Support groups. Venting Sessions. That person you go to when you’ve had a rough day. The overall idea that we all need somebody when things get a little too much.
You think I must need somebody.
But before I get into it, lets take a step back.
There’s two types of people in this world – we describe them as introverts and extroverts. There’s lots of different ways we can differentiate between the two when it comes to social lives, comfort levels, and how we generally express our needs.
We picture extroverts as individuals who are the life of the party, they appear comfortable within their own skin, and they thrive off of other people.
Introverts on the other hand appear shy, closed off, tend to avoid larger social gatherings and prefer time spent alone.
It paints a pretty negative picture of introverts – especially when it’s your psychology professor digging into what these social terms mean and pairing it with “ideal” identities and personality types landing in the middle ground of various extremes.
Introversion shouldn’t be views as an extreme.
I have no issue with my confidence level and will happily stand in front of a large crowd and talk about anything under the sun. I love to be social, I love attending larger scale events, and I get a vast amount of enjoyment from others. Except, when it comes to winding down and recharging, that is something I need to do alone. I enjoy my solitude and my own company often times more than I enjoy trying to make a new friend.
That doesn’t seem very extreme.
But, it has presented a unique set of challenges on my journey to better health and in striving to be a voice and an ear for people.
It starts on the most basic level when someone tells me that they’re always there if I need someone to talk to.
It typically comes in response to me expressing a frustration of some sort and results in me not wanting to ever express frustrations I may have again in a public sphere. People come from a genuine place and are truly expressing that they support me and are offering to help in a way they know how: by opening up their ears.
I won’t pretend I don’t say the exact same thing and strive to remind people that I will always be around to listen. Except, I will most likely never reach out to a stranger for support – and yes, even someone I interact daily with on twitter, is a stranger. I have a very small list of individuals that I am comfortable with going to when I need to “vent” or express my frustrations on a deeper level. I have an even smaller list of individuals that I share the grittiest parts of my health journey with, and they are all people I know in real life.
I consider myself to be a very open individual and although much of my life has been publicized and shared in an attempt to help others and raise awareness, much of my personal life is not available to the public.
But why don’t I accept the support I’m offered?
In short, just go read my blog.
In a little longer, I truly don’t want to listen to another person tell me they’re sorry.
There is nothing more discouraging than having someone apologize over something they have no control over and have no impact on. YOU didn’t give me any of my pains and nothing YOU do will alleviate them.
It’s dehumanizing. Every day so many people apologize to me. I have to work ten times harder to reinforce in my mind that migraine isn’t something to apologize for. That it isn’t a source of shame. It isn’t something I resent. I have to work harder to remind myself that my existence is worthwhile and that I am not burdensome to those around me. Saying you’re sorry, makes it feel like I’m the one who should be apologizing.
And I am not sorry for having a neurological disorder. I am not sorry for telling my story. I am not sorry for sharing my frustrations or my successes. I am not sorry.
So why are you?
Why are you placing guilt and shame onto me? And even a step further, why are you placing your experiences and struggles into my space assuming they hold true for me?
Please don’t apologize to me.
Moving on from the basic level where people express that they care and want to support me brings me to the deeper level that is more rooted in my personality.
I’m not someone who wants to be checked in on. When I need support or someone to listen or just someone to get my mind off of life, I reach out on my own. I decide when it’s a good time to interact with others.
It seems like more often than not, people are either “checking in” with the motive of sharing their own frustrations, or “checking in” without any motive at all. I don’t know which is worse.
My days are filled with writing and research, art and relaxation. I’m striving to do something with my time, and slowly I’m having more and more I can take on – but when I’m engulfed in a task and suddenly being checked in on I’m stopped in my tracks feeling obligated to share how I’m doing.
Suddenly I have to evaluate how I am doing and make a decision as to what I want to share. I don’t want to talk about my pains or struggles because it is a good time for you. Contrary to popular belief – these conversations only represent a fraction of what I think about and I have much more to offer than my pain. If I do decide to share with you, and you respond with your own frustrations I’m thrown off. It is wildly important to preface a conversation with it’s purpose. If you need a space to vent or are seeking advice, express your intention and actively try to understand if it’s a good time.
So I’ve started just turning off my phone for the bulk of the day – If my phones off, I can’t see the messages. But the messages still come and leave me with lingering guilt.
I get it. I don’t think anyone has bad intentions.
But I want to be honest.
I’m really tired.
My people-meter has broken and I have no energy left that can overflow to be beneficial to you. If you want half-hearted help and to further drain my cup, in the long run we all will suffer.
And I really wish you’d leave me be. I feel bombarded. And the people doing the bombarding aren’t listening when I actually speak.
I feel disrespected. I feel like my time, opinions, personal boundaries, and personal story are not being respected.
And so I’m withdrawing a lot, because I know how to value my time and I know I can reach out to exactly who I need to.
I think the root of it lies with me not wanting more support. I have support and it is plentiful.
What I need, is encouragement.
When I’m down or frustrated, I don’t need to be “encouraged” to be lazy or to feel whatever emotions are being placed on me. I don’t want to be told anything – it’s kind of rude. The places I’ve created are not spaces I go to seeking advice.
I’m seeking encouragement. I’m seeking positive reinforcement. I’m seeking people who want to see me grow.
It can be as simple as sending hugs or love or light my way. You can even send healing energies or photos of animals.
You can drop in and say you hope I’m having a good day or a relaxing weekend. I welcome that and when people take an extra effort to wish me well without expecting anything of me in return, I am surrounded by joy.
It’s simple really. I don’t want support and I don’t want to tell you how my days been or how I’m feeling. I don’t want to feel as if I *have* to respond to you either.
I truly unwind a lot of the time on social media, and if I’m unwinding I may not be in a place where I can hold a conversation.
I don’t converse with individuals every day. Never have, never will.
Be mindful of your expectations of others and don’t assume that just because you bring positive notes into my life that you are entitled to anything outside of my already public life.
Regardless, I appreciate you, but I appreciate my solitude more. I don’t want new friends because I prefer the four legged variety: tall, short, long necks, short necks, necks with rolls, ideally with a bit of fluff or fur. And that is okay.
As the great Henry David Thoreau said, “I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”