Tag Archive | social norms

Opposite of Lonely

I don’t often feel lonely, not the way I hear others describe it. I looked it up in a dictionary and thesaurus, and curiously, could not find an opposite for lonely that makes sense to me.

Lonely is defined as the one of the most terrible things in the world: Sad because one has no friends or company, isolated, alone, lonesome, friendless, with no one to turn to, forsaken, abandoned, rejected, unloved, unwanted, outcast, deserted, uninhabited, unfrequented, unpopulated, desolate, isolated, remote, out of the way, secluded, off the beaten track/path, in the back of beyond, godforsaken; in

the middle of nowhere.

Opposite? Populous. Crowded.

I do have a longing for meaningful connections in my life. Love and acceptance from people you can trust. I have a deep, dark, pain, an emptiness much greater than loneliness, because I know it will never be filled. I’ve looked into the depths of this chasm, and it is seemingly bottomless. It seems I’m safe as long as I only glance at it, no jumping in.

For me, acquaintance people are nearly always a nuisance, a stressor. Hell even the current people in my life that are supposed to be loving, supportive, combat loneliness, like my husband and in-laws cause stress and conflict. My kids are the only people I enjoy time with, and even then after a bit , I still feel crowded, smothered, like I can’t think or breathe. When I am alone, I feel peaceful. When I am with others, the tolerance clock starts clicking and I have limited time before I bolt, hide, isolate myself and recover from the constant scrutiny, questions, confusion, misunderstandings, obligations, words…so many endless words attacking my system.

It wears me out to nod, smile, be polite, figure out how to respond, sense danger, protect myself. Talking is my least favorite activity. I’d rather go to the dentist than have to chitchat with some random person. Is it my turn to talk? What did they just say? Are they lying right now? What time is it? Is that a TV show they’re talking about? Is this something I’m supposed to know snd recall or are they telling me something new? Ugh. Too stressful

Add multiple people and this feeling is exponentially heightened, to being the opposite of lonely, I get a strong need to be alone, to escape.

I’m not heartless. I do wish all these people well. I just don’t want to hear about it, sorry. Most things people tell me I can’t do anything about and I feel uncomfortable having to express sympathy or advice. Most people I start diagnosing their personality disorders, recognize cognitive distortions popping up, and of course I must remain silent. People don’t want to know this. They don’t actually want to change their own behavior or think about their thoughts. And they would be insulted or embarrassed, even though they are the one oversharing to me. It is only socially acceptable to offer support like, oh you poor thing that sounds difficult for you. They just want to hear it sucks, for validation.

I’ve found when I interact online, I can control the pace and intensity and don’t get overwhelmed. Each time I venture out to a real life Meetup, it is not a positive experience.

I’m not sure that’s bad or unhealthy. At this point in my life, if I feel satisfied by this level of connection, than maybe I need to stop trying to force myself into a more social, extroverted role just because I’m supposed to be lonely this way.

I’ve been reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain and embracing my introverted self. I don’t think I need fixed. When I socialize it is to complete a task, or because others want me there. I get nothing but stress from most gatherings otherwise.

I watched the Netflix series “Atypical” which was fantastic. I’m not an expert on autism to know if they portrayed this accurately at all. It was entertaining, but also I indentified strongly with his social struggles. I don’t think I’m autistic. But I do think I’m atypical and that my brain can’t be changed much at this point. I don’t connect and form bonds or relationships like most others do. I’m highly sensitive, tuned into emotions, which is the autistic difference. My hyperactive neurons though gives me high scores on tests for autism, overwhelmed by sensory input, can’t look people in the eye, don’t make friends, can’t work in groups, hate loud noises and bright lights, take things too literally at times, repetitive soothing behaviors, trouble following conversation, it goes on and on. Fascinating really. So it seems that autism may be caused by too many neural connections, a lack of pruning, is one theory. I’ve read similar theories for anxiety and PTSD, our connections stay strong reinforcing past memories to keep us vigilant and safe.

This is me rambling and I hope not being stupid or offensive with these curious thoughts. I only look for similarities to figure out the puzzle of me. I don’t claim to be right, ever.

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Sometimes I don’t hate myself

bubbles-1038648_1920

Here and there I experience moments of peace, freedom from self loathing. I am trying to make more of these moments appear in my life, if I can.

These moments come either when I am alone, or with my kids. Never with anyone else. Okay. Good starting point. It doesn’t always happen though. So what else is going on?

