The art of solitude

Joey Garcia

I refuse to join my boyfriend on vacation anymore and for good reason. I always plan for us to stay in a hotel or, if we’re visiting my parents, the separate cottage on their property. He likes staying with family or friends in their homes. It’s not relaxing for me to stay in someone else’s home. My boyfriend doesn’t understand. No matter how I explain, he turns it into an argument about me being high maintenance. He always apologizes afterward, but we have the same argument every year. Please help.

Your definition of “high maintenance” doesn’t match your man’s way of thinking about that label. To him, the ability to blend into the rhythm of someone else’s household epitomizes an easygoing personality. For you, relaxation means enjoying personal space without worrying about being in sync with a host. Don’t fret over your preference. There’s nothing wrong with securing a room of your own outside a family or friend’s house. You’re not extra.

The next time you plan a trip with your man and he calls you “high maintenance,” agree. Like this: “You’re right. I’m high maintenance according to your definition. Would you be willing to listen to what high maintenance means to me?” If he says “no” because he’s angry, just nod and tell him to let you know when he’s ready. Then take an hour or so away from each other. When you get back together for a convo, be sure to also discuss whether you would each prefer taking separate vacations instead of trying to compromise.

My roommates were away last weekend and I just wanted to veg so I didn’t answer the phone when my mom called. Well, after leaving two messages she called all of my friends and told them she couldn’t get hold of me. My phone blew up. I was so pissed and then, this—how did my mom get all of their numbers? When I confronted her she admitted that she figured out my cellphone password, checked my phone the last time I visited and kept some numbers. She thinks this is completely OK. I don’t. I pay my own phone bill and a lot of my school expenses. It’s not like I’m totally beholden to her, but she thinks I owe her. Do I? If she helps me with tuition, am I expected to pick up the phone every time she calls? I can’t have a quiet uninterrupted weekend alone?

Peel back a controlling parent and you’ll find an adult desperately trying to justify their internal fear-based operating system. Keep that in mind when dealing with your mother. It will help you to realize why she does what she does. She may have intuitively felt your independence and overreacted emotionally, believing it meant she was literally losing you. Instead, you were savoring solitude, an essential experience for healthy maturation. So no, you don’t owe her weekly calls. But for safety’s sake, it is sweet to let someone know what’s up before you go off the grid. Pick a friend you trust and tell that person where you’ll be, for how long and how to reach you in an emergency. Let your mom call only that friend in an emergency or the threat of an imminent zombie attack, whichever happens first.

Meditation of the week
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” Pablo Picasso said. What are you being baptized into today?

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