I have an almost overwhelming urge to make chocolate-chip cookies. They are my favorite cookie, and one of my very favorite dessert foods. The recipe I use is stored in my brain. It’s a task that takes no more than 15-20 minutes. Making this dough is an uncomplicated process.
I cannot make chocolate-chip cookies, and it’s killing me.
I am an introvert, which may not come as a surprise to people who read my blog, and probably isn’t a revelation for anyone who knows me really well. And when I say introvert, in this instance I am talking about the the way I recharge. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, has a quote that about sums it up for me – “Solitude matters, and for some people it is the air that they breathe.”
We’ve had a house guest since the beginning of April. Our house is not huge, but obviously it can accommodate three people, and more if needed. The problem is that we’ve had a house guest since the beginning of April.
I would say that one of my best female friends is more of an introvert, and the other an extrovert. My husband is more on the extrovert scale, and my other best male friend is way opposite me on this scale. Which makes for an interesting friendship, but I think introverts need extroverts, and vice versa. Again, what I’m talking about here is how people like to regain their energy.
I never understood people that cannot be alone. We all know them, or perhaps one of you reading this is one. There are people I know who absolutely cannot stand to be alone. They feel bored, restless, and unhappy. I always felt bad for this person, feeling that they just don’t know How to be by themselves. But thinking about it in terms of energy, I can see how this might be an unfair assessment, although I think taking time for solitude is something everyone should embrace, even if it’s only a short amount of time.
There are activities I like to do when I’m alone. Minds out of gutters, people 😀 Dishes, for example. I really don’t mind doing the dishes. I like cleaning. I love using a broom. I love doing renovation work on our home. I Love to bake, especially the aforementioned cookies, and I write. All of these things hinge on being by myself. The weird exception to this is my husband. He’s the only person I can be around and still do all of these things, even if I would prefer not doing them while he’s home. Thus enters my quandary of late.
Our house guest is a relative, and for reasons I’m not going into, I understand that this person needed to be out of their own home for a little bit of time, however, not for this length of time. The extra icing on the problem cupcake is that this person really has no clue that I’m an introvert. The only time I’m alone is when I’m in the car by myself, and that is no place to relax. There’s always this person in my house. I can feel it in the air. I am an introvert who hasn’t been by herself in almost two whole months. I tiptoe around and hide my vast unhappiness. My husband tells me that I don’t need to stop doing the things I love, but he knows how incapable I am of breaking past this invisible barrier. Our relative isn’t rude or mean, isn’t trying to be in the way of our lives, and would not care in the slightest if I go about the house stripping paint or sanding the doorways.
I care so much that I’ve pretty much stopped doing all of these things, and when I do my cleaning now, which isn’t something you can put off, I’m angry about it. We have been spending a lot of time in the yard lately, which is nice. A literal breath of fresh air. I like getting my hands dirty, and my husband enjoys working in the yard much more that I thought he would. I have to say, as he’s the only person in the house I communicate everything to, putting up with my immense feelings of being uncomfortable and unhappy daily makes him eligible for sainthood. We’ve spent a lot more time since April being out of the house, which is also draining to me. Work has been extra stressful lately, which isn’t helping. My work environment is busy and loud, and full of people. No one should ever be happy to be alone in a public restroom, but sometimes I breathe a sigh of relief when I get a chance to step into the restroom at work. Unfortunately, bathroom breaks are an extremely short-lived respite from the world. The other really sucky thing about this situation is being a married couple with someone else staying a super short distance down the hall.
Beside the housework, my writing has stalled. My stress levels continue to stay high, even if I’m not outwardly showing it, which means I can’t write. I’m stunted in my ability to put fingers to keys, or pen to paper, and have anything creative flow out of me. I feel awful. My May Stories stopped, like a car hitting wall. The novel editing I was doing back in February and March has fallen by the wayside. I don’t even open my writing files because there is no point. I already know my creative limitations when it comes to living in high stress for prolonged periods. The same thing used to happen when I played piano. My younger self would try to submit to the urge to play, try to push through the times when I felt aggravated or stressed or angry, but the music would not sound the same. I learned how my creativity suffers at the hands of mental unhappiness.
Our house guest isn’t going to be here too much longer. Things are getting back to where they need to be concerning this person’s own home, and I have an actual vacation coming up in June, with actual planned visitor/s. Now, one might think that trading in a long-term, unplanned relative for vacationing visitors would be more than I could handle, but I’m much looking forward to having the out-of-towners. People that know me well.
Besides the writing and housework, the thing that really gets me is those damn cookies. I rarely make chocolate-chip cookies with people in the house. Not the baking part. I love to grab the container out of the fridge once the dough is made and drop spoonfuls of heaven onto a baking sheet and 11ish minutes later share the warm, chewy goodness that is dessert perfection with everyone. But the making of them is sacred to me. I don’t make them often. Over the last several years, this cookie has become the thing I make when I get super stressed. It takes it away, and I feel unburdened afterwards.
For now, I’ll continue to go about my days looking normal, while deep inside, I’ll crave tiny bits of semi-sweet morsels, and dough in various stages. Oh, and if someone could do something about all the characters in my head who are indignant about my temporary abandonment of them, that’d be great. Maybe they’d like a cookie.