Innie (introvert) or Outie (extrovert)?

I watched my grandchildren playing outside the other day. We were midway through a 2-week stretch of 90-something-degree days, so their mother and I went to Toys R Us and bought 2 little plastic pools (one pink, one blue, of course) because sharing is to be avoided if possible, and a cute turtle sprinkler. We took them to my house and set them up in the backyard, the pools in the shade and the sprinkler in the middle of the yard.

Adaline is 5, an extrovert, and kind of a bossy older sister. Atticus is 3, an introvert, and a sweetie who loves his sister, but is slightly afraid of her, I think. They played together for a while, then Atticus wanted to play in his pool, alone. Adaline wanted him to play with her. This wasn’t going to end well.

She provoked him until he reacted. By that time, the pools were full of twigs and dirt that had stuck to their wet feet when they ran around the yard, so I suggested a bath and we went inside. Afterward, Atticus went in the living room and played with blocks and Adaline settled in on the den couch to talk with her mom and me.

I identify with Atticus. I’ve written before about being an introvert. I refill my spirit in solitude. I like to spend time with friends, one on one. Crowds overwhelm me. One of my daughters is an extrovert, as is her husband. Their spirits are refilled with others. They invite neighbors over for dinner and they have parties for no reason except to be with friends.

My problem, sometimes, is distinguishing between solitude (healthy) and isolation (not-so-healthy).

From a blog post by Carey Niewhof:

Solitude is good.  It recharges the soul.  It offers time for reflection, for prayer.  And even when you’re alone, if you’re experiencing solitude, you are still connected. Solitude connects you to God, to yourself, and prepares you to be connected to others.

Isolation, on the other hand, is never replenishing.  It can feel like solitude in the sense that you are alone, but isolation doesn’t connect you to anyone.  Isolation does what the word suggests – it cuts you off, from God, from others, and sometimes even from yourself.

I’ve been isolating for the last month or so. My depression has flared up due to some ongoing medical issues. I’ve had no energy and no desire to do much of anything. I put away a basket of clean clothes yesterday that sat in my bedroom for days. And that was an accomplishment. I read a lot and I watch episodes of The Good Wife from the beginning on Hulu. I’m up to where Will got shot. Depression zaps my brain of creativity and imagination. I can’t write.

I’m trying this week to push through the inertia. I met with my doctor and talked about my anti-depressant. I have a therapy appointment next week. I did some volunteer work this week. And I’m having dinner with a friend this evening.

And I finally am writing again.  While I write, I don’t feel isolated. I am connected to all of you in some spiritual way that is healing. My hope is that by continuing to share my ups and downs, I can help someone else feel less alone and isolated.

Published in: on June 26, 2015 at 4:44 pm  Comments (12)  
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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Writing is an isolated activity Robin, as you know, But I think we do our best work as writers when we stay connected with the world around us. It feeds the muse. Keep well and stay connected…we’re out here pulling for you. Love the names of your grandchildren. I’ll have to remember them for a future story.

    • I love their names, too! And thanks for your encouragement. I love your blog!

  2. Robin, what a beautiful mixture of present, past, future. You moved me. Vivid images of your grandchildren brought smiles. Talk of introversion/extroversion brought memories and recognition, and stirred my curiosity again because I believe I am in transition with that. And apt description of the sluggishness of depression brought empathy. Many more thoughts and feelings as well.
    You are a good writer. Thank you for sharing. 🙏🏻 Namaste

  3. I am a mixed bag. I identify with both extrovert and introvert. And I so understand the difference in isolation and solitude. The challenge is that knowing the difference when I am in the middle of isolating is difficult. Thanks for sharing and reminding me the difference.

    • Maybe one day we will notice quicker. Progress not perfection, right?

  4. Robin, I hope you shake off the depression. That seems to me to be something beyond isolation. That is having a visit from an unwelcome guest who gets too darned comfortable to leave.

    Feel better.

    • This is the best description of depression I’ve seen! Thanks for your support.

  5. Robin, how well you capture what depression feels like – the chronic inertia that we fight against that perpetuates depression – and the importance of doing even small things to move us forward. You are an inspiration because you are identifying that fine line between the the aloneness that introverts need and the that isolation that sucks us further into the vortex of depression. I always look forward to your posts – thanks for writing! (and your grandchildren sound like real sweeties!)

    • Thank you for your supportive comments. it helps to know I’m not alone in my depression.

  6. In this, my third act, I allow myself to be the introvert I have always been. I spent over half a century of trying on every extrovert size I could buy. I say buy because the cost was high, my health, but even at that, I would not change of minute of what was.

    Solitude fills me with the wonder of being alive. Writing was the one connection I had with myself; now, it is the connection I have with people I would not otherwise know. As bloggers, we replenish one another for no matter the subject of the post, it is a connection, sometimes a sliver of light and others, a full rainbow.

    No matter the day, I know I can come here to read and re-read. Sometimes, I even think of something to say in return.

    Thank you, Robin.

    • I love when you comment?, Karen. Be well, my friend.

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