Turtle-up... it's good for you!

I know I haven't been a very good blogger/writer lately. My household, rather than being relatively harmonious and calm has been quite full of upheaval and riotously noisy! This isn't my thing, really, and makes me very uncomfortable, so I turtle up-- that means I crawl even further into my introverted self, needing to claw for silence and calm wherever I can find it, and often unable to string two or three written sentences together for lack of motivation. If this sounds something like depression to you, you're right, it rather is, but I'll go into that more in a little bit.

Turtle-up, it sounds funny, right? You crawl in your shell, and are protected, but it doesn't mean just that. It means turning away from interactions, seeking out silence and alone-ness on purpose. It means desperately trying to find some little cave you can crawl in for just a little while-- physically or metaphysically. It's a pretty bad thing, most of the time, I won't paint it pretty. But for introverts like me, living with extroverts, one of whom has NPD and honestly believes the world revolves around here, if we'd just get with the programme, it's an absolute necessity. I have to find that silence. I Must find that quiet-- else I'll lose my mind!

"Well, what's going on?!" you might ask out of curiosity, and that's fine. It doesn't bother me in the slightest for people to be curious-- I understand I can be quite the curious character. And I'll tell you the short version: my daughter made some very bad decisions in mid-December and we're still dealing with the fall out. It's that way with kids some times, their lack of insight into the long term consequences of their actions-- the very fact that most of them don't even believe there are consequences beyond getting yelled at shows their immaturity.

Being a decent person, and trying to be a good parent, to lead by example, and to keep the line, as it were [that'd be the "no, you absolutely will not do that, that's against the house rules!" sort of thing] I have had to venture far outside my comfort zone. This has included filling up my agenda with something other than "dinner with family" and "hockey". I don't like my agenda to be full. In fact, I fucking hate it so bad it just about gives me hives!

But, needs must as the devil drives*, I suppose. By that I mean, if I must do this, I will do this... but I can't promise I'll like it, enjoy it, or anything other than "count the moments until it's all over and done with while trying not to hyperventilate" it. It, however, will be done, and done properly; I do take pride in the things I do, and I hate to repeat myself, both in word and deed. Better to get it done right the first time-- leaving me more time for the things I do like.

Some social situations fill me with a sort of dark, black dread... this isn't to say that I don't enjoy a night out with friends, or that I get all anxious if we're going out to dinner, or to run errands. What I mean, and probably should have stipulated: new social situations that I didn't choose to engage in, fill me with a black, dark dread. If I have to do something, I can talk myself into it-- but the entire time my stomach is full of this black hole of anxiety-- it's roiling and trying to suck myself into it! I get the cold sweats, and am often on the verge of panic the entire time. So I'm hyper-vigilant, and pay very, very close attention to everything around me... this is good, I suppose, as it means people don't have to repeat themselves, but damn, if it's bad for me!

I am getting better-- slowly but surely, I am getting better. I should probably get something from the doctor, and I'm considering it when I see him this spring. But, I'm getting better at this "small talk" thing, and don't feel quite so freaked the fuck out by people who look me straight in the eyes for long periods of time** [Not saying it's comfortable, or even normal for people to do that, but I dont' want to shriek as quickly as I used to... I suppose it takes longer for me to get upset, or I have better skills at talking to their nose, or to the side of their head.]

After a long day, or evening, of engaging with people, however, I need quiet for a long time.

Let me explain:
Say we go to a party, and I know half the people by name and sight, and the other half pretty well. We can stay for several hours-- the entire party, and I won't be uncomfortable. When we get home, I'll be exhausted, partly from the time out enjoying myself, and partly from the "being sociable" takes it out of me. But I won't feel put-upon, or as though I was forced to be nice. I won't feel the need to hide out anywhere in the middle of it [as long as it's not a holiday and there aren't kids everywhere. The moment we're talking Thanksgiving and a house full of children, well, then I'll be locking myself in the loo for ten minutes at least once for some quiet.] This is what makes office holiday parties, or cook outs do-able for me. I know people, like them and can socialise.

Now, imagine going to a party where you knew one person. You have to talk to, be kind, engage and seem genuinely interested in everything everyone else is saying. For hours. You won't enjoy yourself, you're too busy trying to be interested, or fake it really well, and not make your fellow-guests uncomfortable in any way. When you get home, you'll feel the way I do: "Oh, Universe, never make me leave here again!" as you throw yourself into bed for a week.

It takes awhile to recover from a very social, manic thing... even if I had fun with friends, I need to balance that with some quiet. I need it when I've been in a larger game group and we're on "voice" [that is chatting aloud on a headset with microphone in some sort of chat channel, for you non-gamers out there], let alone in person, and my friends know and understand. Too much "public" time is overwhelming, and so it's nice to have people around me who understand that I need some self-care time afterwards.

Well, most of the people around me. My daughter treats us all like we're her back-up dancers, and doesn't understand, perhaps can't, perhaps won't, that I refuse to live like that. I refuse to be her sycophant, refuse to be her back-up singer, to only live for her to touch me with her wonderfulness... like she's the butterfly and I'm the flower. People with NPD are like that, though, they don't/can't/flat out won't get it, when we don't give them the praise and adulation they think they deserve-- heavy emphasis on the adulation part.

So, in dealing with the mess my kid caused, Cosmos love her, I've had to come home and get some turtle time, before I fall into an anxiety induced depression. So far, so good.

That does mean less writing, and more mindless sitting, listening to music, or puttering around the house doing my thing. Much as I love writing, and honestly I need it for my sanity as well, there are times that it's not best to write, it's best to do. Decompressing from all this being social, it's time for me to do. So I've crafted a lovely chocolate-chocolate cake, or meditated on what it'd be like to soar through the galaxy-- imagine being a star, shooting through everything, yeah, like that. I've walked beaches in my imagination, under the light of the full moon, and stared into the endless eternity that is the night sky out my back door. I've poured over photos from NASA and laughed at Penn's Sunday School podcast, or puzzled over Neil Degrasse-Tyson's Star Talk radio-- some times he's dying of laughter and I'm sitting here looking quizzical. I have read, squeed over cute animals, and taken time to love myself-- something any depressive knows is important in keeping healthy.

This doesn't mean my Muse is in Tahiti. In fact, she's been here the whole time, quietly writing things in the back half of my brains; fleshing out my next novella, coming up with ideas for a pencil and paper GURPS game for my kiddos, devising the next decadent chocolate thing [I do think I'm going to retry a bumpy cake, which you can see the link for the recipe last July, when I made one for my husband], or plotting and planning some new thing to do with chicken. My Muse is me, of course, and even when I'm freaking out inside, there's always a calm part of me that's writing along. So, I'll be back soon, writing more regularly, and I hope entertaining everyone as much, or little, as before.

In the mean time, I'm turtled-up. I've started to feel not-so-raw, and a little healed as I adjust, and so that's why I've taken this time to write this blog. I would recommend everyone try it once in awhile. Even an extrovert needs self-care time, and turtle-time is good for that. You have to learn to like your own company, though, and I know a lot of extroverts aren't all that comfortable alone with themselves.

So, try it, it's good for you! I'll see you when I'm ready to come out of my shell. Until then, know I'm thinking of you and thankful that you're all not freaking out on me for being so quiet.



*According to Bartelby's it's "Needs must when the devil drives", but that's not how I learned it.

**I don't mean the "looking at me when they're talking", I mean the people who stare at you when they're talking, barely blinking, trying to show you how much they're paying attention... those people are fucking scary! My mother did that when I was small to try to intimidate me... I just learned to talk past people, or look at their nose, so as not to engage their creepy. I do believe, however, that it's not just my lack of social comfort, but a distinct lack of social skills, and ability to read social queues on the part of the starers... otherwise they're realise they were being creepy as hell.

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