Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Choosing The Price You Pay

It's difficult for me to say if my uncle was an introvert or an extrovert. Sadly, I can't ask him now. He did like to spend his time alone, would spend days at the lake, just drifting along in his boat. He loved living out in the country where he could be alone with the stars. But he also had many friends. Not just acquaintances, but people who were close to him. The sister of a friend of his came from 10-12 hours away, so she could help us out while he was in hospice, cooking us food, just being a shoulder to cry on. In those last years of his life, he had a hard time keeping up with all the people he wanted to talk to, between treatments and just being sick and tired, but he tried. 

I am not my uncle, however. I sit solidly in the introvert camp. Being around groups of people drain me. Even being around just a few people can be draining after a while. As the Professor, Ginger, and I plan on moving in together before our first child comes, I know that I will have to lock myself away in my room from time to time, veg out for hours to recharge when I need to. I'm glad we found a place where I won't have to share my bedroom with anyone, even my child. 

I have a few close friends. Two female friends who live in the metro, who I talk to more on facebook chat than anything else. Moneypenny lives four hours away, who I text with a few times a week (maybe) and try to see once a month. TyRoy spends his weeks 2 hours away and his weekends in the metro with his new wife, who I don't get to see very often because of our schedules and who I really should email more often. Occasionally, I'll talk or text with MP, more since I've been pregnant and he's concerned about how I'm doing. That's about it. Here and there, I will text with acquaintance-type people, but that's about it. It isn't a very large group.

I've tried branching out. Last fall, I tried to get out in the bdsm community as well as date through online sites. While I met many nice and fun people, nothing serious came of it. I stopped dating altogether just before I found out I was pregnant and then I stopped going to bdsm community events when my work hours changed and I started dealing with being pregnant. I was very overwhelmed and really retreated from more casual acquaintances, rather than have to expend more emotional energy on anything else. 

In the last few months, once I started to get adapted to this new 2nd shift schedule, I tried once again to find people that I could connect with through online sources. I was really lonely when I got off work, since none of my current friends are usually awake when I get off work. I just wanted someone to talk to, like you would with any friend after a long, tiring day. But I wanted someone who I had things in common with, who it was easy for me to talk to, who I didn't feel like I was always justifying my life to. I wanted someone it was easy to chat with, just like how it feels when you strike up a friendship with someone in any other context. But just like when I was dating last fall, I don't really have the emotional energy or the time in my life to expend on people I don't feel are a good fit for what I'm looking for. I know that sounds incredibly dismissive of other people and maybe it is. On the other hand, during neither period of time did I think that the people I chose not to have relationships with were not worthy people, in and of themselves. Even the people I had the worst dates with or the worst correspondences with still have good qualities and should have friends and romantic/sexual partners who they connect with. Hell, if I had unlimited time, unlimited emotional energy, and wasn't an introvert, I may have had successful friendships or other relationships with them. But I don't and we didn't. And, as much as I don't want to rob others of their own ability to choose to be in my life, I do feel like it is better for them to spend time with and on people they have a chance of a friendship or relationship with, instead of someone who probably won't be able to give them what they are looking for, or at least not for very long before she had to disappear again.

The older I get, the more I see the prices you have to pay for things, the trade-offs that have to happen. One of the big things you learn in DBT is radical acceptance, which is acknowledging how things actually are in this moment, so you can stop struggling with how it shouldn't be like this and start dealing with how it actually is. That means realizing your limitations and the limitations of the situation you are in, so you can either work within that or change how you see the situation. It's where you start to make the trade offs that you have to make to be an effective, not crazy adult. 

Sometimes, it means being selfish, knowing how much you have to give and only giving that to the most important people and things in your life, even when there are other people or things that are just as worthy or deserving. Sometimes, it means hurting other people's feelings, because they want to be someone you take a chance on, just like they are ready to take a chance on you. Sometimes, it means passing up a lot of opportunities, especially ones that you don't think are sure things, for ones you do feel more confident of, only to have those blow up in your face. Sometimes, it means being picky. Sometimes, it means being seen as a bitch or stuck up or difficult. 

And sometimes it means realizing that you'd rather be lonely because the price you'd have to pay to not be lonely is higher than the price you pay being lonely. 

There's one of those cliched self-help sayings that says that a person won't change until the pain they feel to stay the same is greater than the fear they have of the change they'd have to make, or the pain of making that change. For myself, this has definitely been true. I didn't put in the hardwork to change my life until the pain of that life was greater than my fear or change and the pain I worried I'd experience if I changed. Right now, I have to acknowledge that I'm not there in dealing with this loneliness. And I accept that I am actively making this choice. I'm not acting like there are no good people out there, for friendship or romance or sex. I'm not acting like there are not awesome people who would take a chance on me. I'm not saying that none of this makes me come off as a kinda shitty or difficult person, or even that I'm not those things. Just that I'm not willing to make this trade off. At least not right now.

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