Permission to be an introvert, please.

“Caring for your introvert” from Atlantic Monthly

Today I just want to hide.
Disappear.
Snap my fingers and “poof” into a wisp of smoke.

Even the idea of social interaction exhausts me. I’d like to crawl into a cocoon and not come out until I feel better. I’m well aware that this feeling is a direct reaction to the changes taking place around me and the stress that produces, coupled with my perpetually annoying roller coaster ride of hormones. Why do the “big events” always occur during PMS week? Add these factors to my naturally introverted self and I want to hide under my desk.

No. Seriously. I contemplated hiding under my desk this morning.

I’ve hidden under a desk before. I was eight or nine and my paternal grandparents had come to visit. My grandmother had a very strong personality. It was her custom, upon arrival, to greet us with hugs and kisses. She kissed everyone on the lips. Ew. NO ONE kissed on the lips at my house except my parents. So, upon their arrival, feeling anxious and insecure and desperate to avoid this physical, emotional, and mental assault on my hypersensitive little person, I opted to flee instead of fight. When my absence was noted, my mother found me, curled up under the desk in her office. (I think the event traumatized her almost as much as it did me.)

And so, although no one is coming to kiss me today (except maybe my hubby, and that’s okay), the combined effect of our dear friends whom I haven’t seen in two years arriving in town and the strange shift in our relationship as we transfer the oversight of the church to them; a wedding I feel obligated to attend this evening; grandbaby’s dedication tomorrow at church; it being my husband’s last day as pastor and mine as pastor’s wife; and facing a kind of “blank slate” future, I can feel myself withdrawing.

Can I just shrink into the crack between the sofa cushions and hide there for awhile? (I’d have at least a month’s worth of food in the form of popcorn and lost Skittles.)

On top of this overwhelming urge to adopt temporary hermit status, is an equally overwhelming guilt that by doing so, I am shirking my responsibilities as a member of the human community. That I am just being selfish and unfeeling and unloving. In the past, I learned to push through these sensations by turning them into anger, irritation and downright bitchiness. I can’t seem to do that anymore.

If I had, say, shingles or malaria, no one would think twice about me staying safe and snug at home to hide and rest. But saying, “I’m having a bout with extreme introversion today,” doesn’t carry the same weight.

Introvert
What I need is permission, from myself, from my loved ones. Like a note from the doctor to get out of P.E. class. I’ll be ready to stick my head out of the shell again soon, I’m sure of it. Permission, acceptance, whatever you want to call it … would go a long way toward reducing the tormenting guilt experienced by introverts everywhere that, I’m convinced, only exacerbates the problem.

Maybe if I made up a little permission slip … a little note on my door like a “quarantine” warning.

But then I would have to explain, and fend off all the arguments extroverts like to stir up with introverts. How come introverts aren’t always telling the extroverts to stay home, find a place to hide, shut up, and be alone for awhile? Why are we always the ones on the defensive?

The desk is looking more and more appealing by the moment.

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