Alone, I discovered me. I learned to treasure solitude. I’ve never understood others who do not.

My husband flew to California in July to see his Dad and sister. I had intended to go with him, but I changed my mind. A few days before he was to leave, I decided to stay home. I told Rob, “I need some time alone.”

No problem, he said.

Every woman should have a husband that replies ‘no problem,’ when she shares her need to have a few days to herself.

Since March, like everyone else, Rob and I have been together. We share an office, though I do most of my work at the dining room table. Our evenings are spent together, and though I suspect Rob would rather not fall into a television watching routine, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.

We’ve completed “The Wire” series (excellent) and are now on The Sopranos (also excellent). We’ve watched old movies including “The Birds” and “Them” and some excellent contemporary films, like “Just Mercy.”

The end of the day is most problematic for me. My anxiety sets up house, my brain needs a rest, and I want to be entertained. Sometimes all I can do to self-soothe is light my candles and take a bath.

So Rob visited his family and I remained home. Alone, I immersed myself in photography documentaries, lens experimentation, and no set schedule for meals. I took up the entire bed and enjoyed not speaking aside from when he and I touched base in the evening.

Last year I headed to Waterville Valley, New Hampshire for a few days before spending time with my daughters outside of Boston. The plan had been to visit with a friend, but at the last minute, she couldn’t come so I was on my own in the beautiful White Mountains. I walked in the woods, read, made myself tuna and spaghetti and then walked some more. I opened the windows wide at night so I could fall asleep to the current of the Mad River.

A gift.

Female friends confide, “I need time alone.” And often, right after they say that, they try to explain why. No explanation is needed, I say. Just go. Take time.

No matter how beautiful a partnership or marriage, we all need alone time.

Before the pandemic, social engagements, work outside the home, and the occasional business trip were normal. Now, households share everything.

Alone time is an opportunity to turn inward, to ask yourself, “what do I want right now,” without considering the needs of anyone else or to try something new without anyone watching.

As a child, some of my favorite moments were spent playing with paper dolls on the stairs or nurturing my dolls in their cribs. I have memories of a magical outdoor fort created from the weight of a crisp snow on the shrubbery branches. Hours were spent alongside a puddle or brook while spending the summer in Colorado where I constructed entire cities in the dirt. Playing alone, I was happiest. My pretend world, a world I inhabited with pretend people living in pretend houses was not something I longed to share with a playmate.

Alone, I discovered me. I learned to treasure solitude. I’ve never understood others who do not.

Most of us have given much time to careers, families, partners, children, our communities. We are quick to give love, comfort, guidance, and support to those we love. Sometimes we forget to give the same thing to ourselves.

The world is crazy challenging right now. There is no pretending that will make those challenges disappear. No walk in the woods, long drive along the coast, or afternoon spent on the couch watching documentaries will make that go away.

But. Time alone provides a break. Some space to devote entirely to ourself. To focus only on ourself.

Rob was on a long bike ride a week or so ago and I asked Siri to play Beyoncé. I turned that volume up and enjoyed some dance moves that will never be seen on any dance floor.  I sang at the top of my lungs. My spirit lifted.

Time alone helps me find myself. The universe might be chaotic, but I need to find my foundation. The center may not hold, but that doesn’t stop me from seeking it.

I am all I have. You are all you have.

Be there for yourself.