some people don’t like being on their own, but I love it. It helps me recharge. Find strength in the wobbly middle. And I do feel better for it. I don’t think I’m quite back to ‘normal’ yet, whatever that may be, but I’m a lot closer to it than I was this time last week.
We hear a lot about ‘me time’ but I wonder how many people actually get a chance to have it? Or how many people would recognise that it was what they needed? I’m so very lucky to have friends and family that completely understood what I needed and didn’t mind my disappearing for a few days. ‘Hello!’ I said, as I saw everyone again on Sunday. ‘I’m back!’
And I think I am.