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

Crawling Back

Linda1I crawled inside myself this year. Allowed myself the luxury of being, simply being without considering the affect my actions have on others. I have stretched my arms, touched the four walls and claimed them, mine, just mine. This time of my own has been healing, soul and spirit healing.

Most people who don’t know me well don’t realize I am by nature an introvert. Most people see the public side of me, the side that stands up and speaks to large crowds, that leads large teams, that hustles for work, hell that writes two blogs and interacts in social media forums daily and thinks that is the ‘real’ me.

Lately I have allowed the introvert control and it has been freeing. I have lived inside of my head, explored the landscape more intimately; it has been hard but liberating. I realized just how much over most of my adult life I have spent making others happy, doing for others, pleasing others, and taking care of others; all too often at my expense. Most of my adult life I suppressed my own needs, wants and desires so everyone around me got what they needed first, if there was something left that was what I got. Oddly, this was ground into me, as ‘natural’ and thus I never realized it was part of my unhappiness.

Living alone and inside of my head has let me see the entirety of my life to now without external inputs, without distractions.

Personality Type

There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to take care of others. Caring for others can be a source of pleasure, great joy even. A lack of selfishness can be a wonderful trait. I think I have both of these, I believe I am an unselfish person who naturally wishes to care for both those I love and my community. What I have come to realize though, is these traits can also be a source of pain and resentment where there is no balance, a fair exchange of power is critical though most of us do not think of power where our relationships are concerned.

The truth is power is at the core of our relationships whether love, family or friendship. Where we are not evenly yoked, balanced in our exchanges ultimately we fail to thrive. I suspect most of us don’t think of our relationships in these terms, we have all heard the term ‘evenly yoked’ when it comes to our marriages or love partnerships, but the truth all of our relationships are power based. I realized through this time of introspection how I failed within each of my relationships, whether parent, spouse or friend to balance power and allowed myself to grow in resentment or anger. I realized how I failed by not asking for what I needed.http://www.parsonsrocks.com/the-art-of-rock-balancing-with-photos/

Yes, the relationship might still have failed even had I asked. The truth is many of my relationships were toxic and were not going to change simply because I asked for something different, for something better than what existed at the time. The truth is, sometimes people are drawn to those they can hurt, drawn to those who are vulnerable. Sometimes relationships are established at birth, without early intervention they will not change and these have lasting effect. Friendships and love relationships though, these are different animals and we have different standards for them, at their core we are either balanced in our exchanges or miserable in our choices, I don’t think there is a middle ground.

For me, this has been a truth without realizing it.

I let myself settle into simply being me for most of this year, truly all of this year. I got through last year, through the divorce, through being scared spitless financially after nearly 6 months of unemployment and through a bad job choice and miserable work environment. Now even though I am still scared, barely recovering financially, struggling with pain issues and waking up some days to, ‘oh shit, what have I done’, when I think about the career move I have made, I realize I am beginning to find peace. By allowing myself the freedom to finally, for once in my entire adult life, put myself first I am finding peace.

Peace to choose what is needful, including fair and balanced exchanges of power with those who are in my life. Peace to ask for what I need from those who claim to love me, truthfully it is more than peace it is acknowledging I have a value that is sometimes greater than what I can give, that I am inherently of value. Recognizing I am perfectly good just as I am. My personal space, both externally and internally works for me and is built on strong foundations I do not have to modify it for the comfort of others unless I choose to do so.

alexander yakovlev, Dancer Portraits

alexander yakovlev, Dancer Portraits

I am also finding peace in acknowledging there is strength in asking for help. By crawling inside of my head and my heart, I have finally recognized strength and weakness. I have spent twenty-three years refusing to accept how damaged my body is, how many things I truly cannot or should not do. Living alone has seen me struggle with physical limitations, battle with what a ‘normal’ person might consider simple. I finally have had to accept there are things I shouldn’t or can’t do alone and have had to ask for help. It was hard at first, my pride was injured, ultimately I asked and no one turned me down. I was lifted up by their generosity of spirit.

So I crawled inside of myself, my natural introvert took over. I suspect I am going to allow my nature more time in control of my world in the future, I find I am happier this way. I have missed my interactions in the blogging world, but found I needed the time to find my footing again, find my voice and my spirit. Hopefully, now that I am finding a foundation of who I am I will begin more regular visits to you all once again and a more regular voice as well.

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