We can change this world with words like "love" and "freedom."

Write about a time in your life when you’ve had to contract–to retreat from the world in order to feel your feelings. How did the people in your life support (or not support) your need for quiet, healing time? Do you criticize yourself for needing such time?

After a period of contraction, do you find your expansion to be more noticeable?

As an introvert, I have to retreat from the world on a regular basis to feel my feelings. It almost has to become part of a daily routine for me to step back, be alone with my thoughts and feelings, and do what I need to do to take care of myself. It’s sometimes quite difficult for my partner to understand this, since she is an extrovert and thrives on spending time with others and being on the go. Sometimes, to avoid conflict, I stay up late to do my blog writing and processing of whatever events, thoughts, or feelings I need to deal with so that I can take care of myself and do my best to be present for her the way she needs me to.

But I don’t do it perfectly. Sometimes I find I need some “down time” when we’re sitting and watching a TV show I’m not into. I gravitate toward Facebook just to read a post or two from a friend or to read comments/discussion about the TV show to give me something to talk about.  I don’t mean to zone out, but the next thing I know, my partner is calling me back to attention. And I’ve failed to do exactly the thing I wanted to do most–be there for the person I love most.

I don’t criticize myself for needing the quiet, healing time; but I do criticize myself for not being able to find a way to get that time when I need it without failing to be present for someone I care about.

After a period of contraction, I don’t necessarily find my expansion to be more noticeable. But I usually enjoy it more, and I’m more grateful for the time I have with my partner. I can be more fully present and aware and loving. I can enjoy whatever I’m doing. I guess that’s what it’s all about anyway, so I need to work on that even more.

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