Even though I grew up in a house with lots of brothers, most of my childhood memories are of me alone. Me alone in my back yard, practicing cartwheels, climbing trees, reading books in trees, hiding in briar patch forts, reading books in briar patch forts. Or me alone in my room, reading books in my room, writing stories and drawing pictures. Or me alone riding my bike all around town, on the bike path, to the library to get more books, or on the way to the nature center to walk and find a new place to read my latest book.
Are you sensing a theme here?
My best and safest memories include just me and a book and my imagination. I remember when the log I was sitting on would transform into a great ship and I would sail the ocean (without the motion sickness reality gives me) and when I arrived, the path I knew so well would become new, unknown, and need exploring.
I knew every cat in town, and would ride my bike to visit them, both the homebody cats and the wild ones, they would all come right up to my bike to get their chin scratched. I usually had some cheese in my pocket for the wild ones.
I knew where all the squirrel, bird, and raccoon nests were, and made sure they had enough leaves, twine, and stuffing to make a cozy home. I often left them the crusts of my peanut butter sandwiches that I had packed for my solo journey of the day.
When I was alone – I felt safe. I felt strong. I felt like my life would be ok. Some days I would stay out as dust swallowed the world, and get home just in time so no one noticed I was late. Dinner was clockwork and I might get grounded if even a minute late. Best to be good and not get noticed. When I followed every rule perfectly, I could take my spot at the table, eat, and slip away again. I don’t recall if my family talked during dinner, because my mind was still exploring those exotic distant lands I had traveled to that day.The reality of the horrors of my daily life were pushed into fantasy, and my fantasy had become my reality. My own inner world was so beautiful. I was strong and amazing in my world. No one hurt me there.
And so I am strongly an introvert, and need alone time to renew my strength and feel like me. My life is no longer horrible, and I don’t need to escape, and yet I get a strong urge to escape anyway. Now that I recognize this need, I have been building more and more alone time into my schedule. I used to get this time by staying up too late in the quiet of the night, once the kids are all sleeping. I will probably always do this a little, but I’m hoping that my carving out some time on Hubby’s days off, where he takes all the kids, that I will need less alone time and get in more sleep time.
I feel the need to explain that an introvert is not always quiet and shy. I am a performer, a dancer and a musician on stage, and can get quite loud and lively with my friends. I love performing on stage, and I love being the center of attention in groups – I am a natural leader too. But I find that although I enjoy these social activities, if too many days go by without a chance to be alone, truly alone with just my own thoughts, that I get down, drained, tired, cranky, feel trapped and generally dream of running away.
So now I have another tool in my box. I can take a book to the local quiet coffee shop, park, library, and escape for a few hours. Or sometimes he takes the kids away from home for a few hours, so I can escape right here while I dance around the house to my favorite music cranked up to high and no one see my inner Beyonce. Hubby understands this need now and is willing to help this happen on a regular basis. Life is still crazy and chaotic, and I can embrace the chaos now (mostly, well better anyway), knowing that when it gets to be too much, I will be able to slip away and recharge. Such a basic need, and it has not been met for most of my years as a mom.
- Introverts are Not Failed Extroverts (psychologytoday.com)
- An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving the Holiday Season (news.terra.com)
- 10 Myths About Introverts (loveashley.net)
- Confessions of an Introvert (natashamuller.com)