Reflections on independence

This flag, reflected in the window of the Marriott San Diego when I was at Camp Widow last year, shows a little bit of how flags REALLY work: their symbolism might seem to be written in stone, but a flag at every moment, to every person, looks different. Linear, elemental, in primary colors, a flag symbolizes a foundation, but any real flag changes constantly, responding to wind and water. This one appears here to be cut off and wavy, and it was alone on just one tier of many mirrored levels of the hotel facade.

And I really hate Monday holidays (pretty sure I posted this last year too), which is a reflection of how crappy I am as a single parent.
Yes, I'm remarried, but Monday holidays are often deserts for us still, I don't know how to connect, I don't have family nearby. July 4 holds lots of triggers about Gavin's death even at 5 years (he died June 2, his birthday is July 2). In the 3 years I've been with Mr. Fresh, he's been out all day July 4 for a work/hobby commitment. Short Stack and I end up a bit alone, isolated almost as if on purpose, when everyone else is at their pools.

Because even married, I have to be able to be independent. I always was: and while I hated being a single parent, I got really really used to doing things my own way, without negotiations or input. I'm still adjusting to being a "partner" again. You'd think it'd come easy because I was so happy in my first marriage, but this one is so, so different, and I am nothing like I was either when Gavin and I got together (20 years ago!) and only a little like I was when he died (5 years ago). You'd think I'd be good at it because I'm "the marrying kind."

But there are times you want to be alone, and there are times you don't. I think part of my social funk is residual from widowhood, part of the process of having gone through many changes very quickly. I had to learn to be independent as a parent, which was already a new role. And I had to be somewhat good at that before I could find enough center to fall in love and give up some of my time and energy for the sake of a larger easier family life.

Living through loss has been for me, a journey of self discovery. (I know! GAG! But it's true. It's the only way I've gotten through... by learning). After the traumas of disease and death, and all the adjusting, I'm looking back more to my original pain. It will be a while to heal this, too, which had to be left undone while survival became job one. Back then, I coped by hiding and reading -- and I am starting to feel more like an introvert.

Being alone, and lonely, and isolated, and independent -- on my own in all these different ways, I'm learning that I LIKE it. The last time I took a Myers-Briggs personality assessment, 2 jobs ago, I tested as an extreme extrovert. They say that you're an introvert is you're "fed" by being alone, an extrovert if company and talking energize you. A lifetime later, I'm finding out that this was an adjustment -- it didn't feed me. Now that my life is more in balance, and easier, I'm finding that extroversion is fun and satisfying -- for example, all the outreach I do on Facebook and elsewhere -- I have developed the skills -- but I'm understanding it's not my easiest path.

Now I'm finding that if I listen really closely, and watch some of the things I most enjoy, those activities are solitary.

I'm finding that while I've learned so much about people, I'm a bit of a misanthrope at heart. And I'm not only talking about getting a break from parenting.

Not being in crisis means having a choice, being able to do what I need to cope, even though I know it's not ideal.

So I'm enjoying my time alone, maybe because I now have so many hours on my own that I CAN listen.

And I'm adjusting to life as an introvert, as part of a couple and a family, and someone who really really likes her "personal time," even though I am still craving more company on a Monday holiday.


Maria said...

I love this, Supa! One's survival mode self morphs into the grief phase, and then into something new again. And who was that original person before all the life-imposed change? Hoping you are enjoying some quiet, but not TOO quiet time! Hugs!

Jo said...

Supa, I too am adjusting to life as an introvert and one who really likes his personal time. And yet as a solo parent, caregiver for elderly parents and working full time in the public sector, I'm around people all of the time. Thank you for putting into words much of my own story.

Artemisia said...

Maybe you're a gregarious introvert. I laughed when someone said that once, but then I realized, umm, yeah. I need time alone like I need oxygen - but I need company (here and there) like I need...hell, I have no good metaphor. I need it badly, but just here and there. Too much and I shut down.

Funny how you really do figure out who you are when you go through something difficult.


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