I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about all the “alone time” that I have. I am alone, but I’m not bored. I overwork, overdrink, and binge on television. Not that any of that is emotionally healthy, but I’m comfortable in this space at this time. As Pete would say, “If you do something well, stick with it.”
I’ve always been an introvert. I don’t know if this is a learned trait (I moved a lot as a child/young adult), or if a person is just born that way. It feels pretty natural to me, so I guess I was born an introvert. I come from a long line of highly-skilled introverts (you know who you are). So recently I started thinking about grief and how it must play out differently depending on a person’s proclivity toward introversion or extroversion.
I AM NOT AN EXPERT in this area except regarding my own experience–and I may not even be that. This is all speculation, and I welcome feedback from introverts and extroverts everywhere.
A couple of years ago, I read a great explanation on the difference of the two personality types. It was refreshing. I thought that being an introvert meant I didn’t like people or that people thought I didn’t like people. That’s not the case. An introvert gains physical and mental energy, recharges her battery so to speak, when she is alone or nearly alone. Whereas an extrovert gains energy by being around people. It explains a lot to me. I always tagged myself as shy, but I was too much of a smartass to really be shy. Now it seems to have turned out that I’m spending time alone all these years so I can store up my energy, then go out amongst people—and be a smartass.
But what if I weren’t? (An introvert, not a smartass). What if I had this massive trauma and grief on my shoulders and also needed to be around people to feel energized, but instead I ended up in a big house, living alone, probably forever–not to mention the fact that I work for myself, by myself, in said house. That would be so difficult. I can’t imagine the feeling of isolation it could impose on someone. An extrovert would need to be really good at drawing herself out to be around people. She’d have to be great at joining clubs or volunteering or initiating events. Whatever it took to get out and recharge her batteries so she could stand all the quiet that’s waiting at home. It could be especially trying during those weeks after a loved one has passed. The crowds of people begin to taper off and you have to accept that things have changed permanently. Actually that’s difficult for anyone, but in particular I would think for extroverts. “Hey, where’d everybody go?”
Given the choice, I’m grateful. I didn’t grow up thinking that my introversion would ever be an asset, but in this particular case I think it is. HAVE NO DOUBT that I’m not saying I don’t need people, crave company, or love being included. I am comforted by a huge support system that keeps me alive and confident that I’ll live through this horror. I’m just talking about the hours on end, alone in a house—or a car—with only thoughts and the sound of my own voice. I guess when you do something well, “Stick with it!”