Monday, 23 January 2017

Who do I talk to?

As I start to write this, it's eleven o'clock at night, and I've just got back from a bachata class where I sat through a number of songs without getting up to dance.  You wouldn't know it, but I'm sat here crying, desperately trying to maintain my focus on the screen, and generally feeling quite emotional.  At the same time, I feel it's wrong to be this way, because I was born into a time when we were told that men didn't cry.

I hugged a friend earlier.  We don't have the kind of friendship in which that kind of physical contact happens, but she told me something that made the hug feel appropriate.  Actually, if I hadn't responded in that way, I would now be cursing myself for not responding in the way I should.  The hug was a very honest expression of what she means to me as a friend, and an equally honest response to what she had to tell me.

Unfortunately, a hug isn't just a hug for me.  I hide a lot of what I feel from the world.  I waited until I was alone before I cried.  I waited until I was alone before I let the full weight of my feelings hit me.  In public, it's like I'm wearing a mask which hides what I'm feeling.  A hug can send that mask crashing to the floor, where it shatters into a million pieces (I also wrote that last bit in a response I made to a question on Quora - I think the imagery sums it up nicely).

So, I'm sat here, overwhelmed by emotion.  This is the part of me that no one sees.  I've heard from a number of sources recently that I should be more open, and I'm trying my best with that.

A good friend asked me, just last week, who I would talk to if I needed someone to talk to.  It's a question I've been asked a number of times.  The answer is that there are people who get little snippets of what's on my mind, but I'm still quite protective of my inner world, as it were.  Instead, I do things like sitting here, alone, and just trying to come to terms with the fact that I've allowed myself to become an emotional wreck.

Do you want to know something?  Being an emotional wreck seems to be just what I need right now.  I'm alone, so I don't have to feel embarrassed about it, and so much has happened over the last number of months that any one of those things could have seen me feeling like I feel right now.  There's a sense that I need to feel like this, that this is some kind of release.  Maybe if my friend could see me, she'd wish she hadn't told me her news at this time, but I actually should be thanking her.  Maybe she'd get another hug.

I'm releasing a whole load of repressed feelings, and to my mind, that's healthy.  This seems to be my way of dealing with things.  I'm sorry if this post is disjointed but, considering what I'm feeling right now, to me it seems surprisingly eloquent.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Thought for the day: introversion

When someone says I'm the quiet, reflective type, or the strong, silent type, I know what they're talking about. Sometimes, I wish I could be different. I often question whether, if I'd had a more outgoing nature, I'd be spending quite so much time alone now. The world seems to favour those who are more open, vocal and better able to promote themselves.

Sometimes, the loneliness affects me more. This is one of those times. A week ago, I was still with the woman I love. The key point is that being around other people doesn't always cure the loneliness. Sometimes, being a part of the crowd can feel like the loneliest place on Earth. Yeah, it's the old cliché about being alone in a crowd. The happy medium is talking with someone, one to one, who gets it. The nature of this thing is that you often still find yourself listening more than you speak, but having someone there who understands is beyond value to you.

A lot of people don't understand. They talk, and talk some more, and become frustrated by the lack of response. There's no question that I'm listening, but I suppose the defining quality of this thing is that we don't JUST listen: we carefully consider what's been said (and, in my case, a load of stuff that hasn't been said) before we even think about formulating our own reply. I'm not saying that other people don't think before they speak, though it sometimes seems that way, but us quiet types probably spend more time considering what's been said and how to respond. In conversations where people interrupt each other, cut each other off and talk at the same time, we don't stand a chance.

Some sources compare introversion to the battery on a mobile phone, and say that an introvert's energy quickly drains in social situations. That's true to a point, but I'd say it depends on the type of social situation. I know a few people who don't drain my energy. Sometimes I need to disconnect and take time to think about things, but some people allow me the space to think, as though they somehow understand how much it's needed.

If there's too much noise, too much external stimuli or other environmental cues, then I'm more likely to feel drained much more quickly. I'll probably leave, if that's the case, but I'll wish I didn't have to leave.
I hope I've explained this well.  According to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, I'm a particular type of introvert, known as an INFJ, so others may experience introversion in a different way.  My hope is that what I've written helps someone, though, whether they're an introvert or someone who is trying to gain a better understanding.