These moments come when I am not trying to change myself. When I am living. Doing something, like playing a video game and laughing with the kids, taking a hike and snapping photos, watching clouds transform into shapes and colors, feeling the hot water of a shower on my back, blowing bubbles and watch them float or splat, petting the soft fur of my dog, lifting weights feeling my muscles strain. I have brief mindful moments when I take in the world and I do not think about it. No analysis. No paranoia. No decisions, judging, evaluating, scanning for danger, making sure I am saying the right things. Just live and breathe, watch and experience.

These moments come when I am not trying to be perfect. I often am being childish. I make a rude or inappropriate joke or comment. I eat too much candy. I do the dishes later. I forget about something on my to do list. I make a mistake. AND my brain does not attack me and say I am a horrible person and need to die.

This is new.

These moments come with acceptance. I have accepted my current state of being – my weaknesses, my tendency to forget, my difficulty learning and processing, my auditory troubles, my daily flashbacks and slips into dissociative states, my irrational fears and panic attacks, my obsessive unbalanced thoughts. I have accepted that this is me right now. My kids accept ME too. They call me demented – but with a hug and a smile. They love my quirks. Maybe I can too??

I have made some BIG decisions to change my life. I am no longer going to desperately try to change ME. Instead I am going to accept me and accommodate me. I am no longer putting on a fake smile. The people closest to me don’t like ME. They like submissive, complacent me. And ya know what? I hate her. But I don’t hate ME.

This is really important I think. I have built a life, surrounded myself with people that never accepted ME. I have decided I am no longer obligated to be a part of their lives.

The in-house separation with Hubby is going really well. The space and distance is exactly what I needed to start healing and feeling stronger. I am no longer triggered and traumatized daily. I am getting some rest and peace here. With our separation, I have told him that I will not be going to any get-togethers at the in-laws’ houses for the holidays. He can take the kids without me as if we were truly separated.

I cannot tell you the overwhelming relief this decision has given me. Freedom from the chaos. Instead of my stress getting worse each day, I am getting more relaxed as the holidays approach.

I have accepted that I hate parties. I am going to stop forcing myself to attend them. I don’t need a label as to why. If you want to call it social anxiety, PTSD issues, attachment disorder, paranoia, whatever it doesn’t matter. I suffer when around people. Especially Hubby and the inlaws. I suffer for days before and after social events. I hate talking to people. I hate listening to people. I hate trying to fit in – because I don’t. I hate pretending to like things, pretending to agree with them. I also hate conflict and disagreeing so that doesn’t work well either. I hate analyzing motives, interpreting body language, making sure I am not being rude, making sure I am safe. It is exhausting. Not one second is ever fun.

I used to drink to get through social events. A few shots of whiskey before we leave. A few more while we are there and wine with dinner. Maybe add a benadryl or a sleeping pill to take the edge off.

I don’t do that anymore.

I won’t hurt myself any more. I won’t keep going to therapy to try to change the fact that I am not a social person. I have one more session to wrap up my program and then I am done with therapy. This is ME. I prefer being alone. I do not get lonely when I am alone. I am only lonely when I go to parties and see how different I am. I start feeling bad, like a freak, watching everyone else enjoy themselves, laughing and chatting. Why can’t I do that?

I don’t know why. But I don’t care anymore. It is no longer a goal of mine. I have accepted that I have different social requirements and I am going to stop trying to change and force myself to fit into a convenient mold that everyone else wants for me but I have never actually wanted.

This decision may hurt some people. They may think I am being selfish. I say good. About damn time I figured out how to do that. If the people actually NEEDED me, I would be there in a second to help. No one will die or even suffer because I am not eating turkey at their dinner table. Perspective is needed.

What about my kids? Won’t they be confused? No. They accept me too. I have explained to them this past year a bit about my troubles. That parties make me nervous and sick, cause headaches, too much stress, no fun for me. I am here for them all the other times. They can go to a party and come home and tell me about it. Instead of us going together, and me hiding, recovering, sick for the next several days. I am a better mom this way. By being kind to myself, accepting what works for me, and stop chasing normal.

I hate normal. But sometimes I don’t hate ME. And that is the key to everything. That is how I am going to get through this. I just know it now. I keep picturing a future where I might not hate ME. Is it possible?

Which Me to Be

In my quest to be me
I am often confused
on which me to be
which me do I choose?

I’m tired of pretending
hate letting it go,
hate white lies, truth bending
Useless, infuriating status quo.

I’m supposed to play nice
Look the other way
get through it, some advice
hey – don’t ruin the day

I can’t help but to ponder
if more days don’t need ruined?

Would anyone listen, would anyone get it
if I told them my feelings
would it help? or would I regret it?
to send them all reeling
to shake up their worlds
to ignore social rules blatantly
let chaos unfurl?

