introvert care sheet

Introverts of the world – unite! (1/28/15)

If you had asked me 25 years ago if I was an extravert or an introvert, I would have whole-heartedly responded with the former.

I was considered outgoing and it seemed like I was always at a church party or a big get together.

I loved some aspects of it, but if I was honest, I hated it.

I hated the fake small talk, I hated being in a crowded place, and I hated the feeling of panic and being emotionally drained when it was over.

I thought introverts were rude hermits who hated mankind. Surely they weren’t just everyday people who were kind of friendly and liked puppies and stuff.

I thought I just had an uncategorized panic disorder – I was self-diagnosing myself long before WebMD was born, having a minor in psychology will do that for you. But one night in the mall with Mama, being surrounded with hordes of people, made me nearly black out. I sat on a bench and watched people go by, laughing, talking and enjoying their visit to the greatest place on earth. My ears were reverberating, and my heart was pounding. All I could think of was how I wanted to get out of there.

I still am not sure if that was a panic attack or just me realizing I didn’t feel comfortable in crowds.

Slowly, I began to realize that even when I liked the people or the places I was going, I didn’t like the crowds.

Being in the crowds made me feel like I was inside a drum while someone beat a tempo on the outside. All I could think of was wanting to be home, free of small talk.

Even when I worked in cosmetics, I thought I was outgoing and extraverted. Maybe it was because I became friends with so many of my customers and treated them all as guests, or if it was just so much fun – hello, I was paid to sell makeup and just about every week, with new stuff being delivered constantly.

I was in sales for a number of years and surprisingly, did OK. I actually enjoyed working with clients one on one, helping them with their advertising, and enjoyed the freedom that went with the job. It was so personal and rewarding. I was fine until we had to do a remote; the crowds of people swarming the booth made me panic so horribly I thought I would flee.

The thought still remained that I just had panic attacks. It never occurred to me that I was an introvert.

Then, low and behold, one day I had to take an actual test that discovered your personality traits. This was a real psychological test, not one of those Facebook quizzes that makes pithy diagnoses based on your color preference and the last thing you ate. This was a real psychological test. My result came back: Introvert.

I was surprised but somehow relieved.

Introverts feel overwhelmed in large crowds, hate noisy places, despise small talk (I will sit and talk about the big things at length, but the ‘hey, how’s the weather, how’s it going…” No. Just no.), feels drained after being in a crowd, and hates to talk on the phone. I have a few people I will talk to on the phone, and then, it needs to be a real conversation. Just the phone calls to just gossip or talk nonsense, I can’t handle.

Apparently, there are a lot of us out there.

I found more and more information about introverts and the more I found, the more it resonated with me and the way I had felt pretty much my whole life.
Mama still disagrees and says I am extraverted. I tell her no, I am not. I can appreciate her reasoning, because again, I would have considered myself an extravert before.

But being an introvert does not mean I hate the rest of the world; I am kind of a hermit though. I prefer my cabin in the woods, and prefer small, as in tiny, groups of people, and my dogs. That doesn’t mean I won’t smile at another person in the grocery store. And I will smile even broader if they smile back. It just means that I don’t have to invite them and their closest friends over for dinner.

“I still don’t think you are an introvert,” Mama said. It doesn’t matter if she thinks it or not; I am. It’s a label that finally ‘fits.’

After throwing off my former extravert label, I found out a lot of others I knew were introverts as well – people I liked, admired and would have never guessed were introverts.

“Maybe we need to have some kind of support group, for introverts disguised as extraverts,” one suggested via email one night. “But introverts don’t like leaving our homes.”

I agreed; I liked my side of the mountain.

“A support group without the meeting,” I answered.

We haven’t done it, but we kind of need to. It’s hard being an introvert in an extraverted world, and we really need to stick together.

Well, as much as a bunch of introverts would anyway. introverts

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/16016/

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cousins

The next best thing (1/21/2015)

Being raised an only child meant I spent a lot of time reading and pretending.

I could read a Nancy Drew novel and then pretend I was off somewhere solving a mystery. I still don’t trust one of our former neighbors; that man had too many Easter decorations to not have kids.

