I watched my grandchildren playing outside the other day. We were midway through a 2-week stretch of 90-something-degree days, so their mother and I went to Toys R Us and bought 2 little plastic pools (one pink, one blue, of course) because sharing is to be avoided if possible, and a cute turtle sprinkler. We took them to my house and set them up in the backyard, the pools in the shade and the sprinkler in the middle of the yard.
Adaline is 5, an extrovert, and kind of a bossy older sister. Atticus is 3, an introvert, and a sweetie who loves his sister, but is slightly afraid of her, I think. They played together for a while, then Atticus wanted to play in his pool, alone. Adaline wanted him to play with her. This wasn’t going to end well.
She provoked him until he reacted. By that time, the pools were full of twigs and dirt that had stuck to their wet feet when they ran around the yard, so I suggested a bath and we went inside. Afterward, Atticus went in the living room and played with blocks and Adaline settled in on the den couch to talk with her mom and me.
I identify with Atticus. I’ve written before about being an introvert. I refill my spirit in solitude. I like to spend time with friends, one on one. Crowds overwhelm me. One of my daughters is an extrovert, as is her husband. Their spirits are refilled with others. They invite neighbors over for dinner and they have parties for no reason except to be with friends.
My problem, sometimes, is distinguishing between solitude (healthy) and isolation (not-so-healthy).
From a blog post by Carey Niewhof:
Solitude is good. It recharges the soul. It offers time for reflection, for prayer. And even when you’re alone, if you’re experiencing solitude, you are still connected. Solitude connects you to God, to yourself, and prepares you to be connected to others.
Isolation, on the other hand, is never replenishing. It can feel like solitude in the sense that you are alone, but isolation doesn’t connect you to anyone. Isolation does what the word suggests – it cuts you off, from God, from others, and sometimes even from yourself.
I’ve been isolating for the last month or so. My depression has flared up due to some ongoing medical issues. I’ve had no energy and no desire to do much of anything. I put away a basket of clean clothes yesterday that sat in my bedroom for days. And that was an accomplishment. I read a lot and I watch episodes of The Good Wife from the beginning on Hulu. I’m up to where Will got shot. Depression zaps my brain of creativity and imagination. I can’t write.
I’m trying this week to push through the inertia. I met with my doctor and talked about my anti-depressant. I have a therapy appointment next week. I did some volunteer work this week. And I’m having dinner with a friend this evening.
And I finally am writing again. While I write, I don’t feel isolated. I am connected to all of you in some spiritual way that is healing. My hope is that by continuing to share my ups and downs, I can help someone else feel less alone and isolated.