Introvert in Denial

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I have made a whole heap of discoveries about who I am in the past year.  I’m talking really huge, monumental realisations that have absolutely smashed to smithereens all previous theories about who I am, and who I thought I was.  A dawning of such magnitude doesn’t come cheap;  it causes the world as you know it to shake at your feet in a terrifying earthquake,  forcing all earlier conceptions to tumble to the ground,  leaving rubble where solid thoughts once existed.

It sounds terrifying,  and in many ways it is;  it is certainly life changing,  make no mistake.  But the overriding sensation is one of relief:  I am not odd:  I’m just in the minority.  I am not an intolerant bitch:  I struggle with Misophonia.  I am not an attention-seeking drama queen:  I am merely a highly sensitive person.

However,  one aspect of my personality is still a mystery.  Am I an introvert,  or not?  Many HSPs are introverts,  and it’s true that when I have taken online personality tests,  I invariably come up with introvert.  But while I enjoy my own company, I also love a good party.  I am loud and opinionated, which are a far cry from classic introvert characteristics.  Although I often shrink from attention,  there are times when I am most comfortable being slap,  bang right in the middle of it.

The bottom line is,  I don’t want to be an introvert.  There,  I’ve said it.  I am more than willing to admit that I have introvert traits,  but there are just as many extrovert ones, too.   When I consider the possibility of being an introvert,  I want to fight tooth and nail against it,  every fibre of my being screaming “that’s not ME”.

Why would this be?  I honestly don’t know.  Or perhaps I do,  and I am just being coy.  It’s stigma.  The stigma that is associated with introverted,  shy people.  God, I hate that word.  Shy,  shy,  shy,  SHY.  As a child,  I was always described as shy.   I am not shy at all,  and never have been.  I am wary,  and cautious and sensitive,  that’s it.  Nobody really looked close enough to see the real me,  to bother enough to realise that I wasn’t shy.  Hey, ho.  Common mistake:   quiet equals shy.

Perhaps the problem is that I see shyness and introversion all entwined and entangled,  with my mind unable to separate the two?  Or,  maybe,  it has more to do with how our society treats introverts:  the butt of poor jokes,  ridiculed and misunderstood,  seen as second class citizens that nobody remembers or cares about.  I am a highly sensitive person,  and as such,  I CRAVE acceptance.  This is closer to the truth;  this,  I believe, is the real reason why I can’t think of myself as being an introvert.

Although I have many unequivocal extrovert tendencies,  I think I may be a closet introvert: an introvert in some serious denial.  I’ve seen me walk into a crowded room and rather than show I was intimidated,  I have become the loudest person there.  I’ve had public speaking jobs,  where I felt a fraud,  sick to my stomach before every meeting I held.  I’ve worked in customer services positions where a jovial,  sociable  and out-going personality was a pre-requisite,  and gone home exhausted due to the effort it took.  I felt like a fake,  an interloper,  and just waited for someone to discover it.   That’s denial.  That’s pretending.  That’s not who I am.

And it makes me sad.  Why should I deny such a huge part of who I am?  If,  indeed, I am an introvert? Why should society dictate what is acceptable,  or not?  I might ask why should I even care;  but the HSP among us will know why.  We just do.

 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The Complexity that is Me

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I feel like a whirling, swirling mash of emotions, that are threatening to engulf me at any given moment.

The kids are on holiday, and this means that I rarely get a moment to myself. To the highly sensitive (and Misophonic) among us, you know the drill; I don’t need to explain more. To those that don’t fit the above: I probably sound like a whinging, self-absorbed, uncaring mum, counting down the days until I have all the “me” time I could want. To you guys: I don’t care what you think, to be honest. You aren’t me. You won’t get it, and therefore I won’t even begin to justify myself (which is good, because I don’t have the energy to).

I am being sucked dry. So much so, that I can’t even explain the feeling in words. I really can’t. I could say that it is like the real me doesn’t exist any more; but that’s not quite right. I could say that it feels as though my stomach is being squeezed so hard that I wonder how I can still breathe; and that’s partly it. I am not normally at a loss for words, and I am usually fairly adept at translating emotions into those words; but, how I feel is literally indescribable.