But I yearned for siblings to play with, to talk to, and to get in trouble with – heck, if nothing else, Granny’s yelling could have more than covered a couple of children’s blatant misbehavior. She wasted it on just me.

Instead of having someone there to share those childhood moments, I had cousins.

Lots and lots of cousins. Some of them varied in age, because Granny came from a large family.

I looked forward to our yearly get-together at my great-grandmother’s house. The old white wooden house, with the wrap-around porch did not look big enough to hold our numbers, but somehow it did, and we would spill out into the yard if we had to, eating on the trunks of our cars while we visited.

Every year, I looked for my cousin Chrissy – I called her John Wayne because if anyone under the age of 20 could take on the Duke and win, it would have been her.

She was the coolest cousin I could think of because she was fearless. And, even though we were polar opposites, with her being athletic and able to keep her footing, I was chubby and clumsy and quite certain I wore something that involved bows and ribbons, she still eagerly played with me.

And we both eagerly and mercilessly tormented her brother Butch.

John Wayne had taught me how to fish one afternoon at our uncle’s lake beside his house.

We walked back to our great grandmother’s house where Mama came out to the porch, Virginia Slim 120 poised high beside her red hair, and informed me it was time to head home.

I told her I was going to learn to clean the fish. John Wayne took the knife and cut the head slap off. I screamed like a girl – because, well, I am a ginormous sissy of a thing – and ran up the back steps. I was ready to go.

I am pretty sure we went back the next week. I just told her I wasn’t too keen on chopping a head off of anything.

When our great-grandmother passed away, Granny’s family didn’t do the big once a year thing anymore. We all just grew up, moved away and lost contact with each other over the years.

It had been years – decades since I had last seen many of my cousins – and then at Granny’s funeral, they were there. I think somehow, the mean old gal thought this was her great plan and I will give her credit for that.

A man came up and hugged me, saying “I am so sorry about Aunt Helen…”

The face looked familiar, but my mind was having a hard time recalling from decades before. Then one moment, he glanced down and I gasped with only the joy a child could have at seeing a friend.

“You have a sister and I called her John Wayne!” He laughed and nodded. “And we were awful to you sometimes!”

“Yes, y’all could be,” he laughed.

And that was all it took. Even though it had been probably close to 30 years since we had seen each other, it was like it was yesterday.

I realized how much I had missed my cousins.

One of the things I envy about Lamar is he does have a large family. I can’t keep everyone straight at times because I think his family may be larger than Granny’s was, if that was possible.

But we are hours away, with Atlanta traffic between us and I hate even going south of the square downtown.

I’ve told y’all I am used to cows and bossy strutting chickens; 18 wheelers and cars zipping in and out of lanes makes me nauseous.

We decided it was time for a visit and when we finally arrived, two of Cole’s cousins came outside to greet us.

Even though they were older than Cole, they all had a good time and played together for hours. They even thought they had rescued a dog until we found out it belonged next door. But things like that happen when you’re with cousins – magical moments of childhood just occur in the everyday mundaneness.

Cole, an only child, relished every second of it.

“I love my cousins,” he said, as he was getting ready for bed that evening.

“I am so glad you got to spend time with them,” I told him.

“You know, I miss my friends at school, since I am homeschooled now,” he said. “I get lonely sometimes.”

“I know you do,” I replied. It tugged at my heart. I knew he did.

When you’re an only, you need those connections.

“And I have always wished I had a brother or sister, but when I was with my cousins, it made me happy – like I did have that, does that make sense?”

“Absolutely,” I said, kissing his head.

“Because really, baby, cousins are the next best thing.”

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/15997/

safety first

My job description (1/14/2015)

Someone asked me recently how many children I have and what their ages were.

It sounds like at times I have a full house. I frequently refer to my three spoiled, sassy dogs as ‘my girls.’

I had to think for a minute before I answered: “Two, a 10-year-old and a 50-year-old.”

The lady looked at me puzzled. “You don’t look old enough to have a 50-year-old. Did you adopt an older child?”

No, I didn’t. I am referring to the way my husband can regress back to being about 13-years-old the minute he and Cole are together.

He is the ultimate best bud – he’s got a driver’s license and as a parental figure, he can give the OK to things I will normally say a resounding “No” to.

