Sunday, February 24, 2013

Are We There Yet?

I am very irritated today. My skin is crawling with the need to shut down. It almost feels like a physical pain.

Why, you might ask? Well, I'm not exactly sure, but all signs point to having had a few genuinely lovely and fun social interactions with smart, interesting people over the past few days. 

People I like, people I like to see, people I enjoyed seeing.

It seems like I should be able to do that and then just keep on going about my weekend, right? Isn't that what people do? Go out, do things, see friends, carry on?

Not me, apparently. Not yet, anyway. It doesn't seem to matter that nothing felt overwhelming at the time and it was great to see people and chat and just, you know, be a normal person. 

Today, I am fighting with myself over this weird discomfort. There is no reason for it. There is no excuse for it. It is not something I want. It is serving no purpose other than making me miserable and probably making my family wonder if I was occupied by an alien body-snatcher in the middle of the night.

I am not used to having moods to navigate. I'm not very good at it.

I suppose this is all a sign of emotional movement-- feelings are closer to the surface and I'm actually feeling them rather than ignoring them, etcetera, etcetera.

For once, it would be nice if the dominant feeling in situations like this weren't "I am an asshole."


I don't think I have anything particularly profound to say today. I'm in a mood. I wish it felt like progress to be able to say that, but it doesn't. This is definitely not the mood I would have chosen, if I'd been consulted on such things.

I guess it's still a matter of all stimuli being overwhelming, whether positive or negative. Too much is too much, no matter what flavor. That doesn't really seem fair. Good should stay good, shouldn't it? My lizard brain should be able to interpret that correctly by now-- the rest of me can.

I think also that I've been trying, slowly but surely, to shut down my old escape routes and be more present in my life. I'm trying not to go into hermit mode all the time anymore, but rather to stay engaged and be less extreme in my ability or non-ability to be around other people. I'd prefer that it not be a binary switch anymore: on or off.

Basically, the pendulum swings wide into the realm of social interaction and normal functioning, but now I'm stopping it from swinging equally far in the opposite direction, the way it used to. 

I actually do fine on the social side. I have wonderful people in my life who are brilliant and interesting and funny and fun. It's a pleasure to see them and catch up with them. 

I think I had it in my head that that meant things had improved and the other side of the coin wouldn't be as difficult to weather. (Oh man, that's a badly-mixed metaphor, but I'm just going to leave it there because... whatever. I'm in a mood.)

I forgot that I've always been fine at the social stuff. I've also always had the ability to ignore any backlash that might come from it, or to shut down for a while to avoid feeling... who knows. Too engaged? Too social? Too... normal?

I don't know. I never even really noticed that I did this, until I became aware of when I was trying to escape and started trying to stop myself from doing it.

I did it a lot, as it turns out.

All this work has begun to allow me to feel some feelings, and until I can stop identifying all feelings as threats, it's just going to suck to feel them. Not. Cool.

I have no idea if this is making any sense. I'm not sure I'm capturing exactly what this is. All I know is that I'm unusually irritated with myself and feeling like a novice at mood swings. I do not like it one bit. I want to go hang out with my wonderful husband and adorable daughters and have a nice Sunday.

I think I will, just as soon as I get this frown off my face. They deserve smiles.

So there you go. Sunday. Mood. Bleh.

Progress, though. I guess.

Hooraaaaaaay. :/


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  2. So you had a good time with people you like, and afterwards, you were kind of uncomfortable and wiped out, and you needed to regroup.  

    I would like to propose the following hypothesis.  You're not an asshole.  You're a lovely person, and you're an introvert.  It's not morally wrong to be an introvert.  It's not freakish to be an introvert.  It's just different from what this particular culture values.
    Not all cultures privilege extroverts above introverts.  Japan and Thailand, for example, admire the introvert.  You just happen to have been born what is arguably the most extroverted culture on earth.  What does that mean?  It means that this culture needs you and your particular skills and strengths, because they are in short supply.  Introverts are awesome, man.  Imagine a world where everyone was an extrovert.  So many politicians and actors and politicians-who-used-to-be-actors, but very few writers, artists, or scientists.  Would that be a better world?  My 98-year-old grandmother is in a nursing home at the moment.  She's going crazy with boredom.  Why?  She's an extrovert.  There has to be a ten-piece marching band and a pony in her room at all times for her to feel like she's getting the social contact she needs to survive.  She can't spend time alone and come out of it feeling refreshed or revitalized.  To hear her tell it, she's never enjoyed a moment of quiet reflection in her life.  She's completely dependent on other people for entertainment and stimulation.  That doesn't sound like freedom to me.  No offense, extroverted people.  You're fun and vibrant and a barrel of monkeys.  You've done great things.  I appreciate that Oprah gave away all those cars.  But geez, I wouldn't want to be you.  

  3. Oh, and again, sorry about the formatting.  I put line spaces after each paragraph, but blogspot ate some of them.  Maybe it doesn't play well with Safari.  I'll try a different browser next time.  

  4. Hi Kate. My mentor, Robyn Posin, says that "rest is a sacred act" and that "you can only go as fast as the slowest part of you feels safe to go." I think you would love her writing. She is particularly good at deconstructing the societal dogma that gets into our heads and tells us how we "should" be feeling, at the cost of ignoring what our own bodies are telling us. Her websites are and

    On a personal note, I always need a break after social interaction. There is such a thing as too much stimuli - and for me, what constitutes "too much" changes depending on a million different factors. Learning to be tender with myself and respect my needs has been a huge challenge, having been raised by someone who is expert at dismissing her own needs and was quick to express frustration with mine. But there has been something hugely empowering about taking ownership - "This is who I am/This is what I need to feel okay right now." After all, it's my life, and as far as I know, the only one I get. It's my job to be my own best protector and nurturer.