When the tide is out, so am I. I become a recluse; a hermit. I can hole myself up in my home for every moment not responsible to something or someone else. I cook comfort foods. I consume books like a starving fiend. I gorge myself on missed television shows, long-released music, and other facets of pop culture. I burn through magazine back issues and stay up into the wee hours of the night to feed my hungry mind with anything and everything-- truly nourishing or pure junk-- the Internet has to offer... or wherever my mouse clicks may lead. I become a sponge to all that interests me and simultaneously become absorbed into the overwhelming abundance of it all. I am healing, cleansing, resting,... and learning. And I am happy.
I admit to missing out on things as well. For when the tide is out, my boat cannot reach the shore; I am more often than not without human interaction. By choice. I have no one to blame but myself (and I flinch to even call it "blame", at that). While I selectively choose to pull away from those around me, there is still a part of me that misses it, but the longing to have time to myself takes precedence. So, I indulge.
That's not to say I am so recluse that I completely ignore absolutely everything around me. I just weigh everything I am presented with against the "me" time I want and-- ultimately-- need. I make the obvious concessions, but when the tide is out, I am on the sea...
I tend to be more focused during these times. There's a funny Seinfeld episode where George is dating a woman who believes she has contracted Mono and therefore forbids them to engage in sexual relations of any sort until she gets tested (and cured). So, while George is initially reluctant to the idea, he finally submits to the temporary chastity of his situation and once he finally does, he discovers that his mind is more focused. Apparently, without the stress of trying to get laid, George isn't so addle-brained. He becomes engaged in mathematics, the sciences, logical thinking,... everything just becomes easier for him. At one point, he even denies the sex he is offered because he believes he has so much more to offer the world when he puts his mind to such good use. Of course, once he finally has sex again he becomes his normal, silly, insecure little self. It's a definite extreme, but still quite hilarious. My point is this: once you draw away from the stress(es) in your life, you really get to focus on yourself. And it's a wonderfully enriching experience, I have to say!
Still, there is a cycle. The tide comes in and brings my boat to shore. (Or is it a yacht? Who am I kidding?? It's probably a rickety ol' thing! But, I digress...) During this time I am the extrovert. I'm out and about. I'm spending money. I'm on the stage. I try strange, new foods. I couldn't care less about tv, my library once again collects dust, the fridge is hardly even stocked-- but hey, I'm at least saving money on the electric bill! I'm hangin' with friends, visiting with family,... you know: makin' the rounds. I immerse myself so much in the experiences life has to offer outside of my small living space that sometimes I even find I'm eating less (to no detriment of health). It's almost as if when the tide is out I am re-fueling, so to speak; when the tide comes back in it's time to burn off all that oil. And, again, I am happy.
I admit: I am currently out to sea. I have been for quite some time, actually. This expedition has been exceedingly long, but it's also been a necessary voyage. And while the majority of me knows that fact, there is still a part of me that needs a little more time before I come to port again. But it's a small part of me... and I can feel it getting smaller.
We all need time to ourselves. The problem is most of us do not take that time. I get it; it's difficult to set aside (what you think is) your life to just "do you". Work, bills, insurance, money, savings, the car, the kids, the pets... it goes on, doesn't it? Hell, sometimes it feels like it never seems to end! But every once in a while, you really do just gotta get out on the ocean and sail away, even if just for a couple minutes. It really can be your life raft!