Why are some people private?

I finally sat down today with my book editor’s notes on section one of my memoir manuscript that covers the years leading up to my son’s diagnosis with a brain tumor. My editor told me it would need a lot of work, and it does.

Often in her notes, my editor questioned why I kept so many of my feelings inside me, how I could have kept my fear and despair and frustration private. She wondered why I reacted or didn’t react the way I did. “The reader will want to know,” she said.

I’m beginning to understand just how much readers will want to know, and I’m getting nervous. I’m nervous because I instinctively keep many of my deepest thoughts private, because the thought of sharing on a deeper level makes my heart pound. And because I don’t know the answer.

I don’t know me very well.

Why am I so private?

Part of it is being an introvert. Introverts generally guard their privacy.

I’ve known for many years I was an introvert, and I dabbled in trying to understand more deeply what this meant. But when my book editor asked her probing questions on behalf of future readers, I didn’t understand how much my need for solitude went hand-in-hand with my need for privacy.

If you want to get deep in the introvert weeds, in Myers-Briggs personality theory parlance, I’m an INFJ. Read here for more detail, about this test to help individuals understand the strengths and weaknesses of their unique personalities.

But for a quick understanding of the initials:

I for Introvert (as opposed to extrovert).

N for iNtuitive (as opposed to sensory).

F for Feeling (as opposed to thinking).

J for Judging (as opposed to perceiving).

INFJs like me may find it difficult to open up and be vulnerable about our struggles.

I know it’s more complicated than just being an introvert. It has to do with being a people-pleaser, and my upbringing, relationships, and self-doubt. I have some digging to do. I want to know, and you, as my reader, will want to know.

So I’m going on a limb to say I promise I will figure this out, and I will tell you, here, as the pages of my blog unfold, and in my someday memoir you can read.

I don’t know myself as well as I’d like today, or 31 years ago when I was a new mom.

But I’ll figure it out, and I hope you’ll weather the storm with me.

Author

  • An emerging writer in upstate, NY, Karen DeBonis tells her story on her website, in publications like the NY Times, (a Tiny Love Story), in her “Become Emboldened” projects, and elsewhere. "Growth: A Mother, Her Son, and the Brain Tumor They Survived" is Karen’s transformational memoir about the clash between her naive expectations of motherhood and her son's needs, which destroys her confidence and threatened her stability (Available for representation.)

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  1. Sheba Olenik on April 7, 2018 at 9:52 PM

    Of course, I’ll be here for you.
    Anytime.
    Don’t fret.
    I believe most people really don’t know themselves either.
    Life pushes and pulls us in directions we never thought we’d go.
    And then there are years of just going through the motions.
    Suddenly we wake up and wonder how did I get here? What do I really want?
    Where a am I going?
    We are all on a life journey or quest.

    Perhaps this is what happens when you get older, and empty nested.

    • Karen DeBonis on April 8, 2018 at 11:09 AM

      Sheba, that’s so beautiful. You never told me you were a writer, too! I think you’re right–not only am I questioning because of what I’m writing, but because I have the time now that the boys are gone and I’m not working (for pay. outside the house. lol). I am so glad to have you with me on this journey. Thank you!!

  2. Robyn Ringler on April 7, 2018 at 10:58 PM

    Be kind to yourself. Love the things you did right. Ask yourself why you did those things, too. When you advocated for your son, why did you do so? You know why–love, determination, intelligence, and a never-ending instinct that your son was in trouble. Do a few free writes–short ones. And leave the rest of the questions and go back to them when you are ready, not right now. When we delve into the hard stuff, it is often a good idea to be going to therapy–even if just for a few meetings. No need to commit to therapy for a year, just a couple of meetings, which is less overwhelming to the schedule. Above all, love yourself. If you don’t know why you did certain things, it doesn’t matter. You are a beautiful, loving, talented human being. XXOO

    • Karen DeBonis on April 8, 2018 at 11:22 AM

      Thank you, my wonderful, talented editor! I can’t imagine going through this with some stranger! And you’re right–a few therapy sessions I can handle. I tend to make things into such a big deal. Well, there’s more free write fodder for me! Thanks so much for your support.

  3. aboymom on April 8, 2018 at 12:09 AM

    Be kind to yourself. I think there is so much we learn about ourselves in the early years of motherhood, what to do, what not to do, when to worry and advocate and when to step back. And then there’s the guilt when we don’t worry enough, or too much, etc. motherhood rips you open and leaves you vulnerable because your heart is walking around outside your body. I’ve stopped seeking balance because it’s too much pressure, and it isn’t going to come to me in the near future. Therapy can be good, if you have the time to invest, it can also open up Pandora’s box. I’m sure you’ll figure it out!

  4. Karen DeBonis on April 8, 2018 at 11:30 AM

    You’re still in the thick of things, and you’re probably right that balance won’t come to you for awhile. I remember those exhausting days of working motherhood. I had hoped by this time in my life, more of my shit would be resolved, but the writing has indeed opened Pandora’s Box. Hmm. Maybe if I let everything out for good, it will be empty and I can shut the lid on that sucker for good! Thanks for your support 🙂

  5. Mary Beth on April 8, 2018 at 8:53 PM

    Although it comes from a tough place, your writing is compelling. I certainly want to read more…when you get there of course. Certainly you must know about yourself that your tenacity and love allowed Matt to become the exceptionally insightful, sensitive and interesting man that he is. xxx

  6. Karen DeBonis on April 8, 2018 at 9:32 PM

    That’s beautiful, Mary Beth! Thank you for your support. Yes, I’ll own what you’ve said. My love for Matt and refusal to give up have given my story a happy, uplifting ending. Matt is an amazing young man who inspires me always.

  7. RoseMary Griffith on April 9, 2018 at 4:48 PM

    I think by default writers keep the hurts inside, but it’s our job to open up and pour them out onto the paper. It’s so hard. On my blog, my humor and my grief blogs–opposite ends of our emotions–do equally as well. How odd is that and yet doesn’t it sum up how our emotions work?
    Hang in there, Karen.

    • Karen DeBonis on April 25, 2018 at 9:29 AM

      This was so beautiful, Rose Mary, and there your comment sat in my spam bucket, when I really could have used the support. Well, I found it today, and it will buoy me through another tough day of writing. Thank YOU for hanging in there with me!

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