Dealing with a Party I Wasn’t Invited To

image courtesy of C4HouseParty

image courtesy of C4HouseParty

My next door neighbors had a birthday party in their backyard on Saturday night and the music was really loud. It was so loud, I could feel the bass from the speakers vibrate through my body. Granted the music was good (Earth, Wind, and Fire, Gap Band, S.O.S Band, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Total, Missy Elliott, 112), but still….

As I was thinking about how disturbing the loud music was, I realized this is probably an issue that may affect me differently since I’m an introvert. It was a nice Saturday night in the summer. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that many people were out at other parties, at the club, or doing some other activity that was taking place outside of their homes.

But as the hours passed and my headache grew, I was getting more irritated because a great Saturday night for me entails being in bed and watching television or reading a book. I treasure that time when I can stop thinking so intensely about my life and other issues in the world and just watch tv shows or movies. The loud music was seriously interfering with that.

The neighbors finally shut everything down around 1a.m. At that point, I was ready to go to bed. I solely express any complaints I have on this blog because even though the noise was a bit nerve-racking, I definitely think people should be able to throw parties in their own homes. But let’s just say I thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet of Sunday.

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How Should I Kill Myself?

That is a question I asked myself on a nightly basis during the 12th year of my life. I didn’t want to kill myself in a way that would lead a bloody mess – that would just be rude and inconsiderate. I had to make sure that the method of suicide I chose was effective to ensure that I actually achieved my objective on the first try. Slit my wrists in a bathtub filled with water? Overdose on the supply of prescription medication in the bathroom cabinet? Decisions, decisions.

I spent hours every night in bed thinking about how I could kill myself until I finally fell asleep. Every time I woke up and realized I survived to live another morning, I was pissed. FUCK! I have to get through another day. I have to put that mask on one more time before I leave the house and go to school.

Anybody who has suffered through depression knows about the mask – attempting to hide your real feelings of pain, anguish, and exhaustion by conjuring up a look that somewhat resembles happiness or normality. Making sure your appearance and behavior will help you fit in with the others. Doing just enough so that people don’t suspect how miserable you are and won’t ask the questions you don’t want to answer.

People who are suicidal don’t usually talk about it…with anyone. Why would we? They won’t understand our pain. The reason we got to this point is because we tried to reach out to people in our own little way only to get shot down and rejected. It wasn’t so much the culmination of traumatic events that got us to this point, but feeling like we truly are alone. When we keep all of that pain inside, can’t release it or aren’t able to share it with someone who is compassionate and empathetic, it chews us up inside until we can no longer stand it. There is only one option for release, only one way to end all of the pain for good – suicide.

When the friends and family of the latest suicide victim say they didn’t see it coming and had no idea, I totally get it. We don’t want them to know. We don’t want them interfering with our plans. The decision has been made. Just the how, when, and where are still up in the air.

Since I’m writing this post, I obviously didn’t carry out my plans. I was slowly able to pull myself out of the abyss. I still struggled with low-self esteem issues for years, but at a certain point I decided to let the suicide option go.

A friend of mine told me that when she was suicidal, her friends kept trying to convince her not to do it. She merely wanted to end all of the pain that consumed her, so she thought they were being selfish by trying to talk her out of it. Since I had been exactly where she was at a certain point in time, I completely understood what she meant.

 

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Writing is My Love and a Struggle

My career requires that I write…a lot. I absolutely love writing, but at the same time I struggle with it. Whenever I write in my journal or express my thoughts in a space where I assume no one will read it, I’m able to fully let go and it feels amazing. If too many days pass by without me writing something, I don’t feel right.

By using letters to form words that grow into sentences and expand into paragraphs, I’m able to declutter my mind and actually make sense of things that didn’t quite make sense before. It almost feels like a cleansing. But when I know other people will read my writing and possibly judge me, it stresses me the fuck out! The fact that I’m an INFJ (according to the Myers-Briggs type indicator) who is already predisposed to grappling with issues of perfectionism certainly hasn’t helped matters. Since my income and livelihood are dependent on my ability to put pen to paper or rather type out letters on a keyword, you can see why this is a dilemma.