What I’m proposing
has never been done
What I’m supposing
is it would be great fun

for me

to shed this nice girl persona
and tell them all

I think they are

childish
selfish
petty
whiny
negative
greedy
vindictive
callous
two-faced
lost souls

chasing nonexistent cheese in an unwinnable rat race!

Would they smile and nod politely
while inwardly planning to smite me?

Would they tell me It’s ok
while quickly walking away?

Would they shrug and ignore me
and stick to their story?

Would they express sorrow
for the girl without etiquette, that pitiful girl
would they forget me tomorrow
or burn my ears in the gossip whirl?

We all went to school, and some went to college
but some of us were taught to never acknowledge
what we see and we know and we think and we feel
For the sake of peace keeping, we must never be real.

So here is my conflict, for I truly do care
about the people in this world, everywhere.
But each step I take
on my healing path
shows a decision I must make
about moving forward, or going back

If I keep moving ahead,
must I leave the rest behind?
Find the strength to feign I’m braindead
play opossum with my mind?

My choices I have three, though none of them good
stay home, safe and sound, no need for attack
go out with my blinders and muzzle, like a good girl should
go out fists up and tongue sharpened, but integrity intact

cat-muzzle

blinded and muzzled (Photo credit: ikes)

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This is my feelings about some upcoming social events I must attend. I know I am supposed to be happy to be invited, to feel joy in being together, to cherish the memories. But I don’t. I can think as positive as I want, but it won’t change the other people. I have to either stay home and avoid it altogether, which end sup hurting someone’s feelings that I didn’t come, or worries someone else and makes them ask questions. Or I can go, try not to get involved, ignore the nasty things I hear, ignore the negative energy, resist the urge to ask them why, resist the urge to steer conversation and just try to make it through the hours.

Or I can go and tell them the truth. No – I don’t like the same TV shows, I hate sports, No I didn’t think that commercial was funny, and actually I didn’t even see it but it sounds idiotic, Yes I am wearing the same outfit as last time because I only own two socially acceptable outfits for this type of occasion because I hate shopping, yes I hate shopping, so no I did not see that sale on shoes, and I have practical shoes, and enough shoes but yes your new shoes are cute, and no I have never been to a spa or had a manicure, because I don’t want people to touch me because I may get triggered and spiral into depression and have flashbacks of my abuse, and I would never waste my money like that but yes I think your nails are pretty and I don’t mind that you go, I’m happy it makes you happy, but I do wonder how you get any work done with pretty nails like that, mine would be worn off in 2 days I think, and yes I see that you are tired because you are so busy running your kids all around town being a better mom than me, from this event to that practice, no I didn’t mind the snow last week because I never went outside and my house is warm and it is actually very pretty, but the snow days off of school were tough because I work from home and had to keep the kids quiet while I was on the phone, yes I like my new job but only in the fact that it pays me, I’m afraid I’ll never be paid what I am worth and if I try for a promotion I may have to soul my soul, and I just put my soul back together so I really want to hold onto it for a while, but we basically have ennough money so it is working out, no I don’t like your new candle because it makes me wheeze and makes my head hurt, but the color is very pretty, and I would like to set my hair on fire and see if anyone notices and because the ER would be less painful than this conversation, and no I don’t think you have any right to complain about your husband who is a good man and trying his best and that you should tell him you are upset and work it out and not tell all of us, and no I don’t want to listen to how you think your sister-in-law is being inconsiderate because you should talk to her about it and not to me, and yes my kids all have good grades and are healthy, oh I’m sorry to hear yours is not doing well in reading, oh really your daughter got first place, that is great for her, oh by the way your kids are crying because the older one hit the younger one and the younger one kicked him back because all of the adults are busy having grown up discussions, and no I didn’t hear that your cat is on Prozac and you got a special device to shove pills down her throat 3 times a day, no, I’m not on prozac or any meds right, oh you take extra vitamins for your headaches, but you still have headaches, what a shame, I had a headache a couple of weeks ago, yes when I wasn’t returning your phone calls, yes I wanted to die, I was lying around the house wishing to die, no I’m not suicidal but I have been very depressed, PTSD flare up I guess, oh yes you are depressed too, because we have had so much snow this winter,  yes that is exactly the same thing, no that doesn’t trivialize my pain at all, and you should know older child is feeding off your bad energy and only cries when you are indecisive and make them think they get something and then take it away last minute, and yes I think you are crazy to let your 10 year old son sleep in your bed, and no I don’t care what kind of diet you created for yourself, but if it makes you feel better than yes I think you should stick to it even if it costs more money I guess, and no I don’t want to go camping with you guys, for so many reasons, but mainly I like to hike alone and listen to nature, not to be trapped in a forest with all of this nonstop talking, and sorry you don’t think I spend enough money on you, but I don’t equate love with money, and even though I am frustrated and don’t actually enjoy speaking to any of you, because I can’t help judging and wondering why you all care about these things, and why I don’t care, but I do actually love you all. But if it is easier for you to think I am quiet because I am sad and can’t get over my past, or even that I’m the crazy bitch, that is fine, because I don’t care what you think about me. I hope you find what you are looking for, if you ever slow down enough to think about it. Yes, have a good weekend, drive safe, see you next time and we can have the exact same conversation again, if I choose to come. I may not be feeling well that day. No, please don’t follow me to the car, I have nothing else to say. I’m fine. Good Night. I love you and and I’m so happy this event is over. Yay!

