“What is the one thing you wish people better understood about something in your life?”
I think one of the hardest things to explain to people is that I’m an extroverted introvert. Adding to the madness is that I’m a chronic people pleaser. So while I love helping people, I also can’t say no to them, and by the time I’m finished doing the thing that’s been asked of me, I hate people and want to crawl under a blanket for at least a week.
Since becoming a mother, my tolerance for groups and people in general has greatly diminished. Instead of just going about my days like I used to and then holing up when it all finally hit me, I have to actively think about what is going to happen not only today, but the days following. I have to make sure I’m not too over-zealous with my time around humans. That’s not to say I won’t go in public. I spend much of my “day off” at a coffee shop or in stores. Even when I’m most peopled out, I still find myself in a yoga class. It’s that I need to ensure I’m not cramming my days full of actual human interaction.
Every week, I have to look at my schedule and decide what is required and what can be forgone for the sake of my sanity. And all of this is because I’m constantly at the beck and call of a two year old (who will soon be joined by an infant sister and then their daddy is going to go ahead and deploy for several months. That oughta be interesting for me). She’s always touching me or climbing on me or wanting “ups” or asking a question or showing me this trick or that thing. I can’t be certain, but I’m fairly sure she’s en extrovert through and through. She LOVES being around people. She’s constantly asking if her friends are coming over or if they’re going to be at the next place we’re heading to. Me? I’d be happy just sitting quietly and reading for a couple hours.
When I get overwhelmed with human interaction, it can come out in some pretty ugly ways. One of them is that I simply shut down. I start giving short, clipped answers to really benign questions. I seem a lot more upset than I really am. Then when I try to convince someone I’m not actually upset, I sound really insincere and bitchy…like I’m exceptionally pissed and am going to blow at any moment. I’m especially guilty of doing this to my poor husband who, upon returning to the house from a day at the hangar, is just looking for some human interaction himself. It’s just that I’m spent by then and all I want is to go to the bathroom or cook dinner in peace.
The other big way my introversion rears its ugly head is that I start clawing at my neck. I’ve definitely drawn blood a few times without knowing it. It’s a big reason I’m always wearing a necklace. It gives me something to fiddle with and hang on to that isn’t going to cause me bodily harm. I never actually knew I did this until a friend saw me clawing away at myself in an elevator in Las Vegas. She immediately got me and the rest of our party off the elevator and to a quiet hotel bar so I could calm down. I had no idea I was having an anxiety attack until she explained to me what she saw. She’s a doctor now. A really good doctor.
So yeah, it’s really hard to explain to people how much I love being around them, but when I’m done, I’m just done and that it has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of their company. Because I’m a people pleaser, I always want other people to be happy and comfortable, much of the time at my own expense. I love having people in my home. If I invite you over, I really really really want you to come. I want to share my space and my food with you. It’s just that the next day, I probably won’t want to talk to anyone so that I can recover and get ready for the next time I’m going to want to have people in my home. It’s exhausting to try to keep up with, I know.
Try living it.