Guys, I’ve been…

Guys, I've been neglecting this journal for months now. I know there are postings, and sometimes fairly frequent ones, but they've mostly been very short and informative (or asking for information). Not so much chit-chat, or pondering of ideas large or small. And I guess I just want to let y'all know that I know it's so, and also that it's part of a larger picture, that I've been neglecting all of my friends just as much as I've been neglecting this journal.

That's not strictly true. I'm closer to Kevin than ever, and I think after four years in Chicago, I've finally found a group of folks who I can socialize with on a regular basis. That's mostly come about as a result of Kriti planning, as our monthly meetings turned into weekly ones in the final run-up to the festival, and we ate and talked and worried and planned together. They're not close friends yet, not like the friends I've had forever; they don't hear so much yet about my deeper worries. But in the last month post-festival as I recovered, I've had local people to chat with, and see movies with, and eat meals with, and they have the potential to become close friends with time. That's really nice; after four years back in Chicago without making so many friends, I was starting to get a little worried.

But I have surely neglected my long-distance friends, both casual and serious, in the last few months. For two different reasons, oddly enough.

The casual friends (and my poor abused journal readers) have been neglected for sheer lack of time, for several months of panic-stricken work, followed by a month of exhausted collapse. I am only now starting to come to myself again, and I just didn't have the time for unfocused chatting. Sorry about that, but I'm afraid it was inevitable, and somewhat to be expected. Such silences will undoubtedly happen again, whenever I get busy.

More interesting to me is something that I didn't expect. Which is that I didn't talk to my more serious friends because I didn't have the emotional energy. In the face of immense emotional strain, I turned into an introvert -- a serious introvert. Me! I was just barely managing to hold myself together enough (if we can call it 'holding together' despite almost daily bursting into tears) to manage all my responsibilities, to not drop any major balls. And for the first time in my life, it felt like talking seriously to other people about my problems wasn't going to help -- it would just use up emotional energy that I didn't have to spare. Weird.

So I shut down, went into a strange sort of crisis-coping mode that I didn't even know I had in me. Just trying to get from one task to another without thinking too much. And it worked, but in the process, I went completely silent to my oldest and dearest friends. I think they'll mostly forgive me, and I'm writing this here not so much for them, but simply to document this strange period in my life. I don't like being an introvert. It's not nearly as much fun for me as extroversion is. I don't like feeling like I don't have time to read a book or cook dinner or watch a tv show. And I hate feeling like I don't have the emotional energy to have a simple conversation with an old friend.

So now we have learned the lesson -- the Mary Anne does indeed have limits. She can't actually do everything, or at least not all at once. At least now I may have a warning system in place -- when I start not wanting to talk to my friends, it's time to cut back on work, severely. Good to know.

6 thoughts on “Guys, I’ve been…”

  1. MA, I know exactly what you mean about shutting down. I went through a period just like that recently where I couldn’t talk to many of my closest and dearest friends because the cost was just too great. The only thing I could do was try to stay focused and survive each day. Unfortunately, I think I did lose one friend because of this, but the rest have been more than understanding. It feels really good to reconnect.

  2. Am a long time reader of your journal and just wanted to say that I have gone through exactly the same thing in my life. The friends that understand will stay and the ones that don’t will leave….all a part of growing up I suppose. I’ve also learnt some lessons about overcommitting and about keeping emotionally demanding people at bay (both family and friends). So I think its normal for you to feel the way you do. I think people (and the journal readers here) instinctively understand when you say you are caught up and as for those who don’t, well too bad they don’t — you still have to do what you need to, to keep your sanity and life going.

    Best wishes,

    HM

  3. Dear, Dear King Mary Anne

    I’ve been reading your journal long enough that I think of you as “just recently” moving back to Chicago, and I promise you that you have handled more things, better than I would ever want to attempt.

    Love ya, mean it.

    Jim

  4. At the risk of being repetitive, have you thought about the winter blues lately? A lot of what you’re describing sounds like depression – exacerbated by stress, surely, but…

    Here’s a link that has a good bit of info:

    http://216.239.51.104/search?q=cache:32gg_u7khcMJ:www.medscape.com/viewprogram/4316_pnt+seasonal+affective+disorder+staircase&hl=en

    I tried to copy in the table that I find really useful, which looks like a descending and ascending staircase, the second-lowest-rung of which is “withdrawal from family/ friends”. And the lowest of which is “depression/ anxiety/ irritability”.

    Your post was interesting to me at first because I’m reasonably introverted and yet I experience stress in the same ways. So you can’t really describe it as “becoming introverted”.

  5. Thanks for the support, everyone, and the advice, Mr. A. I think it’s not the winter blues, because when I manage not to think about the specific things that are stressing me, I’m my normal happy self, regardless of how sunny or grey the day is. All my stress feels like it’s linked to very concrete specifics.

    I’ve seen a fair bit of depression in other folks close to me; this really doesn’t seem like the same experience, or even close to it. I could be wrong about that, but that’s my sense of things at the moment.

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