I am an introvert. I get my energy, my peace, from being alone.
I lived in two different apartments in Chicago for four years. I lived in those apartments alone. I loved it. I loved that there were weekends when I didn’t speak to anyone at all, save the cashier at the grocery store on the corner.
I liked my solitude and enjoyed my aloneness. I don’t think I ever felt lonely.
But I did, after four years of being alone, move closer to home (Okay, I moved HOME) because I knew something was missing in my life.
It wasn’t people so much as a sense of belonging that I missed.
Yes, I had friends and I visited those friends fairly often.
But I was always sort of on the outside looking in on those friends. I know they loved me and they were always great about including me but I was always the extra in our groups.
Even at home with my family I was the extra one. And mostly, I was okay with that.
I knew I wanted more, though. I wanted to belong, I wanted to find something into which I fit. I wanted to connect. I wanted to find a way to not cringe when I saw people hugging, to not flinch when someone stepped too close to me. I wanted to connect with someone to the point that I wanted them to hug me, to stand close enough to touch me.
I went on a lot of first dates my first two years back in the area where I grew up. There were very few second dates. That connection, it was elusive.
But then I met Tom and on our first date, a connection was made. There was a third date, then a fourth and then we lost count of the dates and he and I became us. I met his older kids, I even met his ex-wife.
I met his siblings and he met my parents and my siblings.
Then we had Alyssa and got married. Yes, in that order.
A few years later, we have Olivia and here we are, all connected.
I am not longer the extra in a group. I’m the mom, the wife. I’m part of the glue that makes us a family. They’re all happy to see me when I get home and I’m so, so happy to see them.
I have children laying on me for hours at a time, every single day.
I have a husband who hugs me tight every morning before I leave for work and I never, ever cringe or flinch when one of them steps close.
There are moments when I wish for ten minutes in the bathroom alone but I know that 9:30 will roll around each night and they’ll all be asleep and I can do whatever I want to wallow in a bit of solitude. And it’s enough because for them, these three people to whom I’m connected? I’d even give that up if it made them happy. That’s how amazing our connection is.
That’s how lucky I am to have each of them.