I wrote it without paragraphs because that is how one those events seem to me, nonstop chatter about nothing, and all the same nothings every time. I don’t get it.

I ache to be real, to be me, and find other real people.

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Why are we the messed up ones?

BS Free Zone ...item 3.. C’mon, Ben, Just Say ...

BS Free Zone … (Photo credit: marsmet481)

We know you are hurtful.

We know you are cruel and mean.

We know you are sadistic.

Blood on your hands remain unseen.

We know who you are.

We know what you do.

Why can no one else

see what clearly is so true?

Why are you protected?

Why are you accepted?

Why are we the ones perpetually rejected?

Why are we the messed up ones

when it is you that squashed our souls?

Why are we the messed up ones

forever burdened to pay the toll

of knowing who you are

and knowing what you do.

Yes, we’re the messed up ones

for daring to say what we know is true.

An Introverted Exploration into Introversion

Re-Joining the social world outside my mind, home, and computer has stirred up all kinds of interesting thoughts lately. After my Big Breakdown in my mid twenties, I chose to isolate myself from most of the world. It was just me and my babies at home. Hubby was not even allowed in any more. I’m not sure any of that was a conscious decision or if it was a necessity born of a lack of coping skills. My severe depression, then unknown PTSD, suicidal thoughts (and a few actions) over those years forced me to hide myself deep within a thick-walled protective fortress of my own creation. I had no idea that my inner child had always been buried in there, and it took my Big Breakdown to find her and introduce her to the young adult me. I found her in there, scared, alone, and trembling. I didn’t entirely know why, and it took a long time, years of intense therapy sessions to get the entire story and start on this journey of becoming whole.

I know so much about myself now. I am understanding my needs and doing my best to fill them. Now I am not talking about cute new shoes or the latest smartphone. If you know me at all, those are not needs. My needs are soulful: I need to be understood (first by my own self, and now expanding this to a few safe others), I need to be creative, I need to be alone often, I need to be helpful, I need to keep learning, and I need to love and be loved. Sometimes I need chocolate ice cream too, but that’s a whole different story.

Therapy this week we explored my aversion to small talk in any social situation. I have written about it before here. I get bored, then annoyed, then feel actual physical pain, and feel anger when I am forced to listen to pointless stories full of details that I don’t need to know. I care about people, deeply. And so I do my best to listen and participate in something that is so obviously a need for most people. At least for most extroverts I think.

I am not shy. Not at all. I have no fear of saying anything to anyone. I have no fear of scolding other people’s children (in front of them) if I notice feelings getting hurt or the child is about to get hurt. I love being the leader, giving presentations or speeches, and I really love performing and being the center of attention. But I hate talking about personal nothings, like what we had for dinner, where I bought my shoes, or if I saw the latest movie.  And I really hate listening, or attempting to listen when others go on and on about these things. Especially when they talk about their kids or pets. I have kids and pets and have very little I would want to randomly share about them.

My therapist asked me if I remember anyone going on and on with small talk when I was little. At first I thought she was nuts and just going back to those memories that therapists love to dredge up. But then I heard myself say, “My mom.”

And then I was transported back in time to the millions of occasions that my mom would be on the phone – talking for hours – and we were not allowed to interrupt her even though we could hear she was talking about the latest movie star scandal from People magazine. She would ask us to write her notes if it was an emergency, because to her it was rude for the person on the phone to ever hear her children in the background. I assume this was important in keeping up her facade that she was a perfect mom and we were perfect children, not pesky or unintentionally rude as is normal for small kids.

