Health And Wellness

I Love Being Alone — But It’s A Trauma Response

Photo: Avelino Calvar Martinez / Shutterstock
woman alone

For me, wanting and needing ample alone time IS a trauma response. 

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Let’s unpack some of this before you come for me.

What is a trauma response — and why are we seeing every millennial talk about trauma all over TikTok? Let’s break some expensive dishes first and define what trauma is and isn’t.

Trauma isn’t what happened to you. Trauma is the way your body and mind try to reconcile and respond to what has happened to you. You may be thinking, “Well, what happened to me wasn’t that bad. Other people have had it much worse.”

And to that, I always respond with:

A person drowning in 2 feet of water is still just as much dead as a person who drowned in 6 feet of water.

Comparing traumas is like comparing your life to some influencer’s highlight reel on the gram. You don’t know half of it and it just makes you feel insignificant. It also isn’t real.

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Trauma response is how you have learned to respond to the trauma that has occurred in your life. The way each person responds varies and is highly dependent on how we learned to deal with our emotions in childhood. Think: fight, flight, and collapse. But with those fairly normal responses also other, more damaging responses as well. 

Here is a brief and basic list of trauma coping mechanisms:

Confusion
Sleepiness
Depression
Anxiety
Anger
Spinning stories in your mind
Irrational thoughts
Self doubt/self deprecation/self sabotage

The list goes on and on.

Now that we have laid those out, we can talk about needing alone time.

Alone time is crucial for recharging our batteries, thinking, processing, releasing others’ energies, self-development work, sleeping, masturbating, and countless other "alone time" tasks. 

Alone time is when we can work on ourselves, dissect and process our emotions, and learn how to be better humans. Alone time and space are vital for healthy relationships, a powerful mind, and a strong body.

Alone time is critical. Feeling like you can never get enough and then (often subconsciously) creating negative situations that give you alone time is a trauma response.

When your nervous system does its little dance over and over again between safety, fight/flight, and shutdown, it can often get stuck in that shutdown place. It's the collapse station of, “I can’t get enough sleep. I can’t get any downtime. I can’t relax.”

It's the place where you need rest, alone time, and a padded room is your body’s way of trying to protect you from whatever danger it perceives in your environment.  Whether that danger is actually real (a bear, a tiger, or a crazy ex with a knife) is dependent on who you are and your past triggers. The nervous system learns perceived dangers.

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Too much danger (which can easily be overeating or watching your kids fight to the death) can lead to collapse. And then you find yourself craving more alone time — and therefore, creating situations where (surprise, surprise!) you get to be alone.

Whether it's because he broke up with you, you lost the job, you failed at your project, your kids are just “too much”, etc. — it’s the cortisol that’s running through your hot little body that your body becomes addicted to.

If you find yourself constantly exhausted and feeling like you can’t recharge those batteries, something deeper is happening.

Craving alone time may, in fact, be a "you" problem, not him/her/they/it problem. It’s a nervous system problem.

Once you acknowledge that something deeper is happening, it creates awareness about the trigger, trauma, and response. Then you can safely help your body move into a place of safety. Here are some ways I have helped my body find safety amidst the storm and subsequent shutdown:

Showers
Walks
Music
Journaling
Talking to my partner openly
Reading
Service (helping others)

It can feel like a slow crawl at times, but creating that initial awareness about the root issue of why you need alone time is the key. It’s what will unlock new ways of healing and dealing with your trauma, so you can stop sleeping your life away and start creating the life you desire.

Danna Yahav is an author, writer, and coach. You can find her on Instagram @this.is.Danna

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This article was originally published at Medium . Reprinted with permission from the author.