INNER RESOURCES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My mother used to tell me how important it is to have ‘inner resources.’ I nodded and agreed but never really understood what she meant. As a retired person, I finally get what she was talking about.

Coincidentally, my husband, Tom, always preached to me that I had to be comfortable living alone. I lived home during college and I spent a total of four months living alone during law school before I moved in with my first husband. That’s it for my entire life. After law school, I was married. Married with kids, divorced with kids, remarried with kids and now retired and married with no kids at home, just dogs.

I didn’t think that Tom’s mantra about being able to live alone, applied to my life.

Now I realize that my Mom’s ‘inner resources’ and Tom’s ‘living alone’ are really the same thing. While retired, I’m technically not alone, but for a good part of each day, Tom and I ‘do our own things.’ Tom loves video games and can play them for hours and hours. He also voraciously reads the news and watches news on TV for hours a day. He has projects around the house and on the boat. He has inner resources and can be alone. In other words, he has the ability to entertain himself, by himself for long periods of time, every day.

I don’t do video games though I watch a lot of Food Network and HGTV shows. I read the news but much less exhaustively than Tom. That leaves a lot of hours each day to be filled while Tom shoots bad guys and solves the problems of the world.

I used to be an avid reader so I could entertain myself endlessly with the books piled up on my nightstand. I always had a tower of books I wanted to read waiting patiently for me to get to them. I didn’t know it until I was recently diagnosed, but I have always had ADD. It has gotten worse since menopause, which is common. So now it’s hard for me to sit for hours and read. It’s hard for me to do anything for hours without getting up and walking around or doing something else for a while.

I’m often antsy.

The ADD medication worked wonderfully and I could sit still and read to my heart’s content. But the medication also kept me up till the wee hours of the morning and I had to stop it if I wanted to sleep normally again. I may go back to taking a pill once or twice a week, but I have other medical issues I have to square away first.

So now I’m left with hours and hours a day of unstructured time I can’t automatically fill with a good book. Writing blogs has occupied a lot of my time as has writing for and promoting my audio theater group.

There are still days that contain periods of ‘nothing to do’. That’s where the inner resources and being able to be alone come into play. I somehow manage to find things to do that don’t just kill time. I come up with projects around the house or errands to run or I spend extra time working with the dogs on their obedience training (sit, down, stay and come is as far as I’ve gotten so far). I text and call friends and stay in closer touch than I used to be able to and I read in short increments.

I actually enjoy days when I don’t have to leave the house. They are comforting in some ways and also prove to myself that I have what my mother worked so hard to instill in me – inner resources!

I’m comfortable with myself and happy in my own company. I can stay occupied by myself when I need to.

Thanks, Mom!

12 thoughts on “INNER RESOURCES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

    • My daughter lives in California yet feels very connected to me. So I guess you can technically be alone and still have rich and fulfilling relationships that keep you from ever feeling alone. Thank you, internet!

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  1. I never really lived alone until David went to the hospital. I lived at home with my family until I got married at twenty. Counting the months that David was in hospital before he died I’ve lived alone now for over four years. We always used to do our own thing for part of every day so I guess that made it easier to adjust to being alone. I’m not really what you would call a social person so for me it’s been more about making a conscious effort to go out and communicate with people rather than the other way round. I am always quite happy to come home to my pets and spend my free time alone.

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    • I’m not a very outgoing, social person either. I love being with people I know and like, it’s getting to that point with people that is difficult for me. So if I lived alone, I would have to work at making connections to people and would have to force myself to go out and do things on my own. I don’t think I would do very well. I hope I never have to.

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  2. I think if we didn’t manage to be emotionally on our own at least some of the time, we’d probably drive each other crazy! That we get along as well as we do is that we do our own things and there’s a lot of quiet time. It keeps us sane.

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    • Alone time when you live with someone is totally different than actually living alone. I’ve never lived alone for more than a few months so it would be a terribly difficult adjustment for me. On the other hand, I spend a lot of time alone when Tom is off doing things on his own. But I am conscious of the clock and I’m aware when he will come home, or upstairs from the basement. Knowing your alone time is limited is a different ballgame from living alone.

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      • Alone time with old movies and/or baseball works for me. And, I’m with Pancho/Tommy on the news that we must watch that also drives us bonkers.
        I love that line in “Rustler’s Rhapsody” when the hero complains, “I need some more ME time”.

        When Tommy and I were working TV newsies, we always had suits or their spies, breathing down our necks. Never any “alone” time, til we were LIVE – on the air. That spotlight — live camera to a vast number of viewers — in the middddle of red hot controversy –the loneliest place in the world

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