Friday, August 14, 2009

Extrovert + Babyloss = Introvert

There are a lot of things about losing a child (or two) that suck. Oh. Wait. Everything about it sucks.

And that statement, even in its completeness and all-encompassing-ness, is still an understatement.

Some days, what I resent the most (besides the absence of my daughters and the sadness behind my husband's eyes) is this new anxiety I feel when it comes to any social situation even remotely out of my control or comfort zone. And that zone seems to be getting smaller and smaller.

And this makes me crazy. I still shudder when I think of the paralysis, the Fear that came over me the first few times M. pulled me out of the apartment after those dark days. "Pulled" is not just a creative literary turn here, it was a physical act. And I cried. And I shook. And a little bit of that still happens every time I walk out of my fucking door into something where there are unknown variables, people I might not know, conversations I might not be able to control.

What the Fuck.

New things! New people! New situations! Unknowns! Dudes, this shit used to be my wheelhouse. My comfort zone. As a social butterfly, my wings were huge. Overpowering at times. And now...


Back in the early days of our relationship, I had to get used to M.'s social anxieties. If I ever committed us to a social event with folks or at a place or to do things we kinda knew but not that well, he would get so upset. Like, physically upset. Like, sometimes would have the runs so bad we would actually end up canceling because he could not leave the house. On the days we were able to make it, as soon as we arrived at the dreaded event, M. would transform. He was (and is) a Professional Conversationalist. He has this amazing gift of making you feel good when he talks to you. You realize that you are talking to someone that has managed to pull from you things you want to talk about, opinions that really matter to you. You would never know that you were conversing with someone who was literally shitting their pants they were so un-eager to be there.

Sometimes this quirk was funny to me. Other times it absolutely enraged me. I would shout "sabotage!" He would plead, "please believe me, this is out of my control." His way of dealing with it was to be absolutely noncommital to every invite. Maybe. We'll see. I'll have to check..... This would make me even madder. He couldn't see why. His rationale: There are no expectations. If you show up, it is a pleasant surprise, as opposed to anger or disappointment if you say you are going to be someplace and then bail.

Under promise. Over deliver.

Now I get it. And I wish I didn't.


Nadine said...

I am an introverted extrovert, I love socializing, meeting new people etc, but need my down time.
With infertility, it has been a bit of a nightmare, I just wanted to avoid anyone talking or asking about babies.
Now when somone asks if we are trying - it is my husband who pipes up and says yeah - we are having lots of fun practicing (like having sex would actually result in a baby - well not sex with me at least).
Now if I have to do social things, I, believe it or not psych myself up. So I go do a hot yoga class (something the knocked up can not do) and feel powerful before I socialize, when they talk about the hassels of kids, I talk about the excitement of hot yoga, and the freedom to stay out all night.
I also highly recommended getting the audio version of "how to make friends and influence pople" by dale carnegie - it really has helped me seperate and focus on them.
It's hard - hang in there.

m said...

So FUNNY you mention that book because I have actually been contemplating buying it - for my professional not personal life! I was just at a conference and at least 2 presenters (speaking on different topics) in all seriousness strongly recommended it as a must read! This settles it. Amazon, here I come....

I have been trying to appreciate the things I do now that I could not do (or not do as easily with kids in tow). Small consolation, but sometimes it does help.

Lindsay said...

I relate to this post. I know exactly what you mean.

Barbara said...

It took me years to overcome shyness and social anxiety, to the point where people didn't believe that I was shy because I pretended so well. I've taken a big step backwards since losing George. I don't have the energy to pretend any more.

It's tough. I feel for you both.


T said...

This has been a challenge for me as well - nervousness about awkward conversations keeps me at home far too frequently these days.

Its a tough road, isn't it?

michelle said...

I agree with Infertile in the City - there is something about Hot Yoga that absolutely mkes me feel strong (an totally drained tired) but it let's me channel my focus from the emotinal to the physical - even though I usually cry at yoga too.

annacyclopedia said...

Abiding with you, m. I wish you didn't have any reason to understand this shit.

Kami said...

It makes it so hard to go out. Eventually people got used to me being non-committal about coming and then leaving early if things weren't going well. Fortunately, I have many wonderful friends who at least pretended to understand.

