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Introverts, rejoice (in hiding, of course)

28 Mar

8:53 pm

Well, if no one else is going to say it, I might as well:  as an introvert, I’m kind of loving this social-distancing, sheltering-in-place stuff.  I mean, I haven’t seen any media story cover the COVID-19 pandemic with the angle of, how do introverts feel to “have” to be alone all the time.  It feels like the elephant in the room when I’m talking to people who really know me.  I keep joking about it, like, haha, this is how I usually live, my life hasn’t changed at all, secretly wondering if I was, am, and will be judged for being an introvert (some might say that I am bordering on hermetic these days).

Of course, all the stories zero in on extroverts, or are written from the (more common?) extrovert mindset:  this sucks, to not be able to have human contact, to not be able to get together, to not be able to talk or hug in person.

Um, not if you’re an introvert!  It kind of truly is how I live my life most of the time.  And, a part of me feels slightly scared (is there something terribly wrong with me?) and another part is intrigued (what is it about me, about my own company, that sustains me more than that of others?).  For me, the timing of this pandemic is a relief, considering my days and nights are stressed by work and trying to maintain a sense of sanity and normalcy in the face of my severe perimenopausal night heat.  As an introvert, I find myself thinking, I finally don’t have to make excuses anymore for not wanting to go out or be with other people in a social setting!

I mean, I am used to working from home, but also, spending my time alone and doing a lot of things alone–and preferring it that way!  Even to me, that still sounds bad, but it’s taken me 45 years to not feel the urge to apologize for who I am; it’s probably never going to feel perfectly right, but at least I’m on my way toward being more accepting of myself.

Like, my life is pretty much EXACTLY the same as it was pre-lockdown:  I spend all day home, alone, working, except for the (admittedly relieving–even introverts need connection!) conference calls that I typically almost always conduct via voice (we don’t normally dial in using video); I work out alone; I usually don’t go out to dinner or (gasp!) the bars anymore.  Once in a while, I’ll hang out with a friend or go to the beach with a group, but it’s rare.

Of course, I have my people, those one or two or three people whom I’ve let in, who know me, and with whom I can be myself.  Even still, I need my space and “me” time.  And, by that, I mean, time alone to observe, to process–and, to get the kind of deep, soulful feedback from myself that I need to feel full, whole, good.  I’m not saying I don’t enjoy others’ company; more often than not, though, I prefer my own, maybe because I am overly self-conscious, maybe because I feel like I “get more back” (in terms of what makes me feel grounded and optimistic) from my inner self.

That being said, I totally understand that feeling of being out of control and insane from spending too much time alone!  I’ve been working from home, as a writer, for almost a decade; what I’ve found helps me is this:

  • tracking my time (making to-do lists, writing in a journal);
  • processing the negative thoughts that just start to whir when you’re alone a lot (again, writing in a journal is essential to me getting all that junk down on digital paper, as it were, and letting it go/clearing the way for positive thoughts); and
  • doing things outside my home (and, that could be, doing yoga on the deck instead of in my bedroom, just to see a change of scenery).

It’s not easy, and I feel for people who don’t have significant others, pets–anything to help you feel less up in your head after a long day of being and working alone.  I have hated it at times, but, the alternative is one, not being a writer (I’ve done that, and I’m probably going to do that again–though an introvert, I can swing toward extroversion for extended periods of time as well; a true Gemini!); and two, writing from an office with people around me, which isn’t really different from writing alone at home except there are people around me, talking or distracting me.  I guess the biggest difference is that I don’t have coworkers to chat with, and that can grate on anyone’s nerves, even mine!  Dogs don’t talk back to you (in words, anyway).

And, all that being said, it does suck to not be able to go out and see friends, hug your people, etc. etc. etc.!  But, this, too, shall pass, this, too, shall pass.  (at least we don’t have to worry about keeping stocked with red wine, right?)

Post-hurricane life

25 Sep

4:23 pm

I’m here, just three weeks into surviving two Category 5 hurricanes in two weeks. Yep, Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit my part of the world, and it was bad.

I don’t even know what to say except, I’m grateful we had no damage, I’m grateful for my boo who has been busting ass getting us needed supplies, and I’m grateful for my own patience for waiting out our cell towers being marginally restored (thank you, diesel generators) while we wait patiently for our electricity to get turned back on (months in the making, no doubt).

The entire part of the world where I live has been decimated, but that’s not to say that every home is ruined, and every person is beaten down. We are here, surviving, and even thriving–I’ve rediscovered life without Facebook, in-real-life life, staring up at the stars at night from the hammock and truly, yes, truly being able to notice them without the mental and emotional distractions that come with electricity (tv shows, social media posts). I’ve started reading books again. And, I’ve finally started on some long overdue writing projects.

