At some point in my early adulthood, I found it far more enjoyable to partake in something for the first time when it was in the company of another – not only as an introduction but a time stamp in the relationship.
However, this habit eventually became a reinforcement (and testament) of a worldview that didn’t leave room for feelings of inherent value. I would deny myself any form of pleasure unless I was with another person1. It’s like I needed someone to validate those experiences, and didn’t know how to give myself permission to enjoy them otherwise.
One might have believed that many painful years alone would give me the chance to develop a better sense of self-compassion, but a career has a way of concealing such inadequacies. That’s why I had as much growing to do as Heather did, even though I was the one to initiate the healing separation. Three months would certainly be far too long for me to tide myself over with chores or mindless busywork. An aversion to idleness would inevitably lead me to find ways of occupying my time in a more meaningful way, and I would be responsible to no one but myself.
Spending some time in exile also seemed like an effective way for me to learn how to prioritize myself, to figure out my wants and needs, to discover who I truly am when the mask is down2. Unfortunately, it wasn’t practical for either of us to live apart, even though a complete break would have given me a better chance to heal. As Heather was still working from home3, I spent whole days with the office with the door closed and made it my goal to pass the time in enjoyable ways.