I do feel like a bad parent; no denying that. I am so sick of feeling guilty, so I am not going to dwell on my perpetual self-torture. When you have kids, your sole aim should be to ensure they are as happy as they possibly can be. I don’t think my kids are. I think they will look back and remember their childhood with a mum that “had a weird thing called Misophonia”, who got annoyed by little things, who suffocated when she didn’t get any breathing space. Oh. And this wasn’t going to be guilt-flogging session.

I am crying now. See, this is my therapy. It helps; I know it does. It unburdens the horrific guilt I feel for my seemingly gargantuan, never-ending parenting fails. Where only my mistakes play across my mind in a perpetual rewind of where I am going so terribly wrong. I want to be THAT mum. You know, the one that can’t wait for the summer holidays to start because of all the wonderful things they are going to do together. That must feel nice. It must be nice to be that kind of mum.

My nine year old told me this morning that he wished he had a different mum. It took all of my energy not to say “yes, me, too”. His reason for saying this? I decided not to go to the beach with them. My partner works six-day weeks, leaving the house at 1pm, and not returning for 12 hours. Part of me wanted to join them for a morning on the beach; the other part was screaming “alone, alone, ALONE”. For once, I listened to the voice, rather than putting my kids first. They wanted me to go, and I wanted to stay. I am flattered that a morning on the beach is not complete without me, but it also smothers me. Then it makes me feel guilty when I disappoint them. There’s always a catch: I get alone time, but feel guilty for it. Sometimes, I can’t win.

I am not a bad person. A lot of this is not MY fault. But sometimes I feel my kids deserve SO much better than me. I am the mum that posts all the holiday pictures on Facebook, all smiling and happy, then sits back and waits for the comments about what a beautiful family, what a great time we seem to be having. I allow the words to stroke my frazzled ego, momentarily soothing my feelings of inadequacy. Never admitting that we’d had tears, tantrums and fights five minutes before the photo was taken; that although there were glimpses of real joy, they were few and far between. It’s all fake. I am not that perpetually smiling, easy-going mummy that I pretend to be. I carry a shit load of baggage around with me that can’t NOT affect my kids in the long run, no matter how hard I try; no matter how hard I try to deny.

As a highly sensitive person, I can’t bear failure. As a mum, it is crucifying.

Afterword: Three hours of alone time. That’s all it took to restore my composure and internal balance. I know that the above is not all I am, is only a tiny part, one that shows itself when I’m under intense personal pressure; it certainly isn’t how my children see me most of the time. However, it is an ugly, yet inevitable side of me, and can’t (shouldn’t) be ignored, and this blog helps me deal with it.

 

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

 

Vad Härligt det är i Sverige i Sommaren…..

I have two blogs: one that journals my life in Sweden, and this one, which offers me the chance to discuss my innermost thoughts and feelings; my own personal therapy, as it were. Under most circumstances, the two are best kept separate – I doubt many people interested in Sweden want to read my somewhat self-indulgent, deep posts, and vice-versa. That said, although I find the cathartic nature of this blog invaluable, it isn’t a true picture of me, and the life I lead. I have a wonderful life, one that I am incredibly thankful for; and in general, I am an upbeat, happy and positive person. This blog only reflects the negative aspects, and I guess I just wanted to redress the balance slightly, to show that there is more to me than internal angst, and doom and gloom. So, if you’re interested, this shows a snippet of an alternative me.

My Swedish Life

…..which, for the non-Swedish speaking among us, means “how lovely it is in Sweden in the summer”. And it really is.

We’ve been at the summerhouse for two weeks, which is a week longer than I’d planned. H went back to work, and the kids and I just stayed. How glorious to be able to be so spontaneous, without plans, just taking each day as it comes. Doesn’t get any better than that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sensitive person which means I need my space, so having the kids with me literally 24/7 has been tough at times; we’ve had our moments, but the good bits have been so good that the negatives just fade into the distance almost as soon as they happen.

Swedes are good at doing summer; they launch into a never ending supply of BBQs, and relish just being outside. As clichéd as it sounds, they…

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Understanding Your Limitations

 

Before I start, I want to emphasise that I love my kids. Really love them. The love I feel for them is the purest and deepest emotion I have ever experienced, and will undoubtedly always remain that way. Some may not believe me after they read my post, while others, hopefully, will be able to closely relate.