Not once have I thought about drinking; it’s just not what I do anymore. Sure, I’ve felt down and helpless (and even angry at myself for being in a daze and kind of not feeling as “intrepid” a disaster survivor as I guess I had imagined myself to be), but that has never translated into, wine will help or make it feel better. Yes, there are people getting high and drunk around me, and I have to admit, it sort of aggravates me; but I let it go so quickly that I don’t even have time–or want to invest time–to figure out why. It’s not important, and emotions are strong these days. Anyway, as I re-read some of my old blog posts, I realize just how grateful I should be that I don’t think about drinking in my darkest (literally) hour. I did SO much of that during my first year–but, that was 5 years ago, a long time ago. I’ve moved on, but maybe it’s going to take a hurricane (or two) to help me embody that reality by actually, forcing me to physically move (on)!

With military planes, three weeks later, still buzzing back and forth over the water outside, and relief helicopters transporting people to and fro; living out of coolers and dealing with an inordinate amount of mosquitoes; working from my deck off a hotspot connection in the gusting winds–a week after Maria, and the winds, man, the freaking winds!–it’s all taking time, focus, patience, diligence, and perseverance. I have those, though, and I’m grateful for that, too.

I promise to write more when things start to settle down…  Huge hugs to all just starting to get sober. Keep NOT drinking when you really, really want to drink, and that’s half the battle.

Another mass shooting. What is wrong with this picture?

15 Dec

12:15 pm

Yeah, it’s a little fuzzy, n’est-ce pas?

I won’t ramble for long, but here’s my take.

Here, in “USA, Inc.”, we have issues. We glorify violence, and honor competition. We promote rampant consumerism. This leads to alienation and isolation, anxiety and depression, to name JUST A FEW. It sort of makes you want to drink. Or, shoot people. I’m not being in any way ironic.

I have NO idea (mainly because the mainstream media chooses not to delve into the mental health issue since it makes a less compelling story than, let’s say, “evil-doings,” but I digress) what was going on inside the head of the shooter, but let me tell you something: there was a point–more than one, honestly–during my middle and high school years that were, actually, low enough to make me contemplate killing of beings, namely myself. The self-loathing and anger that resulted from my feeling ostracized/ridiculed at school for being a good student; for being from a family who weren’t, to be frank, hicks; for simply being creative/artistic (let’s not even go into sexual preferences and/or orientation)–it led me to binge eat and then, binge drink. I couldn’t deal, and most of the time, I didn’t know HOW to deal aside from writing and dancing my emotions out. Unfortunately, I was too inhibited to dance in front of others. Fortunately, I clung to my belief in my grades as my ticket out, as well as my writing–my life raft.

I don’t know what’s going on, really, with today’s kids, but by the time I got to my junior year of college, I had already gone through several major episodes of depression, been through the emotional mindfuck that is bulimia, and likely harbored some serious sociopathic leanings that never materialized, due to simply internalizing my hatred for the people who hated me (or so I thought). I was SO overwhelmed by a sense of “there is something seriously wrong with this place” that I HAD to escape. And I did, to France. Anything to get me away from the billboards, the commercials, the emptiness I felt at having everything and having nothing (and I came from a lower middle class family!). I felt suffocated by what I still see to be the ills of our society, which have NOTHING, really, to do with the “freedom” to own guns (there’s a great article in The New Yorker on the history of the first amendment’s “right to bear arms” clause):

1. Consumerism. The idea that things, instead of experiences, people, and places, will make you happy and/or content; that happiness and contentment, like EVERYTHING worth having, can be had by anything but hard work–attained over a period of years, if not an entire lifetime.
2. Glorification of violence. We can see it in everything from our movies to our wars, this “we’re-gonna-kick-your-head-in-cuz-we-can” mentality. (When I volunteered clearing rubble in [beautiful island] after the [natural disaster], the Brits and Aussies nicknamed the heaviest sledgehammer “‘Merica” because it could “smash a lot of shit and leave a mess behind.”)
3. Glorification of competition, egotism, greed, etc. Why aren’t more “feminine” ideologies instilled in us throughout our lives, like cooperation, conciliation, nonviolent conflict resolution? I guess I’m generalizing here, but how many of you would argue against the fact that most (all?) of these mass shootings have been perpetrated my men, and wars are declared mainly (exclusively?) by male leaders?

I wish it was different, but when I left “USA, Inc.” in 1994 for Tours and then Paris, France, I figuratively never looked back. Now, I’m living in [beautiful island], which I might consider a second-world country but would certainly agree that it’s NOT the mainland–and I feel like I can breathe, like I might never return to “that place.”

Anyhoo…how does this pertain to drinking? Well, all I can say is, I’ve never experienced this kind of grief, so I have no idea what I would do. BUT, I hope that I would not pick up. I mean, drinking almost seems pointless in situations like this; which, in a sense, is a testament to its futility in the face of confronting the things life throws our way.

I wish peace to all the families involved in this shiteous crime. That is all.

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