So, I fell off the world again….

Glendi knows me so well! For my birthday on Wednesday, she gave me a quite unexpected gift: a 3-day trip to be alone with my thoughts in Vancouver, BC. Here I am, beginning the 3rd day, and it’s no coincidence that I’m coming back to my blog–and clearing out the copious amounts of spam comments–during this special time alone. Something still isn’t quite working in my daily life.

Here I was in December and January, reading, writing, eating with people, balancing my workload and my social anxiety all quite well. Then, pretty much exactly when Glendi and the baby came home from Guatemala, the old patterns crept in. It’s not them. It’s me and my introversion.

Introversion is not shyness. It’s a shorthand way of talking about where our energy comes from. My energy comes from having ample time alone–first to decompress from exhaustion and any person struggles, then to ease into more creative and inspired work. I like being around people, and I love my time with Glendi and Amanecer. But social interaction, even with them, drains me. When we are all in the house, I don’t know where to find my energy. I only know how to energize myself when I have hours and hours laid out before me. When I have to find my alone time in scraps of 30 or 45 minutes here or there, I get cranky and then just fill that time with electronic mind-mushing. In this way, I have frittered away 3 months since last writing. I’ve read almost nothing, I’ve talked with very few people beyond my family and co-workers, and I haven’t been to a single political event.

Don’t get all mopey and down on yourself. Just acknowledge it, take responsibility, and move forward.

I just reread my Backwards Planning for the Revolution. Yes, I am so happy that at least I wrote myself a really practical guide for how to get out of the funk and try again. The goals and ideas still make sense to me. What I wrote still speaks to where I want to be. But I need to readjust to 3 realities:

1) I need to more realistically understand a father’s time limitations. I will not have more than a few 1+ hour stretches of free time. Free time is there; hours and hours of it. But it’s all chopped and chunked up into 10-20 minute moments. I grumpily cast this off as lost time and waste it. I need to become a scavenger and salvager. I want to try positively embracing and playing with these fragments of alone time.

2) I need to own up to my exhaustion. When I am teaching, I feel energized. When I get home, I am drained. I’m only sleeping 6-7 hours a night, so I’m physically tired also. It’s silly to have high creative expectations of myself in the weekday afternoons when I’ve spent so much creative energy trying to teach well. As I get more practiced at teaching, this might change, but for now it’s just plain true that I don’t have that much mind or social power left after work. Do I just designate my weeknights as recuperation time, then? Not quite. I just need to prioritize work that will also be restful–low stakes social stuff, lighter reading, lighter writing.

3) My social anxiety is more debilitating than I want to admit. Intellectually, I can recognize and rationalize around it, but the truth of my daily life is that I live in a constant white noise of anxiety about email, mail, and phone messages. It takes me days to find the courage to go through my email and phone messages, even just to delete unwanted stuff. The longer I wait, the worse it is. I feel like I’m currently standing underneath a tidal wave of correspondence that I owe to so many people…but then I think that they all must be so disappointed in me…so I can’t contact them…so maybe another day…and so it goes.

See, these three realities work in wicked concert together. Because it takes so much strength and energy to face my social correspondence, I never feel like I can do it with just a 10 minute fragment of time. So I spend those 10-20 minutes trying to find escapes to avoid thinking about the mounting social anxiety. I play and consume. This is my cycle. This is how I self-medicate and what I’m self-medicating for.

If I’m going to accomplish my goals, healing from my anxiety and pain need to be priorities for me. I need friends again. If not, then I need a therapist.

Currently Reading:

-Dispersing Power by Raul Zibechi