Journal 2005. I am an introvert who knows I need people, but some people emit negative energy like a giant, pulsating sore thumb, throbbing like a plucked low bass guitar string.
I remember a former classmate whose aura left little barbs, fingers of electric shock that kept poking and jabbing me.
When I asked for God’s help, He gave me an enveloping coat of Teflon—not to keep the person out, but so I could get close to the person without getting zapped. The droning noise got mingled with a heavenly symphony of praise, and together we looked and listened for other sounds around us. I guess I needed another focus other than myself.
Following my parents’ example, I keep a guestbook log*. Theirs began in 1953, and mine in 1983. Any overnight stay or feet under the table warrants an entry. Hattie Miller, a brave single missionary who lived 60 miles away at the nearest mission station to ours, signed theirs the most often. It was she who bought us our book and signed it first. Today that book is held together with packing tape.
The arrival of company is an exciting event, but there’s a certain relief when they leave. We just happily said goodbye to a couple who stayed a week longer than they had originally planned (due to unforeseen circumstances). Other people’s energy tends to drain me, so despite their statement that they didn’t expect me to entertain them, why did I feel compelled to do so?
My mind goes back to visiting Sunday school classes in various churches on furlough in the U.S. I was forced into the limelight. I had to say something intelligent. I was the entertainment! The church members clutched the end of an electrical cord, looking for a place to plug it in. I was a receptacle and bingo—they had electric juice, I was being drained, and the lights were going dim! I didn’t want to be used. Plug yourself into someone else’s outlet please! But putting a cap over my outlet felt selfish and rude, so I kept the cap off.
In a listening prayer session, Jesus said to me: “Turn the tables on them. Ask them questions instead.” Deceit is the opposite of honesty. With company, I can say, “Do you mind if I take a power nap?” Of course they don’t mind. They understand. Maybe they’d like some alone time too!
A 2022 Update: Someone recently wondered how many times she had visited us, and I was able to pull out my guestbook and search for her name. As I scanned through the pages, I noted how many of our guests have passed on to glory. But I was most struck with the passage of time when I read my middle daughter’s entry: Jackson is learning to crawl. How did 12 years gallop by so fast!
After working through my emotions, I’ve discovered I’m far more tolerant now of being with people for extended periods of time. I’m still an introvert, but I rely more now on a greater Power Source to maintain inner peace.
*On the flyleaf of my parents’ book, Dad penned the following:
When the great Guest Book in the house above, Lies spread before us in the Home of love, One entry only waits the writer’s name: No record of departure, only “Came.”
From my 2010 Journal. I don’t like being sick. Period. Other than hypochondriacs, I guess nobody does. It’s debilitating, annoying, and restricting. I don’t get sick very often, but when I do, I want the world to know about it. On the other hand, I like to be left alone to my misery, not hovered and fussed over. But I do like for people to know that I hurt and where. Somehow it helps to verbalize it. Why is that I wonder?
Some people are very private about their health (we were all shocked to hear of a friend’s death recently because she had told no one about her cancer); others blab every detail whether you want to hear about it not. What makes the difference? Wounding? (They crave the attention and sympathy to prove their worth.) Temperament? (Melancholics are more prone to complain, I suspect, than Sanguines.) Vows? (I have a friend who grew up with a mom who constantly verbalized her aches and pains, and she determined to do the opposite. This friend is a most gracious and pleasant person to be around in spite of her debilitating disease and chronic pain.)
Saying the words aloud is like putting around me cardboard shields of protection. People can still get into my space if needed, but it gives me more privacy or space from intrusion. I suspect this is an introvert thing. I seek to protect my energy, whereas a Sanguine craves the attention because people energize them.
So . . . if I don’t say the words and tell people how I’m feeling, they don’t know to give me space. And my dear, extrovert husband—all he wants to do is pay even more attention to me when I’m miserable—because, of course, that’s what he wants when he’s ill!
How do you respond when you’re sick or in pain and why?