I Want To Be Alone

The “North Pond Hermit” was arrested this year. He is Christopher Knight, a 47 year old man who went into the central Maine wilderness 27 years ago to live a solitary life.

He was arrested for stealing. Over the past 27 years, he committed more than 1,000 burglaries – breaking into camps and retreat centers during the night for food and supplies.

In 27 years, he only spoke once to another person.

The story fascinated me. On one hand, I’m impressed with his survival skills and ingenuity. But I also wonder on a scale of 1 to 10 how crazy someone has to be to live like this.

I’m curious how long I would last. I’m pretty sure where I’d break down first is in the camping department. I’d give up on being a hermit because I suck at camping. Being cold and hungry would drive me back into civilization by lunch time.

The alone part sounds kind of nice to me.

Not for 27 years—but I do want to be alone. In fact, I need to be alone.

I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel. ― Audrey Hepburn

Yesterday’s post “I Feel Alone” might have sounded like a complaint. It wasn’t meant to be one. I intended it to be a confession – I’m an odd duck and I wish people could understand me.

As an introvert, I am not “recharged” by being around people. I love people and I need people—AND being around people eventually taxes me. In order to recharge, I need solitude.

Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone. —Paul Tillich

The glory of being alone. I like that. A lot.

At the family dinner table, one of our common practices is to share our “best” and “worst” of the day. It’s a little embarrassing how often my “best” of the day is about having precious alone time – getting out on the trail by myself, having a few hours in the office before anyone else arrived, being left at home alone on my day off…

I’ve never once described a meeting as my “best” of the day.

Sometimes I feel selfish and guilty for wanting time alone. It can seem Lone Ranger-ish or aloof. But I’ve discovered something: Not only do I need time alone, the people in my life need me to have time alone. That’s right. I’m better for them when I am recharged, and I’m not very fun to be around when I’m drained.

The trail I spend lots of alone time on goes by water and fields and forests. When I’m out there, I feel like I’m inside the 23rd Psalm – He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul.

That’s what solitude does for me. It restores my soul.

With all the various distractions gone, I am able to hear His voice and sense His presence. I can rest and be still. It is healing and restoring.

I can be alone without being lonely. In fact, those times of solitude are necessary respite for a beleaguered soul, set upon by the pressures of life. I need to take whatever moments I can to just be still. ― Steve Goodier

WHAT ABOUT YOU: How is your soul restored?

This is part 2 of 3 posts this week. Check out yesterday’s “I Feel Alone” and come back tomorrow for “Between Alone & With

I am a husband, father, pastor, leader & reader. I love God, love people & love life.

12 Comments to I Want To Be Alone

  1. I find it extremely difficult to find alone time. I crave it but I feel so guilty leaving Jenn with our boys and taking time just for me. I know I have to do it but it’s hard.

    I miss my motorcycle for this reason. It was pure solitude. I couldn’t even answer my phone.

    I think I do find solitude when I write. I tune everything else out and just get lost in it. I find it extremely satisfying. I should probably get after it more often.

    Thanks for this series. It’s very thought provoking.

  2. Elaine Jones

    My last birthday I was turning 30 and having a bit of a tough time with it. All the expectations of what my life should’ve been like by that point was hard for me to deal with. When my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I replied, “I just want to be home alone for a day, without anyone here.” He was shocked at my response, that I didn’t want a certain gift or to do something specific, just to be home? When he pressed me about it, I said, “There are always people here. I never get to be here by myself.” The thing is, I work full-time, my mother-in-law, at that time, was watching our girls at our house and my husband was usually home as well.

    After having our girls I realized how much I need alone time. Not necessarily every day, but a few times a week, even for 15 minutes each time, gives me enough refreshment to be the person I want to be and to be able to present to others.

    I, too, have struggled with feeling guilty about asking my husband to stay with our girls so I could get out of the house for a bit. I have learned to do it, even if I feel guilty, reminding myself that him being with our girls is necessary. Not just for my refreshment, but for his relationship with them as well. And as I do it time and again, the guilt lessens a bit.

