Thanks to a faithful commenter, I was reminded that I have not yet posted about my silent retreat last weekend. It's hard to believe that it's been more than a week since I was there. In a way, I did post about it, I guess, because my church-related post came out of the time I had to think that weekend. But I have intended to make a few specific comments about my retreat, so here goes.
My 24-hour silent retreat Sat-Sun was, overall, great, and I am already looking forward to going back next month, mostly for two reasons: the silence was truly golden; and I had time to think.
Way back when, during my university years, I had three occasions (and once since) to self-administer a Myers-Briggs assessment, and in every case, my score on the introversion/extroversion scale was pretty much right on the line between them. That's pretty true to my own experience. I value and draw energy from being with people pretty much about the same amount as I value and draw energy from spending time by myself. I need both ends of the continuum, and on a regular basis. My hours away from home last week were really and truly hours that I needed on the introversion spectrum - I was craving time by myself to get re-charged, and needing time when my schedule was my own and uninterrupted by the pitter patter of little feet or the sound of another question or outburst or tantrum.
In that sense, my retreat was lovely. I did spend a lot of time in silence...I said only a few words to the staff who worked there. I skipped Saturday lunch in favour of staying in my room, and munched on popcorn I'd brought with me...while sitting in bed, thinking. I watched (also in bed) one of my favourite movies/mini-series of all times: the four hour North and South, based on the book of the same name by Elizabeth Gaskell. I read a bit, both in bed and in that cozy chair I first posted from shortly after I arrived on Saturday, and amongst other things, read a chunk of a book about mothers developing effective habits for becoming happy mothers. I also wrote, I prayed, and I slept...a bit.
Sleep (or lack thereof) was the most disappointing aspect of my time away. I'm an insomniac at the best of times. And sadly, that Saturday night was one of those nights when it took forever to fall asleep. Something about the utter silence made it hard for me to keep at bay all of the things whirling through my mind - I felt overwhelmed, and even frightened, by the thoughts and feelings crashing around in there. It was similar, in a way, to how I used to experience going on a vacation: I'd get so overloaded in the weeks leading up to the actual vacation that by the time I was relaxing somewhere, my body would crash and I'd end up sick or I'd spend a whole lot of the vacation tense before starting to finally unwind. Anyway, I was quite overwhelmed that night away, and ultimately needed the distraction of North and South to distance myself a little from the load of stuff going on in the inside.
That experience told me pretty clearly, though, that I have a lot of stuff to process - which is probably one of the reasons for my depression in the weeks and months before Christmas. I'm doing so much better now, thankfully, but really want to deal with the stuff going on inside so that I don't go back to that dark place.
I didn't realize until we were away at Christmas, and in the weeks since, how low I'd really gotten last fall/early winter. Now, feeling so much better and having a bit of hindsight perspective, I can see how much impact my frame of mind has on my household on a day-to-day basis. The kids are doing great and are mostly getting along pretty well; the atmosphere seems to have lightened up around here generally; h/school's going well; and I'm not nearly as quick to get impatient or angry when something goes wrong. I feel a little more like myself these last three weeks and it's such a relief. It's amazing how quickly we/I can forget what it's like to be oneself, but I like this Ruth a whole lot better than the Ruth I was last year. It's almost scary to write this, but while I was away, I found myself thinking that my dreams for our family have finally come true.
Anyway, I'm so thankful for that short time away, and knowing that I will have another such opportunity next month feels like a tool in my back pocket - something to pull out and relish when times get a little rougher again.