I need a place to be my self by myself.
I first wrote that down in January 2015 when my mum was hospitalized for 20 days. Little has changed since.
As I wrote in this post, there are currently two mes: before my mum died and after my mum died. What I would like to explore today is how that statement still rings true following the death of my mum.
I am an introvert. I never used to be though. Anticipatory grief will do that to you. People find it hard to believe I am introvert because I am extremely confident. I am also no wallflower, mostly due to my very loud laugh and big dick energy. Loudness does not equal extraversion though.
Carl Jung explained that an introvert is someone who has to be alone to re-energize, while an extrovert is energized by being around people.
People drain me. Colleagues in particular I find underwhelming and exhausting. Having to be cordial and civil from 8:30 to 5 with people you do not get along with is hard work. That alone should come with an annual pay rise. One of my goals for this decade is to leave employment because I can no longer handle colleagues. When I was still staying with my mum we had an understanding that when I get home from work I need at least 30 minutes to decompress.
I have always enjoyed my own company and have no qualms with going to dinner, a movie, a holiday etc. etc. by myself. But in the years of my mum’s illness it grew from easily spending a few hours/days by myself to being my biggest support system. People can disappoint you, inadvertently or otherwise. And when you are grappling with something as life changing as anticipatory grief, it is more painful when people let you down. So I learnt to rely on the one person that is always there for me. Me.
Let it be clear that I am not saying people are nothing but disappointing. What I am saying is that sometimes people are not there for you the way you want. They are there for you the way they know how. And sometimes it is not enough. Or it is not what you need. So you have to be your biggest support system.
I am there for myself in two main ways; journaling and therapy. I journal to keep things in perspective. There are times when things are too difficult, painful and raw to say out loud to myself, let alone share with my closest friends. I find much catharsis in writing this difficult, painful, raw thing I am not yet ready to say out loud. When I am ready to talk about it, but not to anyone close to me, I share with my therapist. A lot of times I like to get high, but as my therapist helped me realize the day before my mum’s 10 month anniversary, that method helps no one. So I am practicing healthy ways to process my grief.
This year has been interesting in that I have been more outgoing, but also more withdrawn. Some days I am excited to hang out with my people and have a good time, whether indoors or at the club. Other times I miss my mum so much it is a struggle for me to get out of bed in the morning. It takes every ounce of energy I have, leaving me with nothing for the rest of the day. Days like those it is hard to smile/laugh/hold a conversation and the thought of faking it for anyone is too much. Days like those I need to be my self by myself.