  3. I have always needed time alone. I was the teenager who would come home and lock myself in my room with a good book, my radio station and my journal – for HOURS. My Grandmas came to stay with me one year and thought there was something wrong with me, and told my mom so upon her return. My mom just replied, “oh that’s just the way she is – it’s nothing personal”. When I got married and we had Ashlee – Greg would recognize that I needed time alone and encourage me to go somewhere and he would watch the baby. I remember one funny time. I had been gone several hours and came home to Greg on the phone (hooked to a land line chord) and Ashlee completely naked bawling and crawling toward me. That was a snapshot into a little chaos upon my return from a lovely afternoon alone. Now I retreat to writing or taking a long walk. There are no children at home anymore and I’m not one of those “clingy” moms who are always calling. I don’t keep in touch very well with my own parents either – much to their dismay. Loners just don’t need that constant interaction with others. I have to force myself to do it. Introverts tend to have very few friends because of this. Lonely? Never. The Glory of being alone? Yes. Always.

    • Katie Jones

      I’m so glad to hear you admit that you don’t keep in contact with your parents as much as you should. It’s something I feel guilty over, but I don’t feel like there is that much to say.

  4. I don’t do well with alone time – in fact if I were to be completely honest, I kinda fear it.
    That must sound strange to you huh?!?

    It’s something I’ve had to work on over the years and truthfully, even running to the grocery store by myself is a big step for me.
    I’d rather go to Costco on a Saturday with all three of my kids in-tow than go by myself, because I don’t want to be alone. And that’s just plain crazy!

    More than anything, it has to do with me worrying about my family – fearing that I may lose them and that I will be alone. I’ve felt that before and I never want to experience that again, but I also know that I need to trust in God and His plans for my family.
    And I don’t want to become one of those crazy moms that won’t let my kids do anything or go anywhere because I’m afraid…

    So I work on it, and I pray about it.

    I do like to get up before everyone else in my family to spend some time reading my bible, I also write or spend time reading after the kids have gone to bed. Not necessarily alone time – but quiet time and that’s perfect for me. That’s how I refuel.

  5. I recharge by being “alone” with my family. Give me 2 days with my husband and daughter and I feel like I’ve been on a 3 week vacation. Don’t get me wrong I do like being all alone too. Saturday morning grocery shopping while the toddler’s at home with dad is a little taste of paradise, but I feel happiest and healthiest when I make time to just be, exist, not even have an agenda with those two.

  6. With two grown daughters still in the house, I crave both alone time for myself and we-time for my wife and me. Thankfully, we’ve learned some creative ways to make those things happen fairly consistently. What restores my soul? Playing music. Sitting down at my keyboard and pounding out some of my songs, or picking up my guitar and imagining I’m Eric Clapton, energize me like few other things can.

  7. I dont consider myself an introvert,but I understand the need to be alone….to recharge…to have uninterupted thoughts…..to center yourself….or for some jjust think about nothing..i have a place I go for my own solitude its close but faar enough away on the rriver where the sound of the rushing water and nature brings me to a muuch needed place …your not an odd duck to me

  8. I believe the reason you want be alone is the same reason I don’t want to be alone. If I’m alone I can no longer distract myself from my Heavenly Father. Lately our relationship has been strained, it’s like when I was younger and I went to visit my grandmother. I would feel awkward knowing I didn’t call her between visits, and the conversation would be surface-y for awhile even though I know she loves me and we can talk about anything. Small talk with God is comical really. So all that to say I desperately need alone time.

  9. Chris Bohannon

    I don’t have alone time to recharge honestly. When I have alone time I get the chance to actually feel emotions that I didn’t have in the moment during the day. For some reason I don’t feel certain emotions when I’m talking to people. When I’m alone I get to sit with the good and bad ones. I also learned because I have Borderline Personality Disorder that I need to take time to sit with my feelings and understand why I have them so that I don’t get absorbed by them. Having severe chest pain because I decided to ignore emotions wasn’t healthy for me. It reminds me that I just had a conversation with Micahn and April Carter and I didn’t feel the emotional effects until I had time to myself.

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