Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Case For Introversion. Delights of a Hermit. Maybe it's a bit of an Aspie mentality?

I LOVE being indoors. I love the outdoors too but only enough to be inspired by them and get ideas to bring them indoors. My yard is large enough to soak up the fresh air and my home is full of plants, greenery and inspiring artwork. I am a Hermit and happy with it. In fact, any personality test I get, whether the day I am born (which is the sign of the Hermit) or my INFJ type, states that I need the maximum time alone in a comfortable environment in order to thrive. Being socialized and being sociable are two completely different principles. I am not sure if this is just me or if it's part of being an Aspie...but I do know other Aspies who are not as introverted as I am. However, I am often mistaken for an Extrovert. If I feel I am helping someone or contributing to their lives, I will be a prominent fixture initially, until I am either too drained to go on or until (in most cases) I have set them up with people, books or information they need to move forward in life without me. This scares people. Perhaps I trigger abandonment issues? I try to ease out of lives without them even considering that I helped or enhanced. I find most people gently leave my life because I either mirror something they would prefer not to see so they distance from me or I slowly distance myself by setting them up with their new connections. It is so much easier on them if they feel in control. There have been a few times in my life when I have not been ready for someone to leave, but they have because life was calling them excitedly to new ideas or paths...working on letting go and boundaries helped me see that even if they are not present in my life, I am still allowed to care from the sidelines.

I love the concept of people, even darkness in them or messiness, but BEING with people on a regular or DAILY basis, even with my best intents, can eventually cause hospital trips. I can actually take on their physical or emotional issues. I love to help heal and counsel. I love to see people balanced or whole or embracing their messy humanness. This means I do not want to contribute to a sense of harm nor a feeling that they were not enough. I have no problems giving versions of truthful insight if that is what needed, but even truth is relative and I tell them only to take what feels true to them. Sometimes this is enough for them to leave me. Who wants to face their demons other than Idealists?

Many of my relationships gave me so many new perspectives on life. I find I am best long distance or for short spurts of closeness followed by long months of absence. The friends who have managed to stay in my life have some easy flow of this sort of existence. Sometimes people know what they wanted to see FROM me but never really who I am. 

I find most people prefer those like them. True colours can be ignored, corrected or misunderstood even if a person is truly giving understanding, compassion and thoughtful advice back. Very few people know who I am in all my forms. I am known for what I was to them or what role I played in their life. Nothing is wrong with relationships that work this way but I DO need time away from this and to hold close the few people in my life who actually KNOW me (my children, husband and best friend are the core. But I also have a small core beyond this intimacy with a few others that work with a little less input but not less value.) My own parents only know facets of me and in childhood it was easy to be misunderstood with Autism, sensory issues, undiagnosed Dyspraxia and my personality.  I mirror what is chosen to see. I found I can induce fear... of life with a lack of conventions and rules, of the way I genuinely live, of who I am deep down... my beliefs, my reasons for choices...most of it scares people. I used to make the error of trying to explain or expose and it was always misunderstood because of fear or a boxed mind. Thus, I took a step away from most people in boundaries not because I am anxious or depressed but because I know they probably can not handle who I am or my beliefs (people tend to prefer people who have lots of black and white ethics and belief patterns) and I no longer can handle trying to shield or explain all the time. It's one of my many weaknesses and I just am not a place in my life where I have that energy I did in my twenties to sustain that tenacity.

I know when I am anxious or depressed. I am well trained in all of the signs, as most of my sensory overload my entire life was treated mistakenly as either anxiety or depression. Plus, I have experienced legitimate depression and anxiety, and one who has gone through it KNOWS the difference. Both Depression and Anxiety need to be taken seriously and I do not minimize them. (Please see side labels for different posts on PTSD, PPD, and PMDD or Anxiety) but I do want to challenge the mentality that a happy life is lived outside the home or in social contexts and that a sign of depression is when it is not.

I am as Introverted as they come. Reading Susan Cain's book was a validation but nothing was new to me. I KNOW I do better with less people in my life or at least less physical presence of people. I prefer my friends in email, online or with visitation spurts. There are only 5 people in my life I can see constantly and those are my husband, kids and best friend. Even then, I need a break. This is not to say that I devalue people. My INFJ personality loves to heal, to counsel and to bring forth new ideas and inspiration into the world, and especially to friends that I love. I don't love them any less simply because I am fine seeing them once or twice a year with some emails in between.

