I'm not going to church this morning. It would be great. It's the primary program after all. The children will all sing and get up to repeat the lines that their teacher whispers in their ears. So adorable. But with it brings lots of people.
I have learned that I'm still good at being social and I can even maintain a social extroverted side for long periods of time but it severely drains my battery. I have to recharge. I began to feel this morning as if I had gone backwards because it's been so hard lately to go to church. I got so good after first starting my medication at going at least for Sacrament that not being there now is making me feel like I've made no progress.
Then I look at where I've been for the last two years.
Surely this is where I started if I look at just today. 2 years ago being around people began to stress me more and more. Church was always so full and then you file into a class room to sit even closer with others without the benefit of your wife and kids as a buffer it gets worse. It's hard to concentrate long enough to feel the spirit when your mind tells you that you should be running and that you're having a heart attack at the same time.
After going through that more and more for many months I sought help and treatment and things got better. By this time last year I was doing reasonably better. Though I had moments (like when Tina lost her job) that it was hard to be around people I still could usually make it to at least part of church and talk to people about it.
I was conditioning my social batteries to accept a bigger and bigger charge so to speak. Then this Summer came and it started to get a little harder to sit in church again. I was able to do things like practice piano in a room during gospel doctrine and that usually gave me a little recharge to make it through the rest but I could tell it was getting worse. In the past 2 months it has gotten almost as hard for me as it was 2 years ago up until right before I sought treatment. Have I really undone everything?
Sitting here I realize that I haven't gone backwards. Certainly I'm doing more now than ever.
This past Summer I started working on campus. That was draining but as a custodian I didn't HAVE to socialize a lot. I could work through it. But in August school started and I was also singing with the dedicatory choir for the Ogden Temple. Suddenly I'm socializing 8 or 9 hours a day 6 days a week with only a Saturday to recharge. My better conditioned social battery has been running on maximum and draining all the way each week. My battery still charges rather slowly so I don't always have a full charge to make it.
It was hardest right after the dedication. I was recognized. Lots of people would come to me and say how great the choir was. Not realizing how hard that is for me to handle. It's even more difficult for me because I have a weird philosophy about singing in church. It should be acknowledged but more in the way you do a prayer. It's not a performance. it's a participation in the ceremony that is a church meeting. The choir in the dedication more so. You can disagree with me if you want that's ok. It's just how I feel. I would rather someone come up and say "Good Talk" or "Good Testimony" than acknowledge my singing or my prayer. I'm not saying others are wrong but simply trying to get it out how difficult it is for me to field praise in those situations. It is like your phone working over time to find a signal when there is none or very little to be had. The battery drains faster and faster and it begins to overheat at times. Not to mention that socializing in general is much like running your phone or tablet with the screen on nearly all the time. My screen is my face and body and voice as I attempt to be the extrovert I feel is required when I'm around people.
I realize that I haven't gone backward. I'm still getting better and I'm learning more and more ways to not only better condition my social battery but also to turn off programs when they're not needed so that I can conserve energy, turn off the screen at times. Put it on airplane mode at times.
I get better everyday. Don't give up on me but if you reach out to me and I back away, it's not about you. I'm just trying to save my battery for a long period of time without recharge.