Waking up struck by a desire to be alone, I paused and realized it is day 27, I am trying to go above and beyond my usual attempt to care for myself. It has always been a hard pill for those who love me most to recognize that I am an introvert, and yet it has always been clear to me.
My most cherished memories from childhood are of me alone in my bedroom making jewelry, organizing my knick knacks, cleaning my room, walking in the woods. As I grew older I recognized one of my superpowers was soothing others which came in direct conflict with my preferred existence, all by myself. Going through undergraduate was a tax on my personality solely due to the fact that living on campus in dorms there is no escape from others. But I found one, in the clay filled pottery studio where the majority of those I went to school with would not have ventured. I still yearn for time alone and I never have enough.
This morning even though I had several actions I should take that involve others, I decided to spend the day alone reading, cooking, and dreaming. All was going as planned until I went to do my laundry. Sitting on the floor of the laundry room was a woman I have never seen before, she glanced up at me as I walked in. I smiled and she pointed at one of the washers and said, "that one is open." Immediately, by her extended gaze, her timid and requesting smile, I could sense that she would be looking for a conversation.
I was raised to greet everyone, answer those that address me, and be kind to others. These early lessons have deeply conflicted with my desire to remain in my own personal experience regardless of whether there are others around me. I checked in with myself, what did I want most? I wanted to do my laundry in silence, without interacting with another, at my own pace, without being interrupted from my daydreaming.
It is day 27 and so as she continued to speak to me about which machines were out of order, how many minutes were left on her loads of laundry, the snow outside, and the storm to come I did not respond. For a moment, it felt cold and unavailable. In my stomach I felt the tension of my obligation to explain myself. I looked her gently in the eye and said, "I just don't feel much like talking, I hope you understand." She looked caught off guard, began to fidget, and chuckled uncomfortably. I witnessed as the gears turned in her mind trying to figure out my response.
It is hard to be true to our needs and simultaneously take care of others. All day, every day, I feel compelled to soothe others needs. Often it is just easier to do that instead of taking care of myself. This morning I decided to soothe myself and there are pieces of me that still feel guilty and uncomfortable about it.