My home is my haven (see Home Decor Label on side.) It's my canvas, my art, my inspiration, my sanctuary, my garden, my dream, and the place where I become simply by being. I find that when I am around too many other voices I lose sight of my purpose. I am enlightened, inspired and hope filled within my walls. I find The Source, or God or the Universe or  Energy, or whatever name you want to put on it, most tangible when I am creatively living my purpose inside my home. I home school my children because I also believe they need this environment even if a couple of them are light extroverts whom I concede to feed their need for more people by having friends in our home. I prefer most play dates at our house but we do go out also.

My newly constructed Master Bedroom:) 

None of this is unhealthy. None of these factors mean I give less to the world. None of these factors play into the types of depression I have had in the past. Depression in the past has accompanied the following factors: too many people speaking into my life, feeling out of control due to hormonal fluctuations, traumatic experiences or lack of sleep. Disclaimer: I am NOT saying that shutting oneself in a home is not a sign of depression because some extroverts or those who thrive on being alive outdoors will have this as a significant sign of depression. But for myself, I could live almost 100 percent happy in my home forever. I go outside. I love to visit my parent's, grandparent's and best friend in their cozy havens, and I love trips to nearby cities, but even these have to be spread out in moderation. This is because I get immensely drained by sensory overload, other people's energies and moods, and the world in general.

My theory is that if women were considered equal back in the day as the seers, monks, advisers to the court or whatever without being mistaken for a Witch, I would have been respected. Women who were most often the Natural healers with herbs ect, the Douala's or Midwifes, the women who spoke up or were different or had incredible insight were subject to death simply because they were women. If I was a male monk during those moments, I would have never been pushed to go beyond what I do in normal circumstances without a clinical label being slapped on it. In fact, people would have admired my seclusion. I would have been praised for my bravery to be alone. I would have been revered for the capability to be able to have such quiet. This does not mean I do not value the beauty of actively going out into community or being in nature. I take these exercises in humanity seriously enough to give of myself even when it drains me at times, or to be revived in nature when there is a change of pace needed. However, outside is full of sensory drains for an Autistic Introvert. Being with people is full of colourful energies and emotions for an INFJ/ Scorpio.***

I am often told from enlightened people who understand depths, that I can often be a mirror in short conversations. People who get frustrated with me do not understand whom they are really frustrated with: themselves. I am a mirror who shows what people want or whom they are. I absorb their energies and emotions and while with them, become what they are, while knowing where I begin and where they start. Often this is not seen or this difference is not understood. That does not make them any less. It is completely understandable. I hear that many balanced Aspies often are mirrors. My personality type is rare in all it's manifestations (including Autism) and it is not meant to be understood by most.

I never get myself confused with another person nor do I find myself EVER wanting to be someone else. I did however, make this mistake often in my twenties (wanting to be something I wasn't) and that in itself revved up anxiety and depression. I am who I am and am happy with it. Would I love to trade in some Dyspraxic traits? YES, but sometimes we have to come to 70 percent peace with our flaws. The other 30 percent is healthy anger or frustration inspiring what we can change (or blog posts to help those who also struggle!:)

There are a few closed doors from people who misused their presence in my life but it takes a lot to get me to the point to ever fully close a door. Understanding happens once individual emotions are worked through. Because I need to find the beauty in myself when most people do not see it, I will find the beauty in them when they cannot see it themselves. This way of life can hurt but it is not meant to be hurtful. It is simply allowing life to take it's course of ebb and flow. I have made the mistake of trying to explain this to ease hurt but have found it only amplifies it. I WILL be there for a smile if we bump into each other and I will eagerly hear about their lives. There is a difference between not being friends and not being present if life demands a presence. If life demands it- I will be there and I will always love.

Sometimes we need to close doors. Not because someone was bad or wrong for us but because life is asking us to take a new journey that needs alone time or a new acquaintance. Sometimes we have simply gone as far as we can go without repetitive or unchanging behaviours which can trigger unhealthy states. We can't stay stagnant without ill health. The trick is allowing this to happen without being wounded to our core. I used to feel wounded when someone moved on either physically or in spirit but now I celebrate it after the initial (and natural) sadness. They have a new journey and I was lucky to be part of theirs for awhile.

