Friday, October 18, 2013

The Introvert vs The Extravert.

Most people who know especially those who knew me best when I was younger are surprised by my difficulties with social interaction.  It's not just because I love to be on stage but often when in a large group I have grabbed attention with wisecracks and antics.

Since introversion and extraversion  are often seen as either one or the other that makes sense.  But I'm not sure that it IS one or the other.

Every person has at least some desire to be loved, to fit in, and to relate to other people.  It's part of the human experience.  We search for much of our lives to find a companion, to have a family and to be a part of something beyond ourselves.

Every person also desires some solitude.  Some write.  Some listen to music.  Some Read the paper.  Some sit there and watch sports or a television alone.

Despite my desire to be alone I also always wanted to fit in, I had a strong desire to please, and was worried when I made a mistake in manners.  In order to overcome that I formed a personality that tried to grab attention, but I also waited in any situation to see what was acceptable.  When eating in a new place I hesitated to eat until I saw what the rules were.  In a large group I waited to see how the social structure worked.  Each time I altered my behavior to mimic and exaggerate my perception of the group structure.  Sometimes I failed and made mistakes and I would have to wait even longer to reintegrate into the group.  Sometimes I caught on fast and would get on a roll, often becoming a caricature of the group dynamic itself.  But it was always fueled by that innate desire to fit in.

You see it's not the introvert who has trouble with other people.  It's the extravert.  The older I've gotten the more I realize you can't please everyone, the more that trying to please everyone becomes a struggle.  The extravert can't adapt as quickly and more and more I find myself choosing to be alone because I'm afraid of making a social faux pas.

That's why I seemed to feel at home in a choir on stage.  I have a clear direction of what I'm supposed to do.  I have music to learn and memorize and I have a director to follow.  The chance of mistake drops and I have a whole choir of people working on the same goal.  I can be the extravert in a choir because I'm only afraid of mistake based on my own abilities to thrive in a musical setting.

I'm still not sure how to relate that to fixing my social issues, but I think part of the solution to my problems is somewhere in that insight.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A weekend of ups and downs.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to watch the semi-annual LDS General Conference.  It was an amazing conference and many times I felt as if the speakers were speaking to me.  In particular I was deeply moved on Saturday afternoon by Elder Holland's talk on Depression and mental illness.

This weekend was also very difficult for me.  Friday was our pay-day and with that comes errands with my wife.  It may not sound like a date to most of you but we look forward to the time we spend together planning, budgeting, building our 2 week menus and taking time to walk down the aisles of Costco, The Deseret Industries, Walmart, Winco and other stores.  We like to look even down aisles that we don't have anything on our list to get from.  We go to lunch.  Despite the time with my wife I get very stressed after so much time in public.  Much of our time is spent running these errands during the day but some must be put off til the evening or the following morning.  This makes me even more stressed because we have to leave the older children in charge and often come home to a mess, or chores left undone, homework not started and rules being broken as children often do when parents are away.

This particular weekend was particularly bad. Despite the uplifting words and the spirit of the conference talks by 5 PM Saturday I was fed up.  What seems to hurt the most is when I hear the children push my wife to her limits as well and the anger and frustration in her voice grows and I begin to hear it even from the other room.  It hurts when their disobedience makes it so that dinner is delayed to a point that she can't share it with us and has to take it with her to work.  I could not handle it anymore.  She took her meal packed with her to work and I retired to my room to try to calm myself.  When one of the children brought me a plate with food to be helpful I said I wasn't eating and asked him to leave me alone.

I watched the priesthood session alone and at bedtime I went through the house turning off lights leaving one small one on in the kitchen for the children who were still not finished with their tasks.  tasks that should have taken an hour or two in the morning.  I was afraid to speak to them for fear that I might yell and so I sent my message that it was time to finish quickly and head to bed with a flick of a few light switches.

The next morning did not bring calmness and while my wife slept off a full nights work, as an RN on the night shift must, in our room and the boys watched conference in the living room I streamed it in the office on the computer.  Once again I could not bring myself to share the dinner table with my children angry with them for upsetting their mother and afraid of expressing that anger in a harsh manner.  Once again I turned off the lights in most of the rooms that evening when it was time for bed but I could not bring myself to speak to my children for fear of losing my temper and yelling.  Once again, they were still not finished with their dishes assignments but went to bed soon after my silent message to them.

I reflected on the words spoken in conference.  I tried to say that they were just being kids.  And they were, but I was still angry.

This morning I woke and with few instructions asked them to begin our morning routine.  I turned on the news as become habit since when I was a much younger father I often didn't pay attention to weather reports and had to run a coat to school when my oldest was very young.  I took the oldest to school dropping off the 2nd at the bus stop on the way.  I had a stern discussion with the oldest who is struggling in a few classes due to procrastination,  I was upset and made that point very clear.  Many of the issues this weekend had been instigated by him though he wasn't fully to blame but I let him know how angry it made me.  I wanted to say more but quieted and let him have the final word as we said goodbye while he carried his gym bag and back pack with him into school.  I returned to pick up the two younger children and dropped them off at school making sure they had their lunches with them.

I was still angry and said little to my wife when she got home not wanting to burden her with more, but knowing she would worry anyway.  I slept through the morning next to her though and woke up feeling a little more calm and a little more rested.  I came to the computer and decided to see if I could watch conference again yet online.  I was overjoyed that not only could I watch but I could go right to the talk I wanted to hear.  The one that I needed to repeat.

It was the one by Elder Holland.  I watched it again a few times. I knew my anger wasn't the children's fault completely and much of it was still part of the emotional turmoil I have been in for so long.  I'm still upset with them for their actions recently but I began to let go of some of the heavier emotions.  His words reminded me not to give up.  It reminded me that some things I can change and some I can't.  His words reminded me that even a stalwart man of god such as himself, could know the pain of these feelings as he briefly talked about his own struggles as a young father.  It reminded me of the realization I had had this past summer that despite my faith in healing of these emotional wounds, that I had sought the help of learned professionals and his counsel reinforced that I am on the right path.

Here are some quotes in case anyone else needs them.

“Trust in God. Hold on to His love.” #ElderHolland#ldsconf

“Believe in miracles.” #ElderHolland#ldsconf

“Fatigue is the common enemy of us all–-so slow down, rest up, replenish, and refill.” #ElderHolland#ldsconf

"Whatever your struggle...don’t vote against the preciousness of life by ending it!” #ElderHolland#ldsconf

Here is a link to the talk..

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tina's Song

Back in the first year that Tina and I were married I wanted to write her a song and I've always struggled with it.  One day I wrote a few lines about how I couldn't write it because I couldn't find the words.

I've lost the page I wrote it on years ago but the first line and much of the small stanza I had written was still in my brain.  Today I figured it out.

Tina's Song

I sat down today and tried to write your song.
I’ve tried so many times but it always comes out wrong.
I just can’t seem to find the words that say just what’s inside.
And I'll probably just mess it up, but I can’t leave it untried.

If you could see you,
The way that others see you.
If you could know you
 The way that we all do.
If you could trust you
As much as everyone else does, then
You’d love yourself as much as I do
Love you forever and all time, amen

I watch you lying there peacefully asleep
The pale light shines on you and it almost makes me weep.
I brush your hair back softly and think to myself,
If I could give my love to you, so that you could love yourself.

If you could see you,
The way that I see you.
If you could know you
 The way that I  do.
If you could trust you
As much as I’ve always done, then
You’d love yourself as much as I do
Love you forever and all time, amen

Copyright © October 1, 2013 Timothy Coral Mair