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I have decided to write a blog series about introverts, introversion, and help for those in introvert/extrovert relationships. I’ve touched on the issue many times, but my post “Honest Confessions of an Introverted Wife” – published nearly three years ago – continues to receive a high amount of daily traffic and frequent comments. This fact somewhat makes me cringe. It definitely was not my best piece of writing. It was meant to be a vent more than a how-to. I used a lot of hyperbole, over-exaggeration, drama, and don’t feel I painted a 100% accurate picture of my introvert-extrovert marriage. The writing I’ve done since then and the writing I have planned is my attempt to both clarify and explain as well as share helpful information with my readers.
As both a disclaimer and a caveat, I feel it necessary to share a little background with those who may be visiting this site for the first time. Those who have been long-time followers may not need this.
I’ve struggled with the best way to share this information tactfully and respectfully, yet honestly and transparently. The short version being that my family is kind of a hot mess. While we’ve done a lot to improve our hot-mess-ness over the last few years, there are some aspects of our highly complex family dynamic that I am beginning to realize may not ever be “fixed.” (This is a whole other blog post, which I will get to eventually.)
My husband is a combat veteran with a severe generalized anxiety disorder. He was away from our family for two years while serving overseas in Afghanistan. It’s also possible that he may have some undiagnosed preexisting mental health challenges that may reach back as far as his childhood. We are still trying to unravel all of this. The military gave him the structure he needed to cope with them, but then what he faced in the Army (both due to combat environment as well as abuse within the chain of command) left him considerably more “broken” than he was when he went in.
Our older son – who is now nearly 8 – is both highly extroverted and has his own set of diagnoses: ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, sensory processing problems, and possibly autism. His needs are a DAILY challenge that falls hard on our shoulders and strains both our individual mental health and our marriage. He drains us both (in highly different ways) and we need “filled up” in highly different ways.
My husband and I are polar opposites: in our personalities, in our introversion/extroversion scale, in our communication styles, in our love languages, and in our needs.
So while there are many positive comments on my original introvert/extrovert vent, there are also many comments of concerns about our mental and emotional health. While these concerns may have their merit and validity, it’s not something of which we are completely unaware. At least one member of our family has been in some sort of therapy or counseling from 2009 on. Between the four of us, we’ve seen a plethora of therapists, counselors, social workers, psychologists, and more who have all poured into us in one way or another.
We’ve come a long way. We still have a long way to go. Or maybe we don’t. Maybe our little bit of crazy is here to stay and we just have to accept it. I’m not entirely sure.
Which is why we have a decal like this in our dining room:
What I have learned (the hard way) is that it’s not my responsibility to fix it all. Regardless of the needs, the diagnoses, the things that could or might help, the things we should try, and on and on – sometimes we also just need to be a family. I’ve learned to have my boundaries: to control what I can and let go of what I can’t. I’ve learned that I have to set down the burdens and play the cards we’ve been dealt.
In the midst of all of that, I have to take care of myself and do what I can with what I have. That’s what this series of posts will be about. This page will serve as a landing page for all the content for this series.
While I hope this series will be helpful for introverts in any life stage, I’m coming to this as a wife, mom, and special needs parent who also struggles with chronic fatigue. So it may be helpful for tired moms as well as introverts!
Thanks for reading,
Life Hacks for Introverts: Survival Skills for When You Just Need a Break
Previously written content:
#whitespace: one word for 2014: my year-long journey into self-care, margin, doing less, decluttering, underachieving, and resting
Life hacks for introverts: how to structure your day, week, and year
The impacts of the introvert/extrovert gap on physical intimacy
More life hacks for introverts
…and possibly more…