holiday tradition: introvert edition

Christmas & New Year’s at Chez Herkes are pretty simple: our house is an Introvert Haven on both the Eves and the Days.

How does that work? Well. Spouseman works on jigsaw puzzles or Legos or plays video games, I watch movies, play with the train set, put up ornaments (yes, I often wait until Christmas Eve to do the tree)  and putter around the kitchen when I’m not curled up on one of the bean bags with a new book to read or puttering with the book I’m writing at my desk.

AND we’re open to friends dropping by any time after 7PM on the Eves and after 1 PM on the Days.  (Always wise to inquire if we’re on a walk through the neighborhood to admire holiday lights or get fresh air, but other than those excursions, we’re IN.)

Nothing is going on, but company is welcome. That’s it.

There are non-traditional holiday movies on the television in one room all day & night (for several years we did a Bad Movie double feature on NYE, but it got awfully organized and was causing me unfun panic and so it was retired in favor of more Introverting In Company like we already did on Christmas.)

ANYway. There’s usually quiet music in the non-television room, and there are comfy chairs available for sitting with snacks and beverages pretty much everywhere because that’s how I roll. And of course there are foods and beverages for snacking. Because for me holidays mean food, and food is yummy.

Zero planned activities, zero zero formal socializing. Conversation and catching up are cool, just not…required. Quiet parallel play like reading, crafting, surfing the internet via phone or tablet, or watching television–that’s as close as things get to a theme.

The new house give us SO MUCH MOAR SPACE to stretch out! I can’t wait to holiday here.

Friends whose holiday travels bring them past our road less traveled on their way over the river and through the woods are welcome to drop by for a mug of cider (or a beer or wine or a cuppa hot tea) Settle in for awhile or just decompress for a the length of a nosh and a sip. Some years we have several drop-ins, many years it’s just Spouseman & me, but always, it’s simple, and nerdy.  (see below)

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Happy Hibernation season, everyone!

Recharging the brain batteries

Got home last night LATE after meeting tons of new readers at the incredibly awesome first-ever Michigan Comic Con. I had a blast.

Gratitude shout-outs to Alexi & Erika at Bard’s Tower for inviting me, and additional HUGE thanks to the generous and talented Jody Lynn Nye, who offered me a ride and who always has been everything any writer could ask for in a professional mentor.

And now I am Absolutely Worn Out.

I’m slowly coming to terms with the need to give myself recovery time & space after road trips. The post-exhilaration crash is inevitable. Every time a con ends, I think, “Hey, cool, I’m not so exhausted this time. I’m fine! Yay, growth!”  Then I get home a few hours later with a sore throat, achy eyes, and a bad case of twitchy nerves…

Adrenaline lies, I tell ya. And the rebound is a major PITA. Every single damned time, it happens. After two years of cons, I finally have the self-care down to a single-day recharge. (barring emergencies, crises, or other disruptions.) Today’s edition so far:

  • a round of proper tea, caffeinated and strong. (my favorite loose leaf blend steeped sufficiently in a TEAPOT, Ah, bliss. )
  • a satisfying workaday breakfast (fruit & greek yogurt w/ crunchies & honey)
  • much lounging about the house, spoiling the cat and catching up on reading.
  • a bout of cathartic weed-yanking that delivered immediately gratifying results.
  • harvesting a batch of tomatoes & basil to go w/some aged gouda my wonderful Spouseman picked up for me as a welcome-home gift. Look at this deliciousness:

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So. Good.

Being able to take a recovery day is no small blessing, and I appreciate how lucky I am to be in a position where I can do so. With no plans for the rainy afternoon–NONE–I can physically feel energy returning as the emotional surf settles.

I love travel, but returning to the nest is the best. Just ask the cat. He has opinions.img_3888.jpg

More blog…next week, probably? Or after Dragon Con, which is only 10 days away.

<gulp>

ONLY TEN DAYS ‘TIL DRAGON CON!

What I don’t talk about.

