Updated: Dec 27, 2021
Just in case you question that I’m not clicking into every feminist cliche in the manual, I am currently re-reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room Of One’s Own. As I do I find myself wishing for a room of my own and I realise I have a whole house. Ok, it’s not very big and it’s rented and I share it with my 7-year-old who takes up a lot of space for one so small - may she always. Still, I am a fairly solitary person and my ‘me time’ is not so much a treat as it is vital. Both to my well-being and my creativity.
Whilst Woolf’s theory is that every woman needs money and a room to call hers if she is to be a writer, the idea is that such things are needed if we are to have the best opportunity to come into ourselves. To grow, to think, to discover our inner selves.
Yet, in modern times though many women have such things it is the space we so desperately crave. Space and time. Which had morphed into the practice of self-care. A home, a room, money, does not necessarily gift us with time and space
I have, I think, a room of my own (in the theological sense) enough of the time if I prioritise using it. So, I wonder, what it that preserves this? For me, I suspect it’s being single.
As much as I’d love to meet someone, the key aspect that holds me back is that intrusion on my space. I don’t know if I am capable of surrendering the space that I've created for myself and I don’t know if there’s a way not to and still sustain a relationship. Is this the real challenge of partnership? That we must replace time spent alone with time spent together?
I’m a sociable creature. Yet, much of my learning, thinking, creativity, is done alone and if there's less time to do this then I might stifle my potential. It’s not that I don’t understand what a romantic relationship could add to my life. I do. Moreover, I accept that much of my fear is sprung from former unwise choices and a readiness to shrink myself (Alice-style) in order to fit into the structure of a relationship.
Sometimes, I’ll gaze across my lounge and imagine I had some pleasing face to smile at. Mostly though I worry about the expectation to nurture that relationship and please said pleasing face. There’s little doubt that this would intrude on times such as this where I can explore my weary contradictions and dangle a thread of thought like a string above a kitten, to see if anything gets caught.
To many, this fear that sharing space with someone else will steal space away from me seems selfish. Spoilt and brat-ish even. Yet, it’s rather that balance is beyond me. I give my all to whatever it is that enthrals me and so until I learn how to ‘have it all,’ it seems I have to choose. It would be unfair on anyone else, not to. I should add here that children don't count. It's not that they're not little space-stealers but has something to do, I suspect, with unconditional love. Not to mention, they go to bed earlier.
So, if 2021 has been about creating space for me then maybe 2022 can be about learning to occupy two spaces? One room for me and one room for whoever else may come along. Perhaps, I can master the art of drifting between these two spaces enough to serve myself and give enough of myself to somebody else.
Anyone written a book on that?