Introvert Paradise

I shouldn’t tell you this, you might get the wrong idea and suddenly rush out to hug all the introverts you know, just don’t do that. We are a prickly bunch at the best of the time. grouphugBut I will tell you a well-kept secret; even Introverts need human contact. Yes, there I said it, now don’t go running out and telling everyone you know to bother their introverted friends and family randomly.

Most introverts, unless they are at the far end of the spectrum, have learned to live in a society that expects their involvement. Some of us have even worked in careers where our participation is required and rewarded. Some of us have learned to engage; we have become Omniverts to survive a world that does not prize our nature and would ultimately savage us. From experience, I can tell you some of use learned so well we fooled even those closest to us into believing we were something we were not.

So now to this forced isolation, this pandemic of global proportions. Fear and loathing of strangers and friends thrust us into our homes and our small private worlds. They said, shelter in place, stay where we are, do not venture outside except for essentials. Initially, this was an Introvert’s Paradise! No more crowded spaces, no more strangers talking to us in lines, no more requests from friends for group hugs out to restaurants and bars; Paradise! No more excuses for why it was impossible. No more making nice with strangers. No more sitting in silence and sometimes tears pulling all the pieces of me back in place after to big of a crowd pulled me apart.

Have you guessed I am talking about myself?

LVal_2010Of course, I am. Don’t misunderstand me; I love my friends and my family. I love seeing them in small doses. The problem is I don’t make friends easily; I don’t trust easily; thus, I have a very small circle I call a friend. Most of my friends do not live anywhere near me, maybe this intentional I have never really considered this possibility. I think I am the only truly single one among us, the only one that lives entirely alone. Yes, this is my choice. I suppose if I made different choices in romantic partners along the way, I could by now have someone in my home, in my bed and my life; I did not do that. So I sit this morning four weeks into self-isolation and wonder if this is Paradise.

I am most fortunate. I am still working; nothing is changed for now as I have worked remotely for two years. During the workday, I must put on my virtual work clothes and take meetings, direct activities and perform tasks. This creates normalcy in the day though I have noticed for those who are not use to being remote; they call more and schedule more meetings just to have someone to talk too, I think. For me though, this is not human interaction; instead, it is just my work life and does not fill holes in my spirit.

Yes, the quiet is soothing.  I understand everyone is dealing with isolation differently. I read troubling accounts of domestic violence rising across the nation, against partners womaninjarand children as people are thrown together with their families and cannot find a peaceful coexistence. Yet I think to myself when I was young, we did it on family vacations locked in cars for days or in my case on 27 ft boats. Was it always peaceful? No, hell, we sometimes fought like mortal enemies, but we didn’t kill each other. It was on these holidays I learned to escape into my mind for peace.

So what is wrong with me? What is it I am missing in my Introvert’s Paradise?

I am missing contact, human interaction with people I love and trust. I am missing presence filling space. I am missing feeling and knowing I matter to someone else in the world, that I am of value and my existence matters. I am missing laughter, touch, conversation and the simple acts of kindness and generosity we each do without thinking when we engage in relationships with each other. I am missing humanity at its best which is what friendships are, even when we don’t recognize them or realize we do them or receive them. Our relationships are fragile, and yet we hold them tightly; this is true whether they are friends or lovers. Introverts always struggle with boundaries, how to create them without pushing those we care for too far away. I am guilty of building walls too high and too impenetrable, I know it but don’t know how to stop.

Paradise has a dark side. For those of us who greeted this terrible time as the chance to wrap ourselves in silence and aloneness, maybe we are learning some good things come with a price. I know this will not change my nature, but it will perhaps help me open up more with my friends. As I look down the road to another month, maybe two months of isolation I wonder if my spirit will survive just how alone I am.

There is a Portuguese expression that so spoke to my spirit I tattoed it under my heart:

Saudade

Presence of Absence

Comments

  1. As a fellow introvert, I know both the needs for solitude and intimacy well. The last week or so, I’ve been able to find little bits of solitude, and those bits of solitude have helped me appreciate the intimacy. I’m glad to now have a little of each, and wish it could be thus for everyone during this strange, sad time.

    • I have had far to much solitude these past weeks. Though I accept and even appreciate the why, I am struggling with the immensity of it. I am glad you are finding both.

  2. Introvert paradise, indeed! The only person I truly miss (aside from my father and my dog, both of whom have been gone nearly 4 years) is a close friend who stayed with me a few days last month. I had hoped we could visit my gym, but that’s when counties around the Dallas area started the shelter-in-place orders. We’re both weight-lifting junkies. But what some people call a lifestyle change is just life to me. I don’t need to be around other people. I used to say the more I got to know people the more I loved my dog. Now, he’s gone, and I’m truly alone. (My mother is in a rehab center, following a mild stroke back in January.) I have plenty of reading and writing to keep me busy.

    But I understand your sentiments. Ultimately, no one should really be forced to stay alone.

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