I am a happy hermit. I see the frenzy, stress and dis-ease of many who claim to love busyness or tons of people. Some extroverts genuinely do, but the rest? I think it's partially conditioned...especially if they are not content in at least 70 percent of themselves. Where do all the lessons get them? Where do the Degrees take them? The constant interactions? Where does the endless pursuit of knowledge, stability or  adventure take them? If it's for pleasure's sake partaking in life - it is all good, but if it is the driving force to what is perceived as happiness - how exactly is that working for them? I do not thrive or need the identification of busyness or participation to have value. Nor do I believe I am less compassionate or human by being more isolated. I am balanced except when I am not...and I am okay with that too. I am inspired, hopeful and part of the world we all create. I am no less because I decide to spend less time outside my home...and if there are any other fellow Hermits and their less isolated cousins, the Introverts, I want you to know that you are fine if you enjoy the content and quality of your life in quiet. You bring beauty.

I look at all the unique souls in my life I have been blessed to have different types of relationships with and my heart swells with gratitude. Relatives or nemesis who challenged me by misunderstanding or being cruel forced me to face myself in these circumstances because I could not change them, and learned how to grow in my own boundaries. I can honestly say that the amount of true wrong relationships in my entire life equals less than two hands. The rest of the people have been a variety of relationship depths that took up permanent residence in my heart. My heart is full of spots that stretch to fill if they enter back in, and comfortably fill in whenever they are not around.

I believe my life is fully lived. I adore my existence about 97 percent of each day even though I live with physical pain everyday. Most of our life has been formed by hard choices and counter cultural ways of existing which are definitely not easy but for me, they have been rewarding. We never are running to various appointments. Our kids are not in every possible sport, music lesson, extra curricular ect. We pick two extra events per year and stick with that. We have most of our days to JUST BE...which seems to be what most people want but do not think they can attain. Stepping out of the rat race is tough and comes with a few of it's own problems but our beautiful existence of reading, learning, going outside, drawing, playing casually on instruments of choice, rough and tumble creativity, maintaining and putting down roots and learning new skills is worth it for the precious time we have on this earth. My husband does not strive to crawl up any career ladder thinking it will hold the key to a more beautiful life...everything just IS...and in that BEING we find our belonging and meaning. Some have accused us of taking the easy route. In every choice it has been an intentional route that ruffles MANY feathers and causes many people to feel judged or like we are just lucky...that is not how it happens but unless one digs deep- one will never know.

I have my own set of problems and joys and I regret none of them. Envy is not something I take with me. I do take the pain of others and myself and I take doses of anger and definitely impatience, but gratitude is a gift that keeps my perspective a little more healthy. I do believe this is because of my introverted existence. I wish I could be a fully realized Hermit but in my circumstances this would not be possible. I have kids to raise and a place in society that DOES demand a bit of extroverted participation, but I like to have a certain amount of isolation because it enables me to realize higher levels of intuition, knowledge, wisdom, and truthful awareness. This also reflects soul searching and truth. The secrets of a Hermit existence would take too many posts to unlock. This is just a facet. Being a Introvert is not greater than being an Extrovert, but it is not less either as so much of our cultural authority suggests. It is simply different. A way of Being that benefits from solitude and rest.

May you find your way of Being in the world and follow it avidly without apology and with greater compassion.

These two songs are a couple of my favourites describing this way of life:)


S said...

I have noticed that introverts like to be themselves, alone in their quiet world without having the need to force their views on others. They are self contained and they do not have problems with accepting different points of views. Introverts are also very self-aware and sensitive. Anyway, as I am ageing, I am feeling that my introversion is going deeper than ever before. However, just like you, I present an "extroverted" face to the world but not an overtly extroverted one.
It is difficult to be extroverted as that is not my basic nature-I would rather be quiet and listen to others...Also I have sensory issues particularly regarding noise.
I am lucky in some ways. My hubby is introverted too. My own parents and sibling are introverted too.But my extended family is not. I have difficulties when I have to communicate with my extended family. I have to explain a lot to them why I do not like something- something that is taken for granted in an extroverted world.
As I see my future-I see a lot of introversion in my life without having to explain to others why.
As for friends and other people, when I communicate with them, I have noticed a pattern just like you...they feel conflicted when they talk to me...they are puzzled as to why I made so many unique and eccentric/weird choices in my life, why I am a homebody, etc.etc. They are curious, puzzled but I do not try to address their curiosity because weirdness is mysterious and you cannot logically explain it to other people.

