I feel like I don’t give myself enough credit. This somehow builds enough confidence in me that I actually try to do something about whatever made me feel bad in the first place. Like now, for instance. I’m feeling really low for being physically disabled and not working. My mind works pretty good but I have things that get in my way like migraines, lethargy, being forgetful, easily distracted and having anxiety. I’m at a point where I want to work but when I start to think of actually going somewhere that other people go to do the same or similar job or where someone might actually depend on me for reliability and efficiency, I start to have mini panic attacks right in the high center of my chest. I don’t feel this fast-paced, whatever people talk about, I feel like…like a bolo tie is dangling from the inside of my neck with its iron slider pressed into my sternum and it’s long leathery strings are hanging low and tickling me below my diaphragm. It’s quite uncomfortable and I realize that thinking I’m shorting myself on credit is just a sad attempt at optimism..
Right now, I should make the phone calls I’ve been procrastinating to make. I need to call my doctor for a refill; I need to call to schedule a wellness check for Skas and I need to call the property office to get maintenance out here to finish fixing the holes in my walls made by plumbers in February. Why haven’t I done these things? Because of that damn bolo tie! I call the doctor’s office and suddenly I start to stutter, I can’t remember all the details that I need to relay to the receiver of my call so that they understand exactly why I’m calling and I have difficulty remembering all that they say even if I’m writing it down as they speak. I am usually so overwhelmed that I am even too afraid to ask them to repeat because I’ve already asked them to repeat other parts of the short conversation.
They patched and textured the holes in our walls but it needs new paint; floor tiles and a fence need replacing. I want these things done so I can get over worrying about when these dudes are going to come knocking on my door requesting entry to work. You’d think this would get me on the phone to get these guys here but it doesn’t…it just doesn’t. I don’t want people in my house while I’m here. Believe it or not, I prefer people I don’t know in my home when I’m not in it. I don’t like the empty formalities and pointless conversations about your stupid life and I don’t want to share details about my stupid life and I certainly do not want to explain my stroke, AVM, and disabilities to you. People always have the same reaction and the same stupid questions that really don’t mean much because they aren’t even trying to listen or understand the answers. It’s pointless, being social is pointless. I don’t want to get up to go pee in front of you, I don’t want to have to ask when you’ll be done because I’m hungry and am too shy to eat in front of you. And you know what, I just want my house alone. That’s how I roll….in solitude.
So here I am, all alone at my computer wondering if this new bulb is too bright or not because I’m actually trying to discourage anyone from coming over; maybe if they knock and I don’t answer, they’ll think I’m napping in the back room. This is very typical of me. It’s like I decide when I wake up if I can handle people or not. Some days I have the door wide open, music blaring and I’m just singing and cleaning. It doesn’t matter that less than six months ago a boy was shot in the face only three or four buildings over from mine or that a woman was robbed at gunpoint while walking from her car to her door with her son two cul-de-sacs over from mine; when I’m ready for the world, I’m a loud extrovert that is hard to miss. But the other 75% of the time I have my doors closed, all lights off but one, no T.V and no other sounds but those of my fingers on the keyboard. This is how I “rescue” myself. I write, I blog, I find photos that suit my mood and I put them on Tumblr or Pinterest. I try to connect my emotions with my words or pictures or use them to my benefit and match them with characters in my stories. My head is very loud almost all the time because of all the thoughts traveling through the many channels of my brain. It’s so very overwhelming sometimes. If I posted all the things I write, this blog would be so long it would take too long to read half of it! Sometimes I just need to get these things out even if I just delete whatever I wrote afterwards.
It’s kind of like when you’re younger and all the grown-ups are trying to teach you methods to get rid of your anger, disappointment, or hurt without damaging any relationships you may have. “Write a letter and burn it” or some people say “fuck it, send it” because that’s better than feeling some way about someone for whatever reason and just keeping it to yourself. That solves nothing.
So this is how I became an “Introvert.” A long time ago, kids, they didn’t call it this. They used to call you reclusive, eccentric….a loner. It was pretty simple really. Over time things got complicated, however. Emily Dickinson was always known for her reclusiveness. She didn’t like most people; she preferred her family and close friends of her family over going out and finding her own friends. Now, recluse is a stigmatized term. We use it to reference people more like hoarders that hide behind their mountains of treasures that no one would want to associate with if given the option. We reserve the title eccentric for those that can afford to decorate their artistic insanity, loneliness and introversion with “class.” Loner, well, most of us know what that is. It’s a teen consumed by angst, social anxiety and most likely topped with a head of greasy hair. These terms are already stigmatized , whether in the negative or other.
Now we say introverts. We are the same as the reclusive, the eccentric, the loners. I honestly don’t care what you call me. I just want to be left alone to paint, write, read and just be alone. Introvert is just a fancy term people use so they don’t feel boring or old or lonely. It’s okay to want to be alone. It doesn’t make you sad or odd or whatever. To me, it means you are comfortable with who you are, you don’t mind your own company…you aren’t lying to yourself about who you are to satisfy the wants of others.
I’m comfortable being alone. I don’t push everyone away; obviously, since I’m married and have two kids. My anxiety does close me off and restricts me from pursuing more challenging activities like having a job, but even without my anxiety, I still prefer to be alone. I like to think that just after high school I had defeated my anxiety. I had a job, dated, went to clubs and bars and made new friends somewhat on my own. Yet, even then I would spend time alone as often as I could. I still wrote short stories, turned off all lights but one and sat for hours painting, drawing, reading, whatever. I just wanted that alone time, just me and whatever was in my head. I think this stroke and its long recovery process resurrected my anxiety but I think the positive take away is that I am fortunate enough to indulge in my lust for solitude when I wasn’t allowed to before. My time alone was limited to days off from work and sometimes that was one day a week. That day was usually spent catching up on other more important things like cleaning the toilet and folding laundry. And then I’d get cranky because I’d feel pent-up and I guess you could say closed off from myself. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. I’d feel antsy but instead of being restless to get up and do something, I was anxious to sit down and be calm and reflective. I’m given the time to do this now because of my stroke. Without the stroke and it’s painfully restrictive residual effects I’d still be high-strung, cranky and overall bitchy without any real clue about why. The stroke has allowed me to find myself with the help of my anxiety guiding me towards the acceptance of my affinity for solitude. Without this, I’d still feel different from everyone else and now I’m coming around to understanding that “feeling different” just means I’m presenting the version of me that is natural and unforced. I’ve always felt most comfortable on days when I said “fuck it” and went outside of everyone else to do what I felt from inside and not trying to match everyone on the outside. Those people are probably just better at hiding their discomfort than I have ever been. I just need to apply this type of thinking to my disability in hopes of once again defeating my anxiety. If I can fully accept my disability as now being a part of who I am, I really believe that I could squish my anxiety into a nearly non-existent issue once again.