I don’t talk much about hurting myself by “walking too fast” or “picking up a pencil the wrong way”  because that’s my baseline, just as it’s my normal for unstructured social interaction to be a risky gamble. I might pay for attending a party  with hours to days of shaky mental exhaustion or emotional swan dives, I might sprain my wrists stirring a pot of soup, but there’s nothing unusual about either event. I don’t think twice about them. I don’t talk much about breathing or digesting either. Such things are not noteworthy.

The work I put into life  doesn’t feel remarkable either.  I like being active. I like people. I like to push myself. Those traits plus a damfine big box of coping mechanisms obscure how unusual my routines are. Lots of people are introverted, so  I don’t dwell on the enjoyments I ration because I don’t have emotional resilience to spare. Athletes equip themselves to avoid injuries, and daily life is a contact sport for me, so what’s the difference? Exercise is healthy. No big deal that I must do strength exercises and walk minimum 3 miles daily or pay for the deficit in cramps and impinged nerves.

So there are positive reasons I don’t talk about my assorted issues. I seriously don’t notice them unless someone compares my life to norms. (One particularly memorable adolescent conversation involved my disbelief in days without pain. “Like, not any pain?” I asked, wondering if I was being pranked.)  The last reason I keep this stuff to myself isn’t so good. Shame and fear of judgment.  

I work hard to walk in the wide world of normal. That shouldn’t mean forfeiting my right to say I’m only faking normal, but somehow it does. I can look like a duck and quack like one, so I am left feeling like a cheater for not being duckish. I am functional, more or less, as long as I do certain things.  So if I’m not better I’m not working hard enough. right? It’s my own fault. If I had a better attitude and put in more effort, I would be fine.

I know that’s an insidious lie, but it’s the kind that slips past defenses and eats away confidence like acid on a wooden building foundation. And here’s the kicker: buying into the lie leads to guilt. Wimp. Whiner. Quit-exaggerating-you-lying-attention-whore is the internal whisper I hear when I admit to injury or weakness. Always.

It would help if I had an official seal of medical diagnosis, but I don’t. I have plenty of treatment documentation, but there’s a chasm between fitting a condition profile and the legitimizing stamp of a doctor’s note. I have never leaped that gap. My physical condition was diagnosed off-hand by a college health clinic resident in the era before electronic records, and the mental stuff? Well. Let’s just say the cause & effect patterns are obvious but have never been severe enough to make me seek treatment.

Why not? The affirmation would be nice, I admit.  It’s my lazy streak at work. The  official process for pinning causes to intermittent symptoms is frustrating and exhausting even with supportive doctors. And support is mighty hard to find.  So that’s two strikes against putting myself through the wringer. The third strike? There are no cures for what ails me. There are specific management therapies and behaviors, but I already employ them all. Medication? The very idea of testing brands and dosages is too daunting to contemplate. Things will have to get much worse before I’m willing to play that horrible  whack-a-mole game.

Someday I’ll be forced to it. Right now I manage well enough, but my body ages and my brain will always find ways to surprise me. (First time I faced a social situation unarmored by a job title? Oh, hey, that’s what a panic attack feels like! Fun times! Not.)

As it stands now,  with no pill bottles or certification to wield, I never truly believe anyone else believes me when I claim injury or weakness.  Why should they believe in the rotted core when the disguise is effective? Hell, I have trouble accepting it, and I live it.

The best I can do is lay out information up-front, then let it drop. Full disclosure doesn’t stamp out my internal critic, but it does cut down on vocal judgments like, “It must be so nice to be able to eat anything you want and stay skinny,” “Just go to the party for a little while, what can it hurt?” or “But you look perfectly fine.”  (That’s my favorite: when people tell me to my face that I’m not unhealthy enough to satisfy them.)

I know I’m being silently judged even when people don’t say thoughtless, vicious things. But when I lay the groundwork early I don’t have to hear it as often.

So when you notice I sprained my finger, and I say I did it tying my shoe? When I’m incapacitated by a headache before a big to-do? Go ahead and laugh. I do.  Sympathy is okay too. But please don’t say it’s unbelievable.

Because it’s my reality. I just don’t talk much about it.

This article by someone with much worse problems than mine expresses all these feels better than I ever could.  I’ll wrap with that.