I have been thinking about writing a post on the subject, when this popped up on my feed. I felt such a deep resonance with the words; it seriously could have been written by me, about me. Among other things, it broached the somewhat tricky subject of when you need time away from your kids; when they become almost enough to drive you insane, seriously. Most people are frustrated by their kids at some point, but sensitive people really struggle at times. Like the poster, I also had such a hard time when my first child was born; I used to say it was because I was selfish and set in my ways, which to some degree is probably true, but I think it is more the fact that I could never escape. He was always around; if I went somewhere, he came with me. It was suffocating.

I have spent the last two weeks in our family’s idyllic summerhouse. It’s by the beach, in the middle of a forest, and I love it here. The first week was amazing – we were here as a family, and there was the opportunity to dive into a book and lose myself for a while. This second week it has just been me and the kids. To be honest, this idyll has reverted to a living hell. The kids go to bed the same time as me, and wake up the same time. They are there every second of every day. I have seriously not had more than a minute to myself for a week. Yes, I hear the non-sensitive among you saying. That’s what parents do; that’s what you sign up for. But, to a sensitive person, it is akin to torture. I can’t think straight, I am grumpy, snappy and quite unforgivingly horrible to the kids. Things that wouldn’t normally bother me are sending my emotions into a devastating maelstrom. If nagging was an Olympic sport, I would win gold.

In reality, I don’t want to get away from my kids. What I do want to do, is get away from the noise, from the inane childish chatter, from the constant questions. I want to sit quietly for five minutes to settle my thoughts. It’s the inability to do that, even for just a few minutes, that puts enormous pressure on my whole being.

None of us feel good; that I am sure of. My eldest is very sensitive and also feels the need to get away, but can’t either. At home he escapes to his room with his iPad, but with a poor internet connection, he doesn’t even get that luxury here. So, we are constantly butting heads, with ever-increasing abandon. For the first time ever, I put them to bed last night without giving them a cuddle. I mean, the first time EVER in their lives. Their crime? Silly, childish hysterics and behaviour. How horrific, eh? But, in my defence (and I am feeling the need to defend my actions, probably because I am so aware that it is me in the wrong) it came at the pinnacle of a very stressful and frustrating day, and it was literally the straw that broke the camel’s back. I always tell them that no matter what happens, nobody should go to sleep sad or cross. I broke my promise last night with a cold and uncaring heart. I needed to get away from them, and the only way I could do that was to sleep. I must just point out that I am not Cruella de Ville; my kids didn’t wail themselves to sleep feeling abandoned by the only person they could depend on. They went to sleep as soon as their heads hit the pillows, but even so. It’s the principle that matters (and hurts in the cold light of day).

I am trying to be magnanimous about this; I could easily allow myself to slip into a quagmire of self-flagellation, as I have done numerous times in the past, but I am trying not to beat myself up about something I literally have no control over. It isn’t about me getting a grip, or needing to stop stressing. This is who I am; how I am made. When forced into a situation where there is no escape, even if that is from my children, I became claustrophobic to the point of distraction.

We’ve had a better day today. We’ve been down to the beach, and I have dipped in the refreshing Baltic. It’s swept away lots of negativity and frustration; it’s re-charged my batteries. I’ve survived to live another day.

Living and Loving as an Introvert

I have never re-blogged anything before, but this just had to be shared. I have tried often to describe the intricacies that make up who I am, but this completely sums up how I feel. I was particularly touched by it, because I have spent nearly a week in the company of my kids; just us, away from the rest of the world. It’s hell. It’s torture. I get no break – they are there when I wake up, and when I go to sleep. I know why it’s tough for me, but reaffirmation that I am not just mean or nasty, is always good. Anyway – enjoy the read, I did!

dorkymum

good advice

*stands up*

*shuffles nervously*

*clears throat*

Hello. My name’s Ruth and I am an introvert.

Would you believe that it has taken me 31 years to say that?

Most of those years have been taken up with saying other things. No, I’m not anti-social. No, I’m not shy. No, it’s not that I hate people, or that I hate you, or that I’m a badly brought up Awkward Annie.

I’m just an introvert.

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