Thursday, 29 March 2018

A crack of golden light


We had another snow day. If anything, more glorious than the first, although it literally lasted 24 hours and was gone. I spent several hours in it - just Dooley and me - and we decided, the two of us, that perhaps in another life we lived much further north because the snowy landscape made us both skip like puppies. I've just remembered as I type this that, during my attempts to journey to an upper world to meet my teacher/guide I always found myself in a night-time snowscape, walking from trees to a log cabin barely visible under the whiteness of it all. Clearly, this is 'a thing' for me.

Anyway, that was two weeks ago and we're nearly back at the full moon. The dawn goddess Ēostre was celebrated at the vernal equinox, bringing the light, and here we are at the Easter holidays. The clocks have moved forwards into BST and it's light until 7.30pmish. The blossom is about to burst on the fruit trees in my garden and, despite the rain, I can sense a tiny crack of golden light deep in the murkiness where I've been living for a few months.

I've done some good thinking down there. Most of which is purely for my own consumption and will never make it out into the world. But there is one thing I thought I'd write about. Not because I'm fascinating or anything, but rather because I think it might resonate with someone else who struggles with the same thing, even if it dresses a little differently.

One of the more lasting versions of "How do I identify myself" that have gained popularity in recent years has been the extrovert/introvert thing. There have been blogs and books and TEDtalks and Pinterest boards and data-gathering Facebook quizzes about it. We introverts seem especially fond of it because it gives us something we can point at when we can't find words. It excuses us from all sorts of things and keeps those pesky extroverts (who must surely be sick of being the Bad Guys by now) at bay. I know that for me, it has explained a lot about my life and my family history.

Like my father, I'm an introvert's introvert. I score at 98% introvert in my INFJness but even I am not anti-social. That misconception does not die and it's annoying. I like people. I enjoy people. I simply have very, very low capacity for them so I can't party all night. I can maybe party until 9pm, twice a year. If I absolutely have to. It's not the people I don't like, it's the feeling of being the party-pooper who needs to be carried home in a bucket. It's horrible.

Energy for being 'out' - physically, verbally or emotionally - is in such short supply that it gets used up quickly. An average day of interacting with my partner and my daughter, maybe a phone call from my extrovert mother, a neighbour having a chat, taking my daughter to a home-ed activity where the mothers are expected to sit and chat and arrange more sitting and chatting...by the time that's done, at about 4 in the afternoon, I can barely function. I wish it were different but it's not. I'm not.

I know some true introverts who do have quite a large capacity for outness. As long as they get their alone time, they're good for pretty much "normal life". Not me. At least not at this stage.

Alongside this is the HSP thing. The term Highly Sensitive Person was coined by Elaine Aron, more than 20 years ago. Because I'm grumpy and judgemental on Tuesdays and the occasional Friday, I always thought it was a bit over-indulgent (that tends to be my go-to insult when I'm being less than my best self). When I tested high on the scale, again and again, I just rolled my eyes and refused to see it. I'm no more sensitive than your average double decker bus. Not when it comes to the traditional five senses. Except maybe sound. And temperature. And bad smells. But my pain threshold is at the "chop off all my limbs with a rusty knife and I'll just calmly stare you in the eyes" level so I can't be an HSP, right? I am, I have been told on several occasions,"Tough as an old boot" and damn proud of it.

But...

In my dark, wintry quietness I've come to recognise that I am, however much I may dislike it, highly sensitive to energy. On some days it's like wearing your skin inside out. My own energy, other people's, places, other beings. Being sensitive to even the positive energy tires me and because I've been so determined to defend my bootness, I've failed spectacularly to build myself any protection or find ways to function well. Boundaries have not been part of my life except as an emergency, fire-fighting construction. I have regularly tried to push myself to do more than I'm capable of doing out in the world. Because I'm determined not to be an HSP, and introverts are not as socially acceptable as extroverts so we should all try to be more like them or we will shrivel and die.

None of the above is what I actually believe, deep inside, but I was dancing to the old tunes. Even when I thought I was smart and compassionate enough not to. It took grinding to a halt to make me see. #highpainthreshold

My last attempt to just pull myself together and get out there in the world or fail miserably at life, again, was to tell myself I could take something that made me happy and sell it as a lifestyle and business. Yep, oils. I love the oils; I like the company and its outreach into community projects; I have zero problem with network marketing when it's done well; I love some of the people who are doing it successfully and ethically. So why not me? I'd just need to get over myself and get "out there". I'm busy home educating now but before long I'm going to need an income. I'm in my 50s, out of the work force, and getting "a job" doesn't seem likely or very desirable to be honest, so here was a chance. And I see plenty of very successful introverted HSPs out there being, as they say, "Boss".

Couldn't do it.

Trying to make myself stand up straight and reach out to people felt like trying to bend my knees the wrong way. I did tapping, I did guided meditations, I journaled, because clearly I was experiencing "fear" and I needed to push through it if I was ever going to succeed at anything ever again. Most of all I felt like a massive failure. I started losing sleep trying to force myself to feel "brave".

It wasn't until I ground to that halt that something inside said,"What if, the reason you are unable to do this is because you're not meant to? Or if you won't buy that, what if it simply doesn't matter?". Giving this possibility some light let it grow until it became "What the world needs from you is to be who you are. You are not faulty or broken. You are supposed to be like this. Now be it."

There are bad days when I congratulate myself on finding yet another excuse. Yet another way to cave into fear and run away. But having been given an opening, this new mindset is growing and it feels good. It feels like it's me and it feels like something worth protecting.

Yesterday marked my 40th day this year that required migraine medication. Yep. It turns out that far from being a Tough Old Boot I'm quite the delicate flower. Makes me sneer at myself just to say that so I clearly have some work to do on the old self-acceptance, but I'm getting there.

I have noticed, because I'm keeping a migraine diary, that the days when I do something creative are the days when I'm okay. Chicken or egg? I'm not sure yet but I do know that Actual Scientists say that doing something creative lowers cortisol levels, and cortisol is a major issue in perimenopause and hormonal migraine. I need only go out and take a ton of photos, write a rambley blog post (ahem), or sit with a sketch pad and doodle, to somehow feel better. Is it cortisol dropping or is it the outlet of energy that is too bottled up? Both?

So as part of my own therapy I'm going to do The 100 Day Project and see how I get on. That's a post on its own, so more later. It starts April 3rd. I'll be doing it as a very introverted, 4w5 (I think I'm a Level 6 who aspires to Level 3, and by the way how spookily accurate is the enneagram?), HSP and trying not to beat myself up.

May Ēostre bring you golden light. Be who you are. Be who you're made to be. Breathe.

x







3 comments:

  1. i'm sitting here, giggling in the slightly hysterical way that one does when one reads something that one might have actually written themselves.

    it may surprise you to know that we are EXACTLY THE SAME!!!! *wipes sarcasm off screen*. We score identically on all of the things. Could it be that you're my twin who was born three years earlier?

    Same. same. all of the sames. Even the oils -- which i LOVE and use every day and will evangelize from the rafters (if asked) but can't take it any further because i simply. just. can't.

    And everyday energy expenditure? HA! Especially right now, these days, with my girl needing so much care and attention?! I'm in a heap by 9pm. Don't even ask for a coherent sentence.

    Ah.

    Good times.

    big love to you...and gratitude for putting it all into words. I sound less crazy when you write it out. xoxoxoxoo

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  2. WHAT A SURPRISE! I'm not sure about either of us sounding less crazy but it certainly feels good to know I'm not alone : )

    xxx

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  3. oh heavens, you guys are far from alone!

    being anything other than what one naturally is born to be is HIGHLY over-rated...

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