I’m the boring, no fun, bad guy.

Case in point: Lamar and Cole wandered off to a gun store while I waited on take out one night. Cole had some money in his pocket he got from Nennie and it was burning a hole until he spent it. When they joined me, Cole’s little face was beaming with joy.

“I got a knife!” he squealed.

Me, not thinking too much of it, mumbled “how nice,” as I buckled my seat belt.

He’s had little pocket knives before that amounted to basically a pair of tiny tweezers and a blade that would maybe be fair for spreading butter in August.

“See,” he said, thrusting a sheath at me.

It was a knife. A real knife. Not Crocodile Dundee-ish, but a knife nonetheless.

“Why did you get this?” I demanded, sending a glare that was sharper than the knife I was holding to my husband.

Cole stuck his little chin out in determination. “Daddy said he’s gonna teach me some basic survival skills, like how to use a knife, build a fire – there’s a thing in there that will help me get a fire ready and sharpen my blade. I am going to learn some big boy outdoor skills and have fun with my poppa.”

I think smoke was still coming out of my ears.

“I don’t like you having this. This is a real knife, and you are not going to carry this thing.”

The little chin went out further. “Rule number nine – always carry a knife.”

My child knows when in doubt, quote Gibbs. But not even quoting “NCIS” was going to save him on this matter.

“Rule 51 – sometimes you’re wrong,” was my reply. “And this time, you’re wrong. Both of you.”

“Oh, come on,” Lamar began. “Let him have the knife. He is smart and knows how to be careful. We talked about it and went over it in the store when we were in there. He knows what to do.”

I sighed. I was hungry and tired and didn’t want to fight. I just planned on sneaking in his room and finding that knife and hiding it until he was 40.

Days passed and Cole proved – so far – that he knew knife safety. He still thinks he is more grownified than what he is.

That’s the word I called him and he scrunched up his little face and asked me if it was a word. “Yes,” I told him. “It is.”

Then, one day, as I was trying to enhance our wellbeing by buying vitamins at the health food store, Lamar and Cole ventured to Walmart.

When they came and got me and my bag of vitamins that are supposed to make me skinny and fight off every strain of the flu while giving me luscious, long hair, Cole announced he had a wrist rocket.

“A what?” I asked.

“A wrist rocket. It’s super cool, I will show you it tomorrow. I had some money left over so I am either going to get some more BBs or something else.”

I wasn’t too sure what a wrist rocket was, but I sure was wondering how much money my mama gave this child for Christmas.

The next day, I found out that the wrist rocket was some super duper sling shot from Hades that strapped onto my child’s small wrist and propelled BBs toward whatever the target was. “No,” I said. “Absolutely not.”

This set off a chain reaction of my child trying to debate me on how this was safe – all while saying how he was going to get some type of protective gear for it.

“No,” I said. “I said no, that’s the end of the discussion. It will go back. If you have to have protective head gear that makes you look like a storm trooper, then it is too dang dangerous.”

And while I was giving him my parental logic and reasoning, my child committed a cardinal sin:

He was interrupting me with his rebuttals.

“That’s it!” I felt my face grow hot. “Bring me that cussed thing right now – it’s mine!”

His little head dropped as he went to bring me the wrist rocket.

“Why don’t you want me to have any kind of fun?” he asked, placing it in my hands.

“Fun? I am concerned about your safety. I want to keep you safe and from being hurt. This thing could put an eye out or hurt you, really, really bad,” I explained, still upset. “I don’t care if you have ‘fun’ or not – I care if you are safe and get to grow up and old.”

“But-”

“No buts! My job description is to keep you safe – that’s what I am concerned about. Not fun, not you having some toy that is dangerous. All I want is for you to be safe.”

It’s the reason I make him walk on the inside of the sidewalk, why I make sure he is buckled tight and I have to have him in my line of sight. He could fall, get choked on something, a bee could come out of nowhere. Yes, I am overprotective, but like I said, his safety is my job.

Knowing that he best not defy me when I was on a hyper-psycho-mom tangent, Cole just quietly told me he understood.

A few days later, he bounded out the back door, squealing how he was going to make a fire with his daddy.

“What? A fire, where?” I wanted to know. Fire and those two do not bode well.

