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

 

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.