Usually, when I have an assignment, I end up putting it off and wait until the last minute to finally complete it. I keep convincing myself that I have more time until it finally gets to the point when I have to start writing in order to meet the deadline. It’s like the threat of the deadline pushes me past my fear of writing something shitty or the fear not being able to satisfy the other person’s expectations. The fact that I’m not well-organized and don’t complete my writing assignments days in advance has always been a source of embarrassment for me.

I recently reached a breaking point and confided in a friend. She stated that my fear and stress related to writing is probably connected to being beat as a child whenever any of my homework wasn’t done perfectly. After she said that, I thought, “oh, shit!” When I was a child, my mom spanked me and yelled at me if my homework didn’t meet her standards. I couldn’t just erase my mistakes. If I made a single error, I had to start all over. There were nights when I rewrote my homework 9 or 10 times before it looked acceptable in her eyes. According to my friend, on a subconscious level I still believe that whenever I write something subject to being critiqued, there is a fear that I will possibly be physically harmed.

As soon as she said that, this is how I felt:

A few years ago when I had an emotional breakdown/breakthrough, this is pretty much what it felt like inside of my head.

Like many people who’ve experienced childhood abuse and trauma, I still have a difficult time seeing the numerous ways those events affect my life on a daily basis…until someone shines a light on it. It dawned on me how much time I’ve spent over the years procrastinating before I started writing book reports, papers, blog posts, articles, and every other type of writing assignment throughout high school, college, graduate school and in my professional career.

On an intellectual level, I knew the overwhelming fear of criticism that always crept up didn’t make any sense and was totally irrational. I really couldn’t understand my own behavior. I was on autopilot stuck in avoidance and procrastination mode until it finally reached that time when I had to get the work done. But on an emotional level, my behavior makes complete sense. Of course I would want to avoid doing a task that could potentially lead to me being physically harmed if it wasn’t considered good enough in the eyes of the person judging my work. At least that is how my subconscious sees it – the part of me that controls the steering wheel.

In the African American community, hitting your child is an acceptable form of discipline. Hopefully, that mindset is starting to change, but when I was a child, spanking your kid was considered the norm. My mom spanked me, her mother spanked her, and my grandparents were also spanked as children. The pathology of abuse was passed down from generation to generation.

I always knew that being hit as a child definitely damaged my self-esteem. I’ve talked to my mom a few times about how badly I was hurt by getting hit. The physical wounds healed years ago, but the psychological wounds still exist. She validated my feelings and stated she had no idea that I was holding on to the pain for so long. She said that if she had known much pain hitting me was going to cause, she wouldn’t have done it. She was just raising me the same way that she was raised and never questioned it.

I’m still in the process of healing those wounds, but knowing that my issues with writing are related to the childhood physical abuse is a relief and has brought me a lot of clarity. Now that I know what the problem is and why I act the way I do, I can finally address it.

 

 

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My Mom Was Hit By A Car

I know I’m going to die. I know everyone I love is going to die. But the realization that death can literally happen at any moment is usually not at the forefront of my mind. I’ve had countless conversations over the years with my mom, brother, friends, acquaintances and just assumed or rather expected to talk to them again at some point in the near future.

The fact that I’m constantly living my life based on the wrong assumptions came crashing down like a ton of bricks when my brother contacted me in the middle of the night to tell me our mom was hit by a car. I couldn’t believe what he told me. I thought I heard him wrong. He said that Mom was hit by a car when she was walking home from the train station. She has walked back and forth from that train station as part of her daily commute to work for nearly 22 years without incident, but on a random weekday she gets hit by a car.

When my brother told me she was hit by a car, my first thought was if she was dead. He quickly told me that she was ok. The driver was at a stop sign and slowly hit the accelerator to start moving the car when he hit her. Apparently, it was dark out and the driver couldn’t tell if my mom was a person or a shadow. As soon as he felt that he hit something, he jumped out the car to check what happened. My mom hit the hood of the car and fell on the ground. The driver was terrified and thought that he had run over her and she was stuck underneath the car.