“Oh, sweet girl,” he said. “I know your job is my safety, but you know what?”

“What?”

“Your job stinks.”

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/15969/

friends-26

The dearest friends I have never met (1/7/2015)

When I was single, a friend suggested I sign up for an online dating service.

I adamantly refused.

“No, thanks,” I replied. “I can meet enough crazies in real life; I don’t need the World Wide Web bringing more my way.”

Given some of the folks I had encountered just in my daily goings about, I could only imagine who I would end up on a date with. I shuddered at the thought.

During my week-long employment at the Piggly Wiggly one summer, a ruggedly handsome young man asked for my phone number.

The next day, I had a collect call from the work release program, which I accepted, not knowing what that was. The dude wanted to know if I would be of legal age to date when he got out. I don’t even think I responded.

I wasn’t even too sure about Lamar on our first date.

He wanted to take me to Atlanta and it occurred to me, I didn’t know him – all I knew was his mother sold Estee Lauder and left me Tootsie Rolls and Reese’s in my work locker.

Sure, she seemed like a good person, but this could be a perfect ploy, hiding behind candy.

Flash forward a few months later and I was watching, of all things, “The Bachelor.”

Don’t judge me. I am guilty of watching some pretty trashy reality T.V. in my time.

But there I was, angry about the girl who got the final rose, so I had to find a group of like-minded people to vent my outrage to.

Eventually, we created a private group where we could share more personal happenings besides just who we thought should be picked for the fake happy ever after.

A few of us even got together, which involved two flying in to Georgia, one from Canada (she had a kayaking event at Lake Lanier) and another from Texas. The rest of us were from Georgia. We met for lunch in Helen. I didn’t tell Mama.

Lamar wasn’t so sure about it when he dropped me and a year-old Cole off for the get together.

He suggested staying with me, just in case, then reconsidered when he realized he was out-estrogened.

“What if they had been crazy people?” Mama said when I confessed where I had been.

“They weren’t,” I replied.

Again, I get it. Really, I do. My track record has brought some whackadoodles across my path.

“Was it awkward?”
How could it be awkward?

“Mama, I have known these women for years – several years. We’ve been like…pen pals for three years or more.”

That’s what we essentially were. Pen pals, online, except instead of waiting for the mail to bring us a letter, we can send an email or post a private message or even start a thread and find out how they are doing, share something with them and let them know we’re thinking of them.

Over the years, some of my dearest, closest friendships have been nurtured online, with wonderful, incredible people I haven’t had the privilege of meeting – yet.

My friend, Paula and I met when I entered a writing contest on her website. She and I started corresponding via email and have been friends ever since. That was close to 10 years ago.

Another dear friend is here in Dawsonville.

While I haven’t had the chance to meet him in person yet, it was a chat conversation between us that made me realize, a lot of the friendships I hold dear, are with people I have never met.

“Do you know them, like know them in real life and not just on the computer?” Lamar used to ask when I would tell him about someone. He no longer does because he realized, you don’t have to necessarily have that flesh and blood meeting to know someone.

I would venture to say many of my online friends have been just as meaningful as those in person friends.

We’ve prayed for one another and supported each other. We’ve laughed and celebrated together. We’ve shared and created memories together. The same things we do with those friends we see “in real life.”

The irony of it is, the friends I know “in real life,” I seldom see and when I do get to talk to them, it’s usually on Facebook. Our schedules are so different and our lives are so busy, it’s hard sometimes to find a window of time to get together.

Usually, if one of my friends here needs me, they message me on Facebook. Or as my real life friend Yolande does, tweets me.

The Twitterverse knows she is still, two years later, waiting for me to clean my house so she can come visit.

A friend – one I have known online for 10 years – messaged me one day. Her job was going to have her possibly coming through Georgia this year. She knew as soon as she heard she wanted to tell me.

“Somehow, some way – we are meeting. I am hugging you in person. We’ve been through too much together for me to be this close and not come squeeze you!”

I hope I do get to meet her. I hope one day I get to meet all of my online friends – as she put it, we’ve all been through too much together not to meet. And it won’t be awkward at all.

If anything it will be just old friends, getting together.

Just this time, it will be in person.

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/15938/friends-26