When I was much younger, I was THE party girl. Never home, getting into trouble constantly for staying out too late and fibbing about why, going from party to party without a care in the world. I was the girl up on the dance cube in the club, dancing the night away to loud, pumping dance music. My apartment was the spot after the clubs closed, where the party continued until the wee hours in the morning. Just the thought of any of that today copiously drains me.
After almost a decade and a half of being the victim of domestic violence, I changed. I’m truly not sure how much of the change was just brought about by being a mother and a widow and the obvious need for me to be there for my two young autistic children still at home. Even when I had the opportunity to go out, I was often cruelly denied by both my late husband and his nasty parents, who went out of their way to ensure I could never truly see the fruition of anticipated plans.
For example, I recall a few times when I would make plans with a good friend to meet for lunch. Nothing fancy, just a one to two hour excursion to have a burger and fries and maybe stop in a thrift shop or the like. When the day would arrive, I would call them if they had offered to watch them, and would almost always be told, “Oh sorry, we went ahead and made other plans. You’ll have to do it another time.” When I tried to remind them that I had made theses plans with them a week or so ago, they would remind me that “plans changed”. Other times, I would try to make plans to go to the pool at the apartment complex we lived in, to be told I had a limit of one hour at the pool and that was subject change if a diaper needed to be changed. You can’t make this stuff up. So, over time, they succeeded in their cruelty and I stopped making plans. My late husband almost always walked out the door laughing with a comment like, “Good luck with that!” when I mentioned I had plans. I truly was forced into the role of an introvert. Also, there was plenty of verbal abuse to make me feel badly about myself. A true recipe for introversion and social suppression!
It’s really easy for people to say things over the years to me like, “Well, why didn’t you just take the kids with you?” or “I don’t know why you bothered to stay! I would have left!” but I’ve gone over all that before. You don’t just withdraw several thousand dollars from some non-existent bank account and rent yourself an apartment to escape. All of those routes are shut off to you and family oftentimes just wishes you luck and they hope that things get better for you. He made sure the car was in his name or he would just disable it so I couldn’t use it. He controlled ALL of the money so I didn’t have enough to do anything but buy food and fill the tank once a week.
So, over time, the enthusiastic person you once were, waiting for the work day or week to end so you can meet friends for an exciting night clubbing or shopping just…fades away. Little by little, the concept of being an introvert just takes over and you at first accept it in order to make it through the day to day struggles. When the kids were in school and I was home alone for a few hours a day, that was my “night club”, that was my “day out for lunch”. I learned to somehow adapt to what was available at the time and somehow find a way to enjoy life.
Going on ten years later, I recall the times when I first started to do things I wanted to do as I was finally on my own and taking charge of my life. There were small things that started to happen that I noticed was bringing me out of my abused shell. Throughout my entire adult existence, I had always been relegated to the discount way of shopping. Pretty much all I had was from thrift stores or discount shops. My mother disdained them vehemently and would never do that, so, as an adult, I would seek out name brands at thrift store prices. So, after my husband passed away, I went to Macy’s one day and I purchased a designer purse. It took me a LONG time to process the guilt I felt, of excess spending and probably the concept that I felt I certainly didn’t deserve something so lavish. I still have it today and I revisit those long lost feelings from time to time, while no longer believing that I didn’t deserve something nice.
Several years ago, I broke far away from my introverted self and booked a cruise out of Miami. I arranged for someone to keep an eye on the children (they were much older of course) and I got on that plane and flew to Miami. I boarded the boat and went on the trip of a lifetime. I met new people, visited several countries, spoke with countless locals and stepped outside of my comfort zone. I remember the feelings I experienced during that trip and while I sometimes kept to myself, the friendships I made enriched my life so much.
So, today, I’m pretty much a combination of both types. The introvert is a large part of my psyche today and I don’t think that will change. I often joke about it being “too people-y” outside and I do not like really large crowds. Part of that probably has to do with the ADHD inside of me that can’t stand all the extraneous chatter bombarding me and too much visual stimuli, but the conditioning of many years of being introverted has added to that for me. I wound up marrying an extrovert, so I tend to be very extroverted when we are out and about. I am a curious person by nature, so I’m always wanting to learn more about everything around me.
Which personality type are you? Introvert? Extrovert? A combination of both?