And then I remembered how many times I was dressed up in a perfect ruffly dress, and taken her friends’ houses to sit silently on the sofa while she chatted for hours. I was not allowed to interrupt there either, and if the friend asked me anything, my Mom would always answer for me, giving me a “keep your mouth shut or else” look. There would always be snacks on the table that I was instructed to say “no thanks” and stare at a plate of chocolate chip cookies for a few hours.

I was the youngest sibling. These memories are from before school age, when she was not working, and my brothers were in school, so I had to go every where with her. I didn’t want to wear the itchy lacy things she bought me. I wanted to wear shorts and climb trees. I didn’t want to sit still and “be a lady”. I did not care if anyone saw my underwear. Besides, why did she make me wear the lacy ones if no one was going to see it? I still remember how scratchy that felt on my little behind, and how I would squirm to try to itch myself politely, knowing Mom would hate it if anyone saw me adjust my undies.

So maybe, just maybe, some part of me does not want to be like my Mom. It is so simple, really. I am afraid if I enjoy the mindless buzz of talking that I will be like her? And of course my greatest fear is to become anything similar to either parent.

I don’t know, but I think it could play into it. Otherwise, it is simply my own extreme introversion. I’m convinced I would be introverted with or without childhood abuse. This is not a flaw, a disorder, or anything wrong with me. It is simply how I am wired and how I process my world. Two of my kids shows signs of some introversion and I try to respect that and give them alone time as needed. My youngest appears to be a full extrovert so far, which explains why he is extra exhausting to me.

I did some searching on this topic and found many irritating articles that do not understand introversion at all and only work to expand on myths and confusion. And to me, they stink of manipulation. Guides to manipulate those you talk to  – to pretend to be interested, to lead conversations where you want them to go like a slimy salesman or lawyer. Yes – I could do those things, but I choose not to be fake. I choose to be me at all times. I choose to be the same me to everyone.

http://theadventurouswriter.com/blog/how-to-make-conversation-for-introverts-tips-for-small-talk/

I’m only going to highlight a few ‘tips’ here:

1. Be curious about other people. “People are flattered when you find them appealing – and they naturally reciprocate,” says Dr Ann Demarais, psychologist and co-author of First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You. Showing interest in others increases your likeability factor because it shows you’re confident. “And when you’re confident, you appear more attractive,” she says.

This first tip turned my stomach. I am not going to flatter people just for the sake of flattery. If I like your hair, I will genuinely say so. If not, I will be quiet unless you ask me about it. And then I will honestly say I liked the last cut better. I will not say I think you look like a Q-tip, although I may think that and actually visualize you cleaning giant ears. But my introverted vision is just for me. And the whole likeability factor? OMG. That makes me mad. I don’t give a crap if you like me. And I certainly don’t want you to like me based on some false flattery or something I am not. Ugh. Forget it.

And the thing is – I am curious about other people – genuinely. I can see the pain on faces, notice limps or twitches, see underlying sadness. I know when people are speaking vaguely and avoiding pain. I feel frustration. I sense tension. And I know when people are not being true. I heard the argument between the husband and wife as they walked up the driveway and I’m not fooled by the plastered on smiles. I’d much rather talk about what I see and feel and dig into what really matters. But most people don’t want to talk about real life, and I know that, so I usually pretend I don’t notice, to be polite and to talk about things appropriate to the situation.

5. Smile with your eyes. If your face feels and looks pleasant and happy, your conversation partner will feel relaxed. A happy face looks approachable and friendly. To keep your face open and happy, think positive thoughts: recall your last vacation, a funny joke, or last night’s episode of “Two and a Half Men.”  Making conversation for introverts is easier if you’re happy and relaxed.

I struggle with this one, as my face does show my thoughts. I may look concerned while the mom is discussing her recipe because I am aware her 3 year old wandered out the door. I am not sure if she is aware, or if someone else is watching the little one. Many other moms are much more relaxed about watching children than I am and can get offended if I point out they are not watching theirs. So I have learned to watch them myself and speak up when needed to keep them safe. I purposely fill my glass only a little so I can get up often and look around.  Or I know the friend with MS is in serious pain and shifting in her seat. I cringe right along with her. And then the one who is now living alone, her children grown up and her husband died. I sense her loneliness and longing underneath her silly story. I care about everyone and struggle to shield my reflection of what I feel on my face. I do have to remember to force a smile at time when my mind has wandered and I see everyone else smiling or laughing.

Bonus tip for small talk: wear a light scent. Research from Northwestern University shows that a light lemon smell increases your “likeability factor.” You don’t have to smell like citrus to make people like you – any pleasant, barely perceptible scent is effective. A light scent may give you confidence, especially if you have introverted personality traits.

