An old introvert learns new tricks.

Two people discuss what it's like to be "peopled out."
Credit: Aaron Caycedo-Kimura. Used with permission.

Before my mom died, she and my dad regularly ate lunch in the dining room of their senior facility. Mom didn’t have the energy to make it down for breakfast and dinner, so they had those meals delivered to their apartment.

Mom, an extrovert, missed the socializing, but the schedule suited Dad, an introvert. I take after Dad, so when I visited, the limited “peopling” suited me, too.

For introverts, “peopling” is draining rather than energizing.

When our trio went down for lunch, I pulled out every reluctant extrovert cell in my body (and there are a few) for a song-and-dance-show. I turned on the charm. Since Mom wasn’t always her usual bubbly self and she so desperately wanted to make friends, I tried to be her girlfriend ambassador.

Those ninety-minute lunches drained me, but it was OK since I had a whole day to recover.

In case you don’t know, one of the hallmarks of being an introvert is not that you dislike people and/or socializing, but that “peopling” is draining rather than energizing. And just like any drained battery, introverts need to recharge.

After Mom died two weeks ago, I thought Dad might wither away in his room, but he put on his big boy pants and started going down to all three meals. I’m visiting him now, still turning on the charm at lunch and sometimes dinner, this time on his behalf.

After one particular noisy lunch gathering, my charm quickly wore thin. “I can’t believe you do this every day,” I told Dad on our way back to his apartment.

Introverts need to recharge.

When I got back, I opened my email, found this article about introverts and the cartoon above by the talented Aaron Caycedo-Kimura. It nailed my exact feelings. When I showed it to Dad, he agreed, with a laugh.

For too many decades, I was so caught up in people-pleasing, in wanting to fit it with the extrovert world, I ignored my need for solitude. And although I often enjoyed “peopling,” I ignored my need for recovery.

Mom and I had often talked about our extrovert and introvert experiences, but Dad and I never bonded over our introvert inclinations. Until now.

At eighty-seven, newly widowed after sixty-three years of marriage, Dad is living proof that it’s never too late to learn and you’re never too old to grow.

At sixty, newly bonded with my dad, I’m learning and growing, too.

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Promises to a Super Bowl fan from his non-fan wife.

Football

[I posted this two years ago, but tis the season, so here’s an update. BTW – I still still had to ask my husband who was playing this year!]

OK, right off the bat, er, pigskin, let me admit that I’m not a huge sports fan.

This is how out-of-touch I am with the Super Bowl scene: as I sat down to write this blog, I had to Google which teams were playing on Sunday. I know, I know, some of you are incredulous. I can’t explain how this has happened. And, yes, I am alive and breathing.

As a native of Pittsburgh, I would know if the Steelers were playing, but if not, I usually don’t pay attention. Anyway, in case you don’t already know, it’s the New England Patriots (again) and the Philadelphia Eagles. And it’s being played in Minneapolis. Don’t ask me why,  but they couldn’t have found a warmer place to toss around a ball?

There will be no big parties for us this year, so Michael won’t have a room full of guys to high-five at every touchdown, or discuss kneeling during the National Anthem, or analyze what happened to the Steelers this year (again.)

Michael will be watching the game with me. He’ll make a big fire in the fireplace, we’ll gather some snacks, leave any dishes left in the sink, and forget about returning phone calls. It will be a nice evening together, but I know I’m not the most thrilling Super Bowl companion.

So here are five promises I making to my husband to help maximize his viewing experience:

1. I promise to figure out which team is wearing what colors, right at the beginning of the game, so when the first big play happens, I don’t blurt out, “Now, which team is that?”

2. I promise that when Michael goes to the kitchen for another beer, I’ll pay attention to the game so when he comes back and asks what happened, I won’t have to answer, “I don’t know – I was looking at the screen but not watching the game.”

3.  I promise that when I fall asleep in the middle of the second half, I won’t be leaning against him on the couch, so he can get up easily when he needs another beer.

4. I promise that when a player doesn’t get right up from a tackle, I won’t gasp loudly and bring my hands up to my face and say things like, “I can’t look” and “I could never be a football wife.”

5. I promise to get in touch with my inner-sports fan for the evening. Even though I don’t get caught up in the Super Bowl hype, there really is a certain beauty when the receiver tears down the field, looks over his shoulder, reaches up and plucks the football from the air. I hate to make the comparison, but it’s as elegant as ballet.