I can remember at least a couple times when I sat out in the car for an hour so that Brad could stay for both of us because I thought it was important to show support - like for someone's important celebration.

I wish I could say it will get easier. With practice I got better, but then would relapse. Having a kid has helped, but I am far from cured.

Dani819 said...

I hear ya- I was an introvert to begin with, but a fairly socially skilled one, if I do say so myself. Now I feel like I have 9 heads. Questions like "How are you?" or "What's new?" stop me dead in my tracks. Though it's almost always better than I anticipate that it will be, I often have to remind myself of why it's worth the energy to try.

Kate said...

I've never understood extroversion - I was painfully shy as a child, and am still socially very shy as an adult. Strangely, I've never really had much of a problem in work situations, or piping up in class, or in a meeting. But if I think that any kind of potential friendship is on the line, I get very quiet again. I'm just not good at making new friends.
I'm not surprised that all the awful shit you've been through has caused a change in your personality, or at least given you the deep need/desire to focus on yourself and DH and this battle, rather than expending your energy getting to know others. Or could it "just" be depression?
I'd bet things will change back to normal when you finally have your child in your arms. In the meantime, it may be good for your DH to have to be the one to get you out.
Hope you manage to feel a little better sometime soon.

Mick said...

We had a very similar situation. Having to go into the classroom every day after it happened almost killed me. It's such a strange feeling, after being an extrovert for so long. Even after two years and a little baby, I'm still not the same man I used to be.

But it was me who had to 'drag' my wife out the front door.

It's really, really sad how a person's personality can change like that...

Bluebird said...

Oh I soooo get what you're saying. Growing up, I was content with a book. Then, in college, I forced myself out of my comfort zone and became quite the little social butterfly! Now? Now I'm not sure who I am anymore, but I do know that I'm not comfortable in the butterfuly role anymore.

You're right - it sucks. It all sucks.

Anonymous said...

Yup, I was pretty social before, now, not as much. xo.

Sue said...

I've always been an introvert, so I can understand how you feel. So sorry you've undergone such a radical change. Now is the time you need social contact and support the most.

niobe said...

So true. And I was never anything resembling an extrovert to start out with.

nancy said...

I have had this post in my reader, wanting to wait until I had some advice, or something ~real~ to say. I'm am a HUGE extrovert so I thought since we were the same, I could maybe help. But then I thought how you went through such a terrible loss and I haven't had something so earth shattering happen to me yet besides the average disappointments. So I can't help. But I can let you know I'm feeling for you. And wish so badly there was something I could say.

Lindsay said...

M, you won my little contest on my blog. I can't wait to get to work crafting your favorite sweet indulgence in miniature. Go to my blog on that post. At the end of the comments are what to do next.
I can't wait to get your e-mail.
Love Lindsay

Monica said...

Funny. Why is loss so weird like that? For me, I actually became sort of a ridiculous hyper-extrovert as a result of Zach's dirth. Don't get me wrong, I was always a talker and attention-hungry fiend at cocktail parties. But I became even more so, mostly out of fear that someone would think I (gasp!) was upset or something. God forbid one come across as weak or awkward or upset over LOSING ONE'S CHILD!

But I'm working on that: balance. Learning to not be afraid of my own feelings and grief, stepping back from the social scene when I need it. It's hard. I rely on caffeine a lot.

SLM said...

Hi "m"-

I am Shannon, one of the commenters from the now famous Moms at Work blog from today.

I can tell you that the title of this entry describes my life! I lost tripets to prematurity in 2005, and went from being an extrovert to an introvert almost overnight.

I wish I could say that it gets easier and the social butterfly in you will rise again and fly, but I can't. Yes, my life is different now, and my grief isn't necessarily on the tip of my tongue every single day, but it has defined who I am.

Do you know about the LAMB's yahoo group? I found it to be a great support when I first lost my triplets. There is also a LAMB's group on Facebook, although I don't know that it's particularly active...

A word of caution...while I would love for you to check out my blog, it might be sad for you to do so. After our second loss (the triplets; our first was a singleton who was stillborn) we successfully adopted twins who are 2 and a half. We also recently found out that I am pregnant again. I completely and totally understand if the topics are too sensitive for you (Honestly, they often are too sensitive to me!), but I wanted you to be aware.

Many blessings to you, fellow member of the "loss club". I wish you peace and joy...