Saturday, April 18, 2020

If I'm Being Honest . . . .

Today I am going to step away from "The Bee", come from behind the scenes and share my heart with you. Because I don't know, but I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this, and I think there might be a few others of you out there, who like me, are struggling through this pandemic. And as such, I want to be honest about how I've been feeling.

The odd thing is, I didn't expect to struggle. Being an introvert and a highly sensitive person with social anxiety you would think that being ordered to stay home and six feet away from others would be pure bliss. And it's true, I didn't really mind the stay at home order, because it didn't look much different from my life prior to the pandemic. But what I didn't anticipate was the disruption of my daily routine and the extent to which having almost no time alone would negatively affect me.

Now before I proceed, please don't think for a moment that I don't love my family, because nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there are few things I enjoy more than all of us being together. The problem for me is that I am an introvert. If you're familiar with the Myers-Briggs temperments or the Enneagram scales, I am an INFJ and an Enneagram 5w4, which essentially means that I not only enjoy time alone, I NEED time alone, which of late has been difficult to near impossible to find.

I'm also a morning person, and prior to the pandemic, I was typically up, dressed and had most of my household duties completed by 9 a.m. or 10 at the latest, which then left me the rest of the day, typically until around 1 p.m. and sometimes as late as 3, to myself, as both my husband and my daughter worked outside of the home. But obviously, with our decision to self-isolate and the order to stay at home, all of that changed. Now most days I don't even get started until 10 and as my energy level tends to begin to wane after 2:00 or so, if things aren't done before that time, they often carry over to the next day, which has left me feeling completely overwhelmed. It's frustrating really, because I had just established a morning and evening routine that was working well for me, only to have the entire thing come unraveled.

Thankfully, thus far, none of us have exhibited any of symptoms of the virus (although both my daughter and I are getting slammed with seasonal allergies this year), but what I am beginning to realize is that we have not been unaffected. The emotional impact of this pandemic is evident. These are simply put, trying times.

It all really came to a head for me this week, and I had a bit of teary, emotional break down on Monday, and then found myself feeling near to another one yesterday afternoon. To be honest, it's a little embarrassing, and I feel a bit whiny, but at the same time I know myself pretty well, and as such I realize it's important that I take note of these cues and  be a bit more pro-active in assuring that I don't push myself past the point of no return, whatever that is! :)

As attuned as I am to my needs, I am not very good at voicing them, which is completely the opposite for my husband and daughter, who have very strong personalities and are less introverted than I. Again, I'm not slamming my family here. I only wish I was as good at navigating life as they are! Not that they haven't both had their own struggles as a result of this pandemic. It wouldn't even be fair to say that they are struggling less, but I think the best way to describe our differences  would be to say that they put out little fires day to day, and I am just the opposite.  A little kindling is added here, a little more there, and usually before I realize it that little flame, that passing smoke signal, has now errupted into a full on blaze. My mother once compared me to a tea-pot, just simmering away day to day, until the day when the water begins to boil and kettle sings! It's funny when you think of it in those terms. But in reality, being the kettle, it loses its humor. Any other kettles out there? Sing along!

And so, what does all this whining boil down to? Well, for me, it means I need a plan, which begins with accepting myself as I am and stop wishing I was more like my husband/daughter. After 58 years of living in this body I know that all the wishing in the world won't change a thing, and to be honest, some things don't need to change. There are a lot of positive elements of my personality type and make up, as well, and I need to focus on them.

Another thing I need to learn is to speak up for myself and be honest about my needs. I'm not very good at saying no to the ones I love, at least, not appropriately. Remember that kettle? When I reach my boiling point, that's when I finally speak up for myself, when the truth is if I would just learn to be more attuned to my needs day-to-day, I could probably simmer along beautifully for a long time to come and never reach a boil. When I had my little melt down on Monday I mentioned that I don't like disappointing people, and that often when I say no I can see or hear the disappointment in their faces and so I give in when I shouldn't, or perhaps, too often. I've also been in relationships earlier in my life when speaking up for myself or saying no was met with anger, and so I've been fashioned into a bit of a resentful pleaser, I guess you'd say, and I certainly don't want that.

And so, if you've endured my whining thus far, you get a gold star! But all that being said, I've decided that this weekend in true INFJ/Enneagram 5 fashion, to come up with a plan, and I'm sure that my thoughts and ideas will then spill over into my posts. I've actually already begun, and I've decided to begin with gratitude, because I know from past experience that gratitude has the capacity to change your life, and we could all do with a bit of that right now, don't you think? I also enrolled in a 21 day beginner's yoga course, and I'm hoping to start that on Monday. One of the struggles I've had is that my daughter is a social butterfly and as such, I am her social side kick right now, which is fine. BUT, she's also a night owl. So, I've been keeping some pretty late hours, which means I'm sleeping later and sacrificing my typical early mornings, which previously was a time when I was able to be alone and start my day slowly. So that's an area where I'll need to speak to my needs and try to come up with a balanced plan, because I also realize that this isn't all about me! If I tip the scale too far to meet my needs, then my daughter will suffer, and we're all in this together!

Anyway, as I am really rambling/whining here, I hope to be back on Monday with a post on gratitude and my plan for incorporating more of it into my day. And maybe I'll let you know how my first yoga lesson went and how successful I was at getting up off the floor! :) I'm not sure how, but I do hope in some way that this this post has blessed you, and if nothing else, has assured you that you are not alone in your struggle!

Until then,

1 comment:

Sallie Borrink said...

Hi Kim,

I found your blog a few months ago, but I can't remember if I've left a comment or not. But from one INFJ to another, I completely get it.

I am WAY on the introverted end of the spectrum in terms of how much time alone I need - NEED - every day in order to be happy and functioning well. I function best if I can get four hours alone every day. As in alone in the house, not just left alone.

But I homeschool an only child and own a home-based business with my husband so I don't get anything like that. There have been days when they've been gone for some activity and I've been alone for six to eight hours and I feel like I've had a VACATION. I felt like a different person. My head cleared, I was super productive, etc. I'm like a different person.

The lockdown has taken it to another level, just like you said. We've come up with ways to get me time alone over the years and all of them are gone with the lockdown with almost no chance of returning any time soon. I wrote this week on my blog that we actually changed around rooms in the house in order to cope with this.

I totally get what you are saying. Don't feel badly about it. I love being an INFJ and appreciate all the good that comes with it. But when we are pushed to our limits in our most important areas of need, it is HARD. It creates a desperate feeling that most others are not going to understand. I really do get what you are saying and I want you to know you aren't alone.