Lessons in Compassion: #2

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As I shared in a previous post, “one of the many things that has been good about this experience with fatigue is that it has offered me several  ‘lessons in compassion,’ or as I prefer to call them, ‘opportunities to grow in compassion’!  🙂  As hard as I have tried over the years, as we all do, to be compassionate, to not judge, to be understanding of others who may do, say, believe, etc., differently than I do, I, of course, have not been able to do that always, in all circumstances, with every person!  I’m quite sure, in fact, that I’m nowhere near as good at it as I’d like to think I am!  Not only has this experience with fatigue proven that to me, but it has, kindly, given me opportunities to improve….  :)”

Lesson #1 had to do with people who have a hard time going to sleep, whether when they first lie down or after waking up in the middle of the night.  Contrary to my previous way of thinking, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will for anyone, if only he/she would try hard enough or do it right….!!

Lesson #2 had to do with people who are natural introverts.  Even though I showed up as being on the introvert side of the continuum when I took the Myers-Briggs personality inventory twenty years ago, I had been living more as an extrovert in recent years–seeming to need to be around people, enjoying being around people, feeling energized after interacting with people…not wanting to stay home for an entire day by myself, wanting to be involved with a variety of organizations outside of the house, wanting our family to participate in community activities…. In fact, when I mentioned to a friend of mine–who has known me for over fifteen years and knows me quite well–that I had “scored” as an introvert on the Myers-Briggs test, her immediate response was, “You must have lied!”  🙂

No one, on the other hand, who has ever known my husband, no matter how well or for how long, would ever accuse him of such “lying” if he told them his results had shown him to be an introvert.  He is totally an introvert!  He doesn’t need much contact with many people; he’s happiest when he’s by himself or with his family.  He doesn’t necessarily enjoy spending time with large groups of people, nor does he enjoy being the center of attention.  He tends to feel worn out after interacting with others, and needs some “down time,” either by himself or just with his family, to feel rejuvenated and re-charged.

Before this experience with fatigue, I didn’t really get all of that.  I was almost always the one who tried to get us doing things–going to church, serving on committees, participating in community activities, socializing with friends, etc.  Often times, I will say, Chris was willing to go along with whatever I might be suggesting at the time…but he was not often eager to do it.  I could see that he didn’t love doing all those things, and I heard the words he said as he tried to explain it to me, and tried, on occasion, to “opt out” of one thing or another…but my need to be doing them, I’m ashamed to admit…perhaps because of my perception that they were good things, the right things, to be doing??…far outweighed my interest in trying to understand his perspective.  Again, I figured that once he got doing them, he’d enjoy himself.  Or he’d see the value of whatever it was, the good-ness of it, and that that would weigh more heavily than his “excuses”…. I told myself that it was for his own good, and the good of our family, that I got us doing these different things…. In all honesty, shameful though it is, I think I attributed his lack of enthusiasm, in part, to a lack of interest…a lack of caring…a degree of selfishness…. No judgment there!!  Yikes….  I didn’t get it.  Nor did I want to.  Because my way was the right way…..

But ah, how things have changed!!  In these past few months, my true(??) introverted nature has been revealed!!  Perhaps I wasn’t lying when I took the Myers-Briggs test all those years ago, but rather, in the years since, had been living in a way that was “good” but that wasn’t true to my deepest self…??  All I know is that since I have become so well-acquainted with fatigue  🙂  , I have begun to enjoy being at home.  My need and/or desire to be around people has diminished significantly, and I am much more content simply being by myself, and with my family, when they are home.  I have felt exhausted at just the thought of socializing with groups of people, let alone actually doing it, and I hardly ever suggest any more that we go and do and participate and socialize!  So draining to think about….!!  In fact, to give a better indication of how dramatic this change has been, Chris actually said several weeks ago that he’d begun to feel somewhat socially isolated!  My husband!  The classic introvert!  Feeling socially isolated!!  Yikes!

So all you introverts out there (especially you, Chris!  🙂  )…I get it!  It can be draining to have to interact with lots of people!  It can require a lot of energy to socialize, and deplete the reserves rather than recharge the battery!  A lack of participation in something does not necessarily equate with a lack of interest or a lack of caring; it may simply stem from a lack of energy, a needing to recharge by being quiet and still instead of active and involved!  Rather than stemming from any sort of selfishness, choosing not to participate in a given activity may be the result of a healthy sense of self-awareness, which is always a good thing!   I understand so much better now…and I hope you can forgive my judgment and arrogance….

Living life as an introvert is no less good than living life as an extrovert.  What makes life Good, from wherever you are on the continuum, is discovering, and then being, who you were created to be, and living the Life you have been given to live…knowing that you are not alone, and that you are loved and accepted exactly as you are.  🙂

Thanks be to God for the gift of Life!  🙂

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