Although I am very social, and appear to be extrovert, I am in actual fact an introvert. I need downtime. Quiet time. Introspection time. Think time. And if there is something going on in my life, I need more time even more desperately.
Growing up as the oldest of 4 children, quiet time was hard to get. But even then, in the afternoons after school, I would climb high into the huge black wattle tree we had in the garden, and I would spend hours there, brooding. Nobody else could get up there; in fact mostly nobody even knew I was there. I used to cycle to school a few days a week, even though I hated the exertion. But I did it because it gave me an hour or so of riding home in the afternoons with the wind in my hair (no helmets in those days), and the delicious freedom of having nobody to talk to.
Ronnie, whom I married when I was 19, was an extreme extrovert. He needed people around him all the time, and could not bear to be alone. But as I was a full time mother and housewife shortly after I was married, I could get my silence-fix during weekdays. And when François grew up and our lives became more social and busy, Ronnie was away from home often for work, so I had many evenings and some weekends to be silent. François is very similar; in fact, he needs it more than I do. So even when we were alone together, we could happily spend an entire day or even weekend pottering around, ignoring each other.
Just to clarify: I don't need to be alone/silent all the
time. Just a few minutes a day, and a few hours every few weeks is fine.
After Ronnie died I needed even more time, as I was obviously having things to deal with. And concerned family and friends, bless them, wanted to keep me busy, did not want me to be alone. Never understanding that being alone was exactly what both François and I needed. Craved. In that time I learned to take the phone off the hook, switch off my cell, and ignore the doorbell.
Mike is different. He understands. He is the same. He will happily spend hours in his workshop, grinding, welding, working, smoking. And I know to leave him alone. But by the nature of his work he gets lots of 'quiet time', while mine is more social. And Saturdays, when I am at work, he potters happily about. Quietly. Alone.
Then come Sundays. By this time I am craving some downtime. Desperately. And he has had enough alone, quiet, and he wants to go out. Go to a shop, a nursery. He want to go for lunch, or to visit family. And I go along, although I would rather be home, reading.
So when he told me weeks ago that he was going away for a long weekend with a group of guys, to the mighty men conference, I secretly rejoiced. Although I miss him hugely when he is gone, at last some me-time! A whole weekend!
But of course, there was school and work. Life intervenes. So I kept promising myself that I would do everything to keep Sunday open. On Saturday I had to work, but I left the shop as early as possible, so I could go grocery shopping. And Sean wanted to go to a movie, so we went out Saturday evening. Sunday, I kept promising myself. Sunday is mine. Sunday is alone. Sunday! Even bought a new book, so I could read.
Saturday evening my mom told me that my sister wanted me to join the family at her house for tea, because it is mid-way between the birthdays of 2 of her children.
I love my sister. I love her children. I don't see then nearly enough. I seldom see them on their birthdays. I love my brother-in-law. I miss them. So what do I do? To explain to my mom, my wanting to stay home, pottering quietly, rather than visit with family, is futile. She would never understand.
I did not go. I wanted to. But I wanted to be home, quiet, reading, sleeping, more. I’m sorry sis. But I think you do understand. I suspect you need that too...
What would you choose? Do you understand when you read this? Nod your head? Feel the need too? Or would you always choose people over silence? Are you a frustrated introvert as I am? Or are you an extrovert like Ronnie, who almost feared being alone? Do you do a sport, or a hobby, or even a long commute, because it gives you alone time?
Please tell me? I would love to know.