Ashe Skyler said...

I've noticed that odd mirror phenomenon. And it's blasted hard to explain to people that they're not really mad at me and actually mad at themselves. Even harder not taking it personally when they make up wild accusations about me that don't mix at all with my personality.

Many moons ago, I was an INFJ/counselor. These days I almost always score as the INTJ/mastermind. All's well, I reckon. I'm no good at emotional support anyway, I do better plotting and scheming solutions. :P

Being introverted really can be a very pleasant life. It can be quiet, peaceful, and rather relaxing. How unhealthy can it be when it makes you so happy? It can be fun to exert a lot of energy with busy social gatherings like an extrovert, but that's a little too exhausting for me to keep up for very long. I guess it's part of that "she-Aspie chameleonism", but apparently I've got a good extroverted mask. Or maybe it's an introvert's survival technique?

One thing that is hard to adjust to is having to keep the vast majority of yourself locked up and tucked away because people are such fragile, flighty little things that are easily spooked. And I don't even have a fascination for the really scary stuff like swimming with ten-foot-long sharks while holding chum! Oh well. Good thing for introversion, eh? Sometimes yourself is the only person you can talk to.

Kmarie Audrey said...

S: You are right...they may have deep rooted strong values but they can see all sides and do not impose those values ( even if they speak passionately of them at times) on is very rare that they do and mostly it happens in the early twenties if at all... Yes age increases introversion I suspect.
I LOVE your last paragraph as that enhances exactly what I was saying. It can not be explained and it bothers some. I am glad i am in the company of you:)

Ahse: Yes the mirror phenomenon is very interesting... wild accusations suck but wha can one do? Lol your results are awesome.
Yes- exactly- excellent point- how unhealthy can it be???!!! Perhaps it is a survival thing?
Yes that is hard...I found it really hard in my twenties but less hard in my gets is great to be at peace with oneself:)

nyssa said...

breath of fresh air, reading this. I understand so well, all of this. We've faced similar issues, (sometimes eerily so). I will read this again because you were a mirror for me, just reading this. Sometimes, I feel very very alone ( but not lonely as I am a hermit too). you have a real gift for writing from the soul. I love that about you xo

Kmarie Audrey said...

Nyssa: Yes we have faced eerily similar things...its like your a soul sister. I am glad you love my soul writings:) I also love that about you:) xoxo

Full Spectrum Mama said...

This very much spoke to me as well.
Like you, I love people and often act as a healer, yet feel as if I am navigating relationships in a unique way that might seem odd to some.
Both of my children are extroverts and would spend all their time with me if i didn't sometimes shut myself in the bathroom (my partner is a chef and rarely around). Sometimes I get so overwhelmed from being around people - even my own dear children - that i feel real despair...
THank you for seeing the witchy, wise aspect of being alone, and for advocating for introversion as a viable and necessary form of being. Now to get me some solitude.
Love to you <3

Kmarie Audrey said...

Full Spectrum Mamma:
Glad this spoke to you...I can def see the healer aspect of you...and I agree about navigation that can seem odd...I used to felt that way too but now that the kids are a little older and they know mommy will go batty if I don't get alone time - I seem to have it more...
I love the witchy yet wise aspect of being alone...It is a NECESSARY form of being...Yay for solitude...thank you for stopping by and validating my experience!

FlutistPride said...

I'm a high sensation seeker ENTP Aries. It's a matter of finding what is for you. The hermit lifestyle, personally, would not be for me. I would be sick, lethargic, and depressed within a week. Even online learning days (days where I go to school at home on my computer) are rough for me. I learn best by explaining things to other people, which I call "interpersonal learning". This is why I think I should be a teacher. However, since you feel best in solitaire, you do that. I am a very "whatever works" person and love to live vicariously through reading and writing.

Kmarie A. said...

That makes sense...I am a Scorpio...high passion but in certain areas and strangely valuing stability...I LOVE the concept of people and enjoy having people over but every single time...even if I enjoy it immensely and look super great when they leave...immediately after the door is closed I feel relief and then I get sick. Every time. Right now I am sick and calming down from an excellent evening with another family but my stomach is so bad and I feel like I have a sensory flu...and its just from socialization. Yup. I agree that it is best for what suits you...I think you would make a good teacher! And Yes I also love to live vicariously through reading and writing!
Interpersonal learning is awesome!:)