One thing I’ve learned living in a small space is that I am, forever and always, an introvert. I have always known this but at no time in my life has it been more painfully clear than it is living in a small space with three other people.
Not too long ago a friend and I were discussing how we’d tested on a personality test we all had to take for work.
“Well, I always test introverted on those things,” I said.
“Really?” he said cocking his head to one side in disbelief. “You?”
“Oh yeah,” I said.
I like to say I’m a social introvert. I like people, I even like being around them and I really like knowing what’s going on with them but it when it comes down to the question of how do I recharge, the answer is without a doubt BY MYSELF. Two beautiful little words. One beautiful concept that I have a really hard time realizing these days.
I am a mom. Let’s start there. I live with three other people. There’s that. I live in a tiny house that is one big open room with three other people. The only interior door in the place is the one to the bathroom and, yes, I do hide out in there sometimes. I sit in the shower, water running, when I don’t need to bathe. I sit on the toilet lid to just escape. Inevitably, this act invites curiosity from my two children. They notice I’m gone and immediately come knocking on the door. Lucille took Sparky (Eliza’s favorite stuffed horse), Eliza won’t give Lucille a turn to flip on the couch. It never ends. The bathroom door is thin and no match for the whining of two children so I come out defeated just in time to head off a fight that is suddenly dissolved the minute I walk out. They don’t need me really, they just want me.
At work I share an office and I thank God daily for my officemate. She understands that deep conversations need to wait until after 10:00 a.m. and is always comfortable with my closing the door in an attempt to shut out the constant clatter and activity right outside our office. Really, if it weren’t for her I’d probably lose my mind because our office seems, just by proximity, to be a revolving door. People walk in all the time unannounced and without knocking. Sometimes, they sit, stay a while and talk the entire time. It’s almost more than my introverted soul can handle.
There is no time of the day or night when I am alone. And lately I have realized that this is a real fucking problem. I have been having migraines, my shoulders are hard as a brick (that’s a direct quote from the acupuncturist I saw last week) and I feel as though someone is driving an ice pick under my right shoulder.
“I think I might be stressed out,” I said to the acupuncturist, a man of few words.
“You think?” he said as he dug a thin needle into my rock solid shoulder.
Why is it that we realize these things only after they have begun to affect our health, our outlook?
So, I took the day off. I spent the day in the studio writing. I curled up on the couch and watched the clouds float by. I wore my quitters all day. I took some deep breaths. It felt so good that I might do it again tomorrow. And the next day until I can figure out how to find this space all the days after that.