And when the quarterback throws a perfect spiral right down the center of the field and nails the receiver in the gut – BAM – I get a little thrill even if I don’t know what the score is or who the team is.

The coolest to watch, though, is the way the players drag their toes across the turf when they complete a pass near the sidelines. I’m mesmerized–through every single instant replay.

I’ll do my best to make it a fun evening. I might just enjoy the action.

Hmmm. Maybe I am a fan after all?

Self-acceptance and spouse-acceptance on Valentine’s Day.

Angels - 1I overslept this morning, Valentine’s Day, getting up not too long before Michael, my husband, left for work. When I came down to the kitchen, on the counter sat a big red envelope on which he had drawn my name in a heart pierced with an arrow.

I had intended to be up before him so I could put my card on the counter, proving that I bought one already. Until I had some coffee coursing through my veins, however, I wasn’t coherent enough to remember where I hid the card in the dining room, let alone dig it out, think of something clever and mushy to write on it, sign it, and place it next to his.

When Michael walked into the kitchen, the first thing he said was, “Since I’m leaving now, you’ll have time to go to CVS today to buy your card.”

“I have one!” I told him. “I bought it yesterday, really.”

And we both had a good chuckle.

After 35 years of marriage, we can joke about our foibles and accept each other’s faults. It takes self-acceptance and spouse-acceptance. That gift is better than any card.

Whether your love interest is a spouse, a partner, a pet, or an unfulfilled wish, I hope your day is filled with love.

Here’s what I wrote last year about Valentine’s Day. :

 

The role reversal in our marriage is that my husband gives awesome, sentimental, thoughtful gifts, and I suck.

Maybe that’s why I’m the one who insists that we don’t exchange presents for Valentine’s Day.

Really, what do I need that I can’t buy for myself? I’m hard to fit in clothes unless I try them on first, I’m particular about jewelry (meaning that I like it cheap mostly, not worthy of Valentine’s gift-giving), I can’t eat chocolate these days, and it’s too cold for garden plants.

But I do insist on cards. I have my pride, after all. Even so, often the day creeps up on me and I’m caught NOT valentine-red-handed.

I KNOW it’s coming. I KNOW Valentine’s Day is February 14. I’m looking at the calendar now and I can see that it’s on Tuesday this year. But I have doctor’s appointments this week, and errands to run on Saturday, and then Sunday will roll around with a nor’easter probably, or at least a snowstorm. Monday I’ll be shoveling out and will forget about it until I look at FaceBook and see all the ads. But then I’ll be busy writing and if I stop, I’ll lose my great idea.

So I may end up in the CVS greeting card aisle at 8 PM the evening of February 13, elbowing my way through a wall of sheepish men lined up three-deep, waiting to pick among the dregs of the red and pink cards. Talk about sheepish – I’ll probably be redder than all the glossy hearts. And there are never any good cards to buy for husbands the night before Valentine’s Day. I mean, I would guess that’s the case.

Worse, because I’m free during the day this year, I’ll really try not to, but I may end up in the card aisle on February 14. I’d have to tell Michael that morning before he leaves for work, “Let’s open cards tonight, Dear, is that OK with you?”

He knows. I can’t fool him anymore. It’s been 34 years. (Please note- I was about 8 when I married.)

Gift or no gift, card or no card, here’s what I do that I hope tells my husband how much I love him all year round:

I thank him often. For washing his bowl that sat in the sink for two days, and mailing my letter, and putting up with me, and killing the Black Widow spider in the bathroom. OK, it was only one of the little yellow spiders, but I’m sure it was about to attack me. And I tell him that he’s a genius for figuring out how to fix our basement stairs without costing us a fortune. And I tell him how glad I am that I married him 34 years ago, when I was about 8.

And for some reason, even though I suck at gifts, he thanks me when I wash his bowl that sat in the sink for two days, and hugs me when I’m sad, and saves me from four-legged and eight-legged and winged critters, and tells me how glad he is to have married me 34 years ago, no matter my age.

When you have words and deeds that are so precious, who needs gifts? But I’d still like to exchange cards for Valentine’s Day, if I can get my hands on a red-hot one before they’re all gone.

[A footnote: I had been providing a link to my original posts on www.thewellnestedlife.com (the blog that I am slowly abandoning), when I update them here. I realized that makes no sense. As long as I keep my stories, there’s no need to have them in two places. Going forward, when I update a blog post here, I’ll delete the original.

Gulp–it’s like losing a little piece of me.]