After my mom was hit, she had the wherewithal to call my brother. He came running down the street to get to her. The driver called 911. The paramedics arrived and checked her out. She was sore after hitting the ground. My mom insisted that she was fine so the paramedics let her go home and didn’t think it was necessary to take her to the hospital.

When I found out about the accident, I was filled with a bunch of emotions. I wanted to cry but I didn’t understand why since I knew she was ok. I guess the thought of losing my mom suddenly became a reality for me and it was frightening. Even when you are a full-fledged independent adult, how do you deal with losing the person who has taken care of you and loved you unconditionally from the time you were born? My world would be a totally different place without her. I didn’t want to face that world. I’m not ready. I don’t think I ever will be.

It took me awhile before I could talk to one of my friends about the car accident because it was so hard for me to figure out what I was going through and how to adequately express it. Finally, I told my friend what happened and how it affected me emotionally.

I wished I was there with my mom, but that wouldn’t have made a difference. My presence in the same state wouldn’t have prevented her from getting hit and it won’t stop her from potentially get hurt in the future.

I was at a loss. I couldn’t focus and had a really difficult time getting my work done. It was even tough having mundane conversations with people. For me, it was like pretending everything was normal when nothing felt normal. My world just nearly turned upside down. I felt helpless and for two days I kept feeling like I was on the verge of crying.

My friend told me that I was experiencing secondary trauma. Even though the event (getting hit by a car) didn’t directly happen to me, when something happens to a person you love, it still deeply affects you. She advised me that secondary trauma is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. Feelings of fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and difficulty concentrating or performing routine functions are very common. It is also typical for counselors and other professionals who regularly interact with people who have experienced traumatic events to feel the effects of secondary trauma as well.

As soon as my friend put a label on it, I suddenly started to feel a lot better. It was comforting knowing that what I was experiencing was normal and that a lot of people go through it. She also told me that as humans it would be difficult for most of us to get through the day and accomplish what we need to do if we are constantly thinking about our deaths and the deaths of our loved ones occurring at any moment.

The car accident happened a few weeks ago. My mom has fully recovered physically. I’m not grappling with all of those emotions anymore. I no longer feel like I’m about to cry at any moment. But I’m definitely more grateful for every additional day I get to talk to my mom and everyone else I love. Thankfully, I haven’t gone back to taking those moments for granted.

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Hi Sexy, How are You?

I decided to write this blog because I need to do something different. I’ve spent so many years of my life doing things for other people and learning and writing about topics that were of no interest to me in order to earn a paycheck. It’s time for me to do something for myself just because I want to and because I can.

I chose the name Life of an Introvert for this blog because being an introvert – more specifically an INFJ according to the Myer Briggs test – has had such a profound effect on my life and the way I see the world. From childhood I knew I was different but I had no idea there was a term for it or that other people were this way.

So basically, since I was a child I tended to get exhausted being in crowds or around a lot of people for any extended period of time. My idea of bliss is staying in bed reading a book or browsing the internet. I’ve always been able to count the number of friends I’ve had on one hand. I’m more of a quality over quantity kind of girl. That just barely scratches the surface but we’ll get more into who I am as time progresses.

No one in my family understood why I didn’t want to go out all of the time or socialize with more people. They misinterpreted my desire to spend time alone as being shy. They loved me but they didn’t understand who I was even when I tried to explain it to them. By now, my immediate family members know how I am, but I still run into the extended relative who questions why I don’t love spending all of my time outdoors and with people. This may seem like a stupid thing to complain about, but I’m sure the other introverts out there totally understand where I’m coming from.

Whenever I openly expressed the way I viewed events and people, being called weird by my peers was an unpleasant but fairly common experience. Don’t even let me get into the high school years…but I will. I viewed those four years as a prison sentence in which I decided to keep my head down, get through it with as little drama as possible and get out. Over time, I learned to keep most of my thoughts to myself and created a rich elaborate world that only existed in my mind and on the pages of my personal diaries.

When I was younger, I wished I could have found more people who were like me and who I could relate to. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt so lonely and sad for all of those years. So, for those two people out in the world who somehow find this blog and can relate to my way of thinking, I just want to say, “Hi sexy, how are you?” ;)

 

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