There’s that likeability factor again. Oh man. Seriously? When’s the last time you decided to talk to someone because they smell good? Now I do think you should make sure you don’t smell bad, I mean a nice shower and a breath mint go a long way. But I have had many wonderful conversation with some very stinky people before, after a dance performance, after a run, heck, even after a child vomited on them. Smell is not high on my list of why I talk to people. Are so many people really this superficial??

I think everything works on a spectrum, and there is not a clear line of introversion vs extroversion. I believe I am extremely introverted.

http://www.carlkingdom.com/10-myths-about-introverts

This one seemed to understand introversion much better. I’m listing all 10 here.

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Yes, exactly. I love talking. Get me going about brain research, education reform, biology, examining feelings, and so many other topics I am hard to shut up. The latest football game or what was on TV last night? I am not interested and probably clueless there was even a game or anything on TV. I live in my own world.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

I love that – I don’t interact for the sake of interacting. I have no need for this.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

I have been called blunt and dense more than once in my life. The social pleasantries feel forced and fake to me. I do my best not to offend though, and it is completely exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Yes – I value everyone. Even the person you are trash talking, so I don’t want to hear it. If you ever need me though, I’ll be the first one there.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Exactly! The fair is fun for about 20 minutes. I’m done now. I enjoyed it, but I’m done now.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

Not always alone, but I treasure being alone because it happens so infrequently.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

No, I’m fine with being weird. I challenge everything. I am the pain in the butt that makes people change or see things differently. I don’t even know what is popular or how to find out. Fashion means nothing to me, I choose clothes and accessories for comfort, texture, and durability. I own one purse at a time, use it for a few years until it breaks. I don’t join the PTA at school because I know I would not keep my mouth shut and prefer to stay unknown in my small town.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds. 

Think Tank

Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

My inner world is so much fun! Think Ally McBeal. I have musical numbers going on in here, people transforming in amusing ways, and words turning into poems. I swear my insanity keeps me sane.

I have attended ‘think tank’ titled meetings and visualized something some crazy smart mechanical tank barging in and shooting lasers to rescue me from boredom and whisk me away to save the universe with a young Harrison Ford. (Just found out that not everyone has this inner world . . .)

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Yes, yes, and yes. I will look up the dopamine pathway for introverts, never heard that before.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.

Hmm. I used to think there was something wrong with me. Then I thought there was something wrong with everyone else. Now I see we all fill our needs in different ways and no one is wrong. Just need to teach tolerance, understanding and acceptance rather than conformance. Teach kids we’re all different, and we’re all OK too. Stop striving for normal and fitting in. Instead celebrate our differences!!

So to sum this up, I understand myself a bit more now. My introversion is not caused by abuse, but my personality was shaped by my experience and I may be more introverted than without the abuse. I also attached an ‘abnormal’ label to myself all these years as I tried to fit in. Now I am finding ways to fit into social groups without compromising myself. I am finding people that value me as me. This is important, because I used to think only in terms of my past, my abuse. I thought it had touched all of me and made me who I am. It is important to see the difference that it yes it shaped me, but so did many other things. I don’t have a neon sign of “abuse survivor” on my head like I previously thought. I am not so damaged. I was hurt. I have scars – But I am not a scar. Huge change to my way of thinking about myself.

I am loving and gentle to myself now, and amazingly, others are acting this way too. My whole world is transforming and opening up to me – all because I have chosen to actually be me. Amazing.

If you are on this journey to, don’t give up. It takes practice to be kind to yourself. I still make mistakes. But I am allowing the nurturing parent and teacher in me to take care of my hurting inner child. I would never belittle my own kids, or those in my classrooms for stumbling when learning. It is to be expected. Learning is hard, but never impossible.

I’m Not Shy, I’m Bored and Tortured

I endured and survived another social event that was supposed to be fun. Key words – supposed to be. It was an outdoor picnic for members of the theatre group. I have never enjoyed parties or picnics and it seems that people plan them endlessly, because I assume, most other people do actually enjoy them. I hate get-togethers where the main purpose is just to get together. That means I am expected to participate in my most hated activity of all time – small talk. Chit-chat. Meaningless words meant to pass the time. Ugh.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy wasting time – I do. And I do that often. Not by talking though.

It’s not that I don’t like and care for the people I must talk to – I do. A lot.

It’s just that I don’t know how to hide the pain, boredom, disappointment on my face when they say the exact thing I expected them to say. Like a script. Or handle all of the input, or feelings I get from them that don’t match what they say. I go into system overload so quickly.

I love working with these people, painting scenery while the talking goes on around me, but not so much to me. But without a brush in my hand, and no project to protect me, I must endure the following conversation over and over and over and over.

“Hellooooo!” the women squeal this an octave too high. or “Heeeyyyy” From the men, acting cool. Then “How’s your summer going?” or “Aren’t you glad it didn’t rain today?” then “Are you working this summer? What do you do again?” then “How old are your kids now?” then “Pretty soon we’ll be getting ready for school again, where does the time go?”

So then I ask the same questions back, because when I bring up topics interesting to me, or ask what they think about something, I see instant discomfort. Like when I throw out ideas for helping our organization continue even though the director is retiring – no one wants to hear it, and has already given up. My ideas are “impossible” and besides, we’re here to have fun today. So then I give up too, and listen to endless stories full of endless details I don’t even try to remember of camping, potty training, vacations, house remodeling, employment or unemployment. Every few words I look away and make sure my kids are still alive – at least I have young kids and have that excuse to look away and roll my eyes. Then get to put on a smile as  I hear another story of where Fluffy likes to nap, and which type of sunscreen they like, or where they purchased shoes on sale. My mind starts whispering, “I don’t care” at first.But as time goes one, my minds is screaming, “I DON’T EFFING CARE, SHUT UP, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SHUT, SHUT UP SHUT UP ALREADY!” And it’s not like I’m in danger of missing something, I already heard them tell this same story 3 times near me to other people.

No one is authentic in these situations. The friend with MS is in obvious pain, and yet plasters on a smile and asks everyone how they are doing. Her fatigue and sadness pierce me like an arrow. One Mom talks about how overprotective she can be while her 2 year old floats unattended in the pool with a life jacket suit. Another mom invites my girl over for a sleepover, never been to her house before ever and she wants to start with a sleepover. She has 6 kids she can barely manage, her tween girl is in tears from her mother’s harsh words – I don’t think she needs another overnight. Another complains of money issues and caring for elderly parents.

In just an hour, I an overwhelmed by everyone’s feelings, bombarded with life details, on edge from watching unsupervised children and generally quite uncomfortable. Make it to the food table and realize everything has been sitting out there too long, and it either cold when it should be hot, warm when it should be cold, and visited by multiple winged and many-legged creatures. All of my practice being mindful, and living in the moment actually makes these moments worse, so I allow my mind to wander away to interesting places instead of wondering why no one else cares the food is lousy and no one thought to cover it or insulate it.

Endure it for a few more hours, and try to round up kids before the mosquitoes make an appearance.  Fail. Kids are sad – they are having the times of their lives. Sigh. I want them to enjoy this. I love seeing them have fun, and that is the only part of the event that I do enjoy. We must stay a while longer yet, they have to have one more smore.

Hubby says “Don’t worry, it won’t be that bad” before we go. It was that bad. It always is that bad. And then  – wait for it – you knew it was coming – I feel guilty for not enjoying it, and so I stuff my feelings later at home by overeating and staying up too late with dumb TV to erase all the useless facts I acquired throughout the party. I managed not to get pulled down too far into guilt this time, and I think avoided a shame attack, but I’m very grumpy.

Feeling like Sheldon again. I don’t understand why they enjoy sitting around and talking about nothing, and then moving to a new group of person and talking about that same nothing all over again. I pick up bits of everyone’s conversation involuntarily and realize they all have approved, non-confrontational, pleasant stories they share with these not so close friends. I like talking when it is new ideas, or leads to new ideas.

I’d so much rather read a book or be teaching/learning/doing something. OK, I’d pretty much prefer to do anything except mingle at parties. Even washing dishes or going to the dentist is more enjoyable to me, at least those have a purpose and an achievable goal in sight.

So, I wonder. Do I have a social disorder or do they? Or am I just a bitch? Why can’t I find enjoyment in these parties and picnics that others plan and look forward to? Is there any way to make them more tolerable and still be polite? I like who I am now, and no longer have a desperate need to “fit in” but I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings either. I’d be perfectly content to sit by myself and listen to the wind blow the leaves, and distant happy kid sounds. I don’t get bored or desire to escape or pluck out my eyeballs when alone, only when they start talking to me.

(If you suggest alcohol, yes, well, these family events typically do not have alcohol served, because that just wouldn’t be right.  I had 2 shots of whiskey before I left home to even make it there and survive it at all.  (Hubby drove) Tipsy helps me stay centered and not get overwhelmed – I think it actually dulls my hyperactive senses. )

 

Living Life With a Big Heart

English: The Red Arrows visit Bournemouth: big...

A big heart for everyone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My daughter is learning about life, love, acceptance, and intolerance. She is in the third grade, but acting with a gentle wisdom and constant big-hearted love for all that makes my own heart grow.

My girl is super smart, reads several years above her grade level, and learns everything quite easily. She is not bored in school though, as her active imagination keeps her going. No bestest friend ever yet. She is very busy, in clubs, sports, and extracurriculars and talks easily with anyone and everyone. I love watching her flit about from a young group of boys, where she acts like a monkey to make them laugh, then off to a group of moms where she impresses them with some reminder of a forgotten task, and then over to a group of girls and “oohs” at their necklaces and new shoes. She is happy where ever she is. And she is herself where ever she is. And she spreads happiness where ever she is. I love all that.

When school started this year, she told me about a new friend she made in class, and was so happy that he sat next to her. She said she thought he was cute and funny and they laugh together every day. I was happy for her but thought nothing of it. She also told me that some of the other kids aren’t nice to him, and she didn’t understand why. I asked what they did that wasn’t nice, and she explained that they call him names, laugh at him, and avoid him, like make a big deal that they don’t accidentally touch him in the hall. I said wow, that sure isn’t nice, and I bet he’s happy to have you as a friend. I asked if the teachers know how he is being mistreated? She said the teachers see it, and try to get the kids to be nice, but they just aren’t nice, especially in the hall walking to lunch. Aww, poor guy. I asked who, and she said a group of girls mostly run and scream, and the boys laugh and won’t let him play. But he doesn’t care Mom, he’s always so happy and nice.

As school got going, my daughter told me more about her friend. She said he can’t read very well, and does work she did in kindergarten. And he’s happy about it Mom. She was astonished that he was proud of himself for mastering such “baby-ish” tasks.  Then she looked at me and said, “I guess we should all be proud of what we can do, since we can all do different things. Just because this work is easy for me, doesn’t mean it is EASY.” And like the Grinch’s heart, I saw hers growing that day, as she learned her own life lesson in acceptance. Wow. (Not that she was overly grinchy before, but just young and self-centered as children tend to be)

Now this story gets even better. I took my girl shopping and we bumped in

to her new friend and his mom at the store. She ran up to him, and they exchanged high-fives and grins, and “See ya tomorrow’s”.  Her new friend has Down Syndrome. “Isn’t he cute mom?” Yes. yes he was adorable, and I could tell he liked my girl too. Such a warm and genuine smile on both their faces.

Her friend’s mom had teary eyes from my daughter’s warm greeting and obvious acceptance.

So. I never exactly told my daughter to value and accept every person, no matter what. But somehow she got that message. And somehow those not so nice students did not get that message. Were they given another one? Did I give this message without knowing it? I don’t know.

And the best part, to me, is that my daughter never thought it was important to tell me her new friend had Down’s. I found out she did know, and actually had asked me about it, but out of context and I never connected the dots. Just a quick, “Mom, what is Down Syndro-something? What does it mean if someone has Down’s? Our teacher said someone at school has it.” I explained that they were born with a different chromosome, (a what?) their DNA, their body’s roadmap. Like you have a gene that gives you brown eyes, makes it easy for you to learn new things, and your lungs get asthma. Some people have a gene for Down Syndrome. “Does it make it hard to learn?” Yes. “Does it make you look different?” Yes. “Like your gene made your back and leg hurt?” Yes.

“Mom, will he be ok? Is he sick?” Ummm, I searched for an answer here. I have limited understanding of Down, and I didn’t want to worry her too much or get too complicated for her age. I didn’t even know she was asking about her new friend, just thought it was someone she heard about at school.  So I said, “He’s OK for him, and he’s not sick, and can’t get anyone sick, his body just works a bit different. He can get sick with a cold, just like you can, but he isn’t sick with Down. You can’t really compare him to anyone else. He’s very special. And very lucky to have a friend like you. And I’m so happy you got to meet him.” She said “Yes, me too”.

I looked up Down’s info after talking with her.

http://www.nads.org/pages_new/facts.html

Health Issues

Many children with Down syndrome have health complications beyond the usual childhood illnesses. Approximately 40% of the children have congenital heart defects. It is very important that an echocardiogram be performed on all newborns with Down syndrome in order to identify any serious cardiac problems that might be present. Some of the heart conditions require surgery while others only require careful monitoring. Children with Down syndrome have a higher incidence of infection, respiratory, vision and hearing problems as well as thyroid and other medical conditions. However, with appropriate medical care most children and adults with Down syndrome can lead healthy lives. The average life expectancy of individuals with Down syndrome is 55 years, with many living into their sixties and seventies.