Saturday, November 15, 2014

How Wrong You Were

If you have the notion that I am the quintessential "extrovert," I am sorry to inform you that you are incorrect. "Wrong"would be the "wrong" word because there are so many things in this world that truly are, and having a mistaken notion does not hold a candle to those things. But, just in case you have pegged me as such, I would like to dispel that mistaken notion and tell you that I am the exact opposite.

I am an "introvert"!

There probably are a lot of things that you don't know about us introverts.  If you care to bone up, have a look at this, I could replace the photos with those of myself, several of my family members and a few of my friends.

In a room filled with smiling, happy and bubbly people, you might be hard-pressed to single us out.  We look and pretty much act the same as the rest of the party-goers but.......we may have been actually pushed through the door and forced to enter the party.  Chances are, we have a certainty that we would not have been missed had we not been forced to come.   Sometimes, we don't show up.  We figure you've invited so many other people and you won't even notice our absence.  If we give the party, we are devastated if you don't show up.  We love having all of you there and we want you to stay forever.  Odd ducks, we are.

We can participate in conversations, give speeches, get to be known as "dramatic" and "out-going"but we really and truly would rather be at home, getting back our energy, on our own turf, alone.  We're the first to leave just about anywhere, any time.  You'll never catch us lingering over coffee or begging for an encore.
We're sociable and love people. We just have our needs and we're fine once we feel that we have spent enough time with ourselves. We're not rude.  We're well-bred.  We're not shy.

We need, value and love solitude. That's how we re-generize.

It took most of my life to understand this.  I always thought that I was an extrovert, that I was the least shy person on the face of the Earth, and that everyone who ever met me believed the same. They did not know of my constant worry that I would start to hyperventilate and soon after have a full-blown anxiety attack at exactly the wrong time.

I am NOT, not, not, the life of the party, nor do I ever want to be.  I envy the real lives of the parties, those who did not suffer an attack of nausea just before ringing the door bell, those who leave the party without the sinking feeling that they are being "discussed" as soon as they leave the driveway.  Lucky you, whomever you are!

My father is a classic example of an introvert.  Oh, he and my mom had lots of friends, gave many wonderful parties, hosted holidays and gave mountains of joy to lots of men, women  and children in their younger days.
But, I've learned a lot more about them since my mother's death than I ever learned about them during her lifetime.  I realize now how hard she worked at it.  She was not an introvert.  She got her energy from her social encounters, rarely enjoying time alone, always needing to be out and about.  An empty restaurant for instance, made her nuts.  Spending an entire day home, she was not content.  She needed to see people, to engage with the outside. She did the party-entrance-pushing.  I used to think of myself as a carbon copy (remember those?) of Mother.  You're never too old to learn something new.  I'm my father in more ways.
He is happiest when he is alone. Without her, he can now be the person he always was, without restraint, without apology.  And when I'm with him, for those short visits that we both can endure, so can I.

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