solitude vs. isolation

is there a difference?

solitude is something i long for, the noise in my head has been so loud on and off for the past few weeks. i was at a place this morning, after a difficult conversation with the hub, where i was on my back porch and i felt as though i had no place to escape to. i wanted to flee, but then i wanted to go back into the house to comfort he who i have not been comforting, but have been causing great pain to.

i don't feel like engaging right now. i feel withdrawn and wish to isolate, but is it solitude i seek? is there really much of a difference?

solitude sounds so transcendent, so ethereal, so literary.

isolation has a negative connotation, as though you are withdrawing into yourself (or a room, curled into the fetal position). draw the shades, shut off the phone, ignore the incessant knocking at the door.

"but i am in solitude!!"

it's all about our motives, right? what is my motive for seeking quiet? what is my motive for not wanting to engage or talk to anyone? is it to seek God's face, beseech Him for the answers that don't seem to be coming quickly enough and earnestly desiring the quiet so i can hear His still, small voice? be in prayer and contemplation at various times during this solitude, perhaps writing with pen and ink and keeping watch by candles, having all electronics turned off, nobody around and only the pets to feed. me and my God.

or is it because i am overwhelmed and don't wish to be bothered by anyone -- no phones, no text messages, no voice mails, no crises -- because i am afflicted by my own thoughts, my actions?

as a recovering alcoholic, i am pretty certain my sponsor would ask, "who have you helped today?" i would suggest it myself, and i really do realize the quickest route out of one's self is usually via helping another. however, there are some instances where there doesn't seem to be the motivation to do more than the easiest of things: "left foot, right foot, breathe." sometimes the best help i can offer is by remaining quiet, trying not to harm by utilizing restraint of pen and tongue as well as doing the next thing in front of me.

[some days are like that.]

however, when the desire for isolation solitude stretches into days in/days out/weeks or seem to be adding up, there may be more to the solitude vs. isolation question than a simple lesson in semantics.

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