Finding new closeness and self-trust in a distanced world
Intimacy and Solitude was first published in 1991 to great acclaim; so much so that over the years it has been republished in 2002, 2014 and now in 2021, which has a considerable amount to say about the writings of Stephanie Dowrick and her understanding of the human psyche.
Over the past two years the ravages of the pandemic have wreaked havoc on personal relationships, families and in so many a loss of self-esteem. So much has changed in a very short space of time. Families have had to learn to get along together, a first in many instances, relationships have changed, collapsed, or gone on to become stronger. Change has and is occurring, and it is how we learn to care for ourselves, to manage that change is going to make the difference as to how the future forms.
Greif, uncertainty, and serious doubt about the future of the world as we used to know it, is in many people’s foremost consciousness, along with the very necessary requirement of planning to provide for family and self-going forward.
So much in Intimacy and Solitude forms the very basis of who we are and how we go forward with relationships, beginning with the most fundamental of all beginnings, learning to know who we are and how we care, or begin to learn to care about ourselves.
Dowrick spent many years gathering the material for the book, telling her findings in a style that is comfortable and in the form of almost a story, carefully updating the reprints over the years to keep information current. Perhaps overall, one of the most important findings Dowrick offers is the fact that Intimacy and Solitude go very well together.
She points out that even in the most closely knit relationships, the most important suspect of keeping both yourself and the relationship healthy is Solitude; the deep, almost primal need to spend time with self and only self.
Dowrick encourages us to learn self-acceptance, compassion for ourselves and others and in doing so discover a new world of opportunities and insights to be able to make lasting positive change.
Part one: Self: Is that who I am offers a wonderful little piece from Michael Leunig ‘Sitting on the Fence’ which captures the content of the book perfectly:
‘Come sit beside me’ I said to myself
And although it doesn’t make sense, I held my own hand as a small sign of trust
And together I sat on the fence.
Author Stephanie Dowrick
Publisher Allen & Unwin
Distributor Allen & Unwin
REVIEW BY JANET MAWDESLEY