As a newer (admitted) extrovert (I used to be a really social introvert), socializing is a big deal to me. Not just at parties, but seeing other people live their lives, tell their truth, etc. For those who know me, it's a complicated, big deal.
When one has kids, things change. If I had a nickel every time I heard this...
When I had a kid, things (expectations, specifically) indeed changed. And got more complicated. I feel pretty vulnerable right now talking about how I socialize, because those I socialize with (or don't socialize with, as the case may be) are pretty much the bulk of this blog's audience. So I'm "reporting on" but also "talking to" this group. See? Already too complicated.
But being vulnerable is a part of letting go. I know that in the deepest of places. If I can't say stuff out loud to myself and at least one other person it's like one hand clapping in a forest where no one can hear it.
So back to when I used to be an introvert... Introversion is not about being anti-social, which I have never really been. It's about where I get/got my energy. Do I feel more energized with people or on my own? For a long time, I felt more energized on my own. My rules, my food, my space, my clothes, my time. A lot of "mine." I used to have one chair facing the TV in my one bedroom apartment until a dear friend told me that that's no way to attract a partner. Hmm. Conflict arose in the concept that with all the "mine" there was no one to share it with. Huh.
I also, by nature (or was it nurture?), am someone who is capable of helping people out. And way back when, I think I did this a lot, or some might say, too much. Helping people out is innocent enough, but for an introvert, it's not as fulfilling as it sounds. In fact, I think I may have wanted to help so that when I was alone, thinking about my life, etc., I wouldn't seem like an asshole. God forbid. It's not that I helped people insincerely, it's that it wasn't exactly what fed me. But how I felt about myself fed me, so it worked.
Until it didn't.
Shortly after the single chair moved out and a couch moved into to the aforementioned apartment, "mine" started getting boring. But this is where it got complicated. I liked helping, but not too much. I liked people, but only until they wanted something I didn't want to give. So the math was something like this: If I help people they will take all the energy I have, leaving me spent and angry. If I don't help people, I will be, and feel like, an asshole. And "mine" is now boring. And I'll probably also end up spent and angry from my own doing. Ack!
Enter the estranged boundaries. I wanted to put them in quotes, but I don't want to poke fun at them. Boundaries were like a cool distant cousin, who dressed well, liked the cool, hip music, and didn't care what people thought of her. Man, did I want to be like that cousin! But I had no idea what to do with boundaries. They felt gangly and awkward. Like I was trying on a smokin' hot dress for a college student's body, as a 10 year old. Double ack.
I started hanging around people who had boundaries (also known as therapists and those IN therapy) and while things still looked insanely awkward, I also saw that these people still had friends, did not vanish in a puff of smoke, and seemed to have self-esteem. Victory!
And here is where these worlds collide...so now I'm a mom, with a much better handle on boundaries, and to the naked eye, I might still seem like an asshole. But trust me, my lack of socializing isn't personal. Some days, even though I am home, "doing nothing," I am really just storing up some alone time. Or I am being more honest with myself when I say to myself, "You know, it's okay to not do or go or plan right now."
It can also be heart-breaking...I know I miss many of my friends. And some friends have complained that my lack of time for them is becoming detrimental to our relationship. And I lie awake at night stewing about this...because that was never my intent, but I just don't feel the same about socializing like I used to. I have my built-in social group, who share my house with me, and when they are gone or asleep, I get some breathing room. I need breathing room. Now more than before. So it's a dance and one I'm still awkwardly navigating. When hubby is gone for the night, sometimes with the car, sometimes not, I am constantly weighing the pros and cons of interaction. Some days going out wins, some days, it loses, and I eat grilled cheese and watch tv. When I stay in, K gets better sleep because I am focused on his cues. When I go out, sometimes, it's more important that I get some attention, rather than K. I'm still looking for his cues, mind you, but I'm just not ignoring my own.
I have a hard time explaining this sometimes. But overall, I just need to learn to let go of my expectations of myself and not expect others to let go of theirs. I can't blame others for missing me. And for being angry that I'm not more mobile, willing, available, sans baby, etc. Hopefully our friendships will endure and things will change (working on getting a second car is top of the list, FYI) and we will hang out more often, once more. Until then, don't write me off. I still love you dearly.