August 9, 2017

Ramblings of an Introverted Extrovert

Anyone who really knows me, knows that I am a people person. I thrive in situations where I am surrounded by people & I enjoy being a large crowd. I have worked in jobs where I get to meet people on a personal level & really get to know them (hence being an elementary school lunch lady). Well, all that was true until a year ago. The past year has changed me in ways I never expected. Now, I am a lot more comfortable staying at home in my comfy clothes working on a crochet project or building my jewelry business. I feel safe at home in my regular surroundings.

Let me take a moment to explain a few things. I hope this will help those around me understand a little better when I don't accept their invitation to an event, a get together, a family outing, etc. So, let me introduce you to a new Cathy.....

I don't like to be in large crowds of people. In fact, they scare the daylights out of me & send me into a panic attack. I would rather work alone then with a large amount of people. I still like to get to know other people, but I'd rather get to know my close friends & family better then meet new people.

I plan all of my outings around the busy times of the day. I know when a good time is to go to the grocery store so I am not in a crowd of people in the checkout line. I know when a good time is to go to the mall -- I will never step foot in a mall between October 31 & January 30th. I have learned that sometimes it is better to order things online so that I have the least amount of contact with strangers.

Taylor & I used to go on mother/son dates to the movies once a month or every few months. Now, I have to plan those around busy times & pray that someone doesn't sit next to me. I can't sit in the middle of a row of chairs or a church pew because I need to know there is a way out if needed. When I enter a building - especially one I haven't been in before - I need to know where the exits are first so I know I have a way out. If I'm at a restaurant, I need to sit in a way where I can see either the main exit or the emergency exit.

Church has also become a place that can lead to a panic attack. Holidays in church, when it is super crowded.....no thank you. Being surrounded by my church family used to make me feel safe & at home. Now I feel closed in & out of place. Please know that I have nothing against anyone in my church family or against my church itself. I can't go to extended family outings or get together events for the same reason & I have nothing against any of them either. I trust the people who are there, but right now, large crowds of people are not my cup of tea. Honestly, I get small panic attacks just thinking about it sometimes & I have to talk myself off the ledge so to speak.

I know it sounds completely odd, especially to those who have known me for years. I do still go out to the stores, go on outings & go to restaurants. I just only go when the stores won't be as crowded or when I am with a trusted friend or family members. I also only go to family outings or events when it is a small group of family members. Now, I do make myself leave the house at least a few times each week so that I am not a complete hermit. It is intimidating to say the least, but I make myself do it. I may only go to one store or visit with a friend, but I still make sure I leave the house. I go to work & I go to meetings that I have scheduled. I am also still apart of children's ministry at my church. Those are things that I can control, so to speak. They are also commitments that I have made & I have been challenged to keep every commitment. That is my way of making sure that I step out of my comfort zone on a regular basis.

There was a time, a few months after Daron died, when I refused to leave the house at all. I would order my groceries online & pick them up rather then go grocery shopping. I used to love spending time in the grocery store. That was my alone time & I would savor every minute of it. Now, I can't wait to get out of the store. I map out my shopping so that I am in & out as quickly as possible. I used to make small talk with the store employees. Now I try not to even make eye contact. I have gotten better then & I am proud of myself for the small steps.

To say that life was simpler when Daron was alive is an understatement. I look back over the past year & I can see just how much his death has truly affected me - inside & out. I never realized just how much I relied on him being around. Even when he wasn't at home for those last 5 years, I knew that I could call him to help calm me down. I knew that he was only a phone call, or an hour drive, away & that kept my mind at ease. He was my rock, my safe harbor, my calm in the storm. Now that he's gone I am finding it hard to calm myself down.

Before you say it, I know that God is my Rock, my Safe Harbor & my calm in the storm. I know that He is only a prayer away & the He will calm my heart. I know these things, but remembering them is a completely different story. I mentally kick myself when I remember a verse after I needed it to help calm my heart. I am getting better, with God's help, & I am thankful for that. But, I still prefer my home to the crazy world. I still prefer to stay in my fortress then step out into the chaos outside my front door.

Please try to keep in mind that I am still healing from a huge loss. My heart & mind are still very fragile. I am only doing what I feel is best to let them heal. I will get back to myself, or at least a different version of myself, one day. I can only heal one moment at a time & only with God's help. I have learned that grief truly is a marathon & not a sprint. I have to take it easy with my heart or I can risk damaging myself even more. Trust me, I don't like being an introverted extrovert. I miss my outgoing personality at times. But for now, I am happy, safe & secure resting in God's loving arms & letting Him heal my heart. God is helping me to heal as He sees & I know that He is doing what is best for me. He did create me after all & He is the Great Physician.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my journey with you. I wanted to be able to let you see another glimpse into who I am a year later. I am changing every day & I pray that my change will be for God's glory alone.

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