I was freakin' