Friday, April 29, 2011

No Time To Mourn

What is an Extrovert? (from Carol Bainbridge)
... A person who is energized by being around other people.
... Enjoys social situations and even seeks them out since they enjoy being around people."
... When given the chance, will talk with someone else rather than sit alone and think.
... Tends to 'fade' when alone and can easily become bored without other people around.
... Tends to think as they speak, unlike introverts who are far more likely to think before they speak.
- Carol Bainbridge

Quietness and Extroverts: An Oxymoron
... Quiet...can drive an extrovert crazy.
... An extrovert often thinks best when they are talking. Concepts just don't seem real to them unless they can talk about them; reflecting on them isn't enough. - Carol Bainbridge

I am an extrovert. I am rejuvenated by being around others. I become restless when I'm by myself too much or for too long.There have been times that I couldn't wait to "have the house to myself." Mike would take the boys somewhere for the day (or even for a few hours) and I would think, "Yes, now I can have some peace and quiet." Only to be saying, an hour or two later (sometimes even 15 minutes later), "This is boring. There's no one around. All my friends are busy with their families. The boys are out for the day and I have nothing to do." Granted, I had lots to do - house cleaning (boring!) - yard work (boring!) -  laundry (boring!) - but there was no one to talk with, no one to be around.

For 8 months after Austin died I had a lot of alone time. I would crave being around others, but dread it at the same time. Every conversation brought to mind something Austin said or did. All I wanted to do was talk about Austin. Talk about how much I missed him. Laugh and cry at things he had said or done. Relive different moments of his life. But you can only do so much of that, before you wear out your welcome in a conversation.

I was unemployed, and for 7 hours each weekday had the house to myself. I ran errands, by myself. I listened to the radio, by myself. I mourned, by myself. There were projects that needed to be done. Projects such as cleaning out closets and painting rooms. But, for several months I couldn't bring myself to do them - too much quiet, in one place, at one time. On occasions, I'd have lunch with a friend or gab on the phone with them. But, most of the day I was by myself - definately not what an extrovert wants or needs.

Or is it? Sometimes, a little quiet is just what is needed, even for an extrovert...

A few weeks ago I started back to work and found myself, every week-end, very short and edgy. I think my family was ready to ground me to my room - where they couldn't see or hear me. I couldn't figure out why my mood seemed to change so drastically every week-end. And then it occurred to me: All day I'm focusing on work. In the late afternoon and into the evening I'm busy with the boys, making sure they get their work done, running them to their sports, getting dinner, and straightening the house. Throughout the entire day I don't have time to spend with my thoughts of Austin and in the evening I have no quiet time to reflect on my missing Austin. Basically, I've had "no time to mourn".

I had not realized the importance of "alone time". Prior to going back to work I had a lot of time (sometimes, maybe too much time) to work through my feelings. As sadness came over me I could "sit in it" as needed, usually for only 5-10 minutes, letting the tears come, allowing my mind to reflect on my thoughts, and then continue with my day. I would call a friend and chat for a bit, occassionally talking about Austin, but usually just light conversation - laughing about little things, but lightening the mood. Now, as an "Austin thought" comes to mind, I usually have to push it aside to focus on my work during the day. When the boys are home there is no such thing as "quiet" time, no time to process.

Just to type these words, "I need quiet time, time to myself" seems strange. Quiet time goes against my "extroverted" personality. I am not wired to be alone, usually. I realize, however, these are not usual times. This year has gone against what life is "supposed" to be. So I need to figure out how to work in this new friend, "quiet time".

To add to the previous post... "Today, I understand. Quiet is precious. Sometimes quiet clears the way for sounds... or for thoughts we rarely give ourselves time to embrace and process. Quiet is vital to our well-being. Today, I treasure the moments of quiet, no matter how small."

A couple weeks ago I was able to find quiet time here and there, and my week-end mood showed it. Last week was a little more challenging: the boys were home on vacation all day and my 96 year-old grandfather-in-law was here for a visit. There was no quiet time to be found. But I made it through and am back on track this week. Now that I'm aware of what I need - quiet moments - I try to work them into the day. Whether it's a quick drive to the store, alone, or making the most of the little moments I have, whenever I have them.

Throughout life, our circumstances change and we must change with them. If we insist on doing things the way we have always done them, we sometimes do ourselves a major disservice. We don't allow ourselves to grow and become the most we can be. I believe my overall personality will always the same - I love socializing, always have and always will. People energize me, give me extra life. But, today, life's experiences have impacted me in ways I never imagined, and I must allow myself to adjust with them...

I am an extrovert. But I am in a stage of life when I must realize that I need 'alone' time, more than I have ever needed before, to continue to work through my loss. The amount of quiet time required each day will change as time goes on - it already has. But for now, I must allow myself to enjoy those silent moments, reflecting and knowing that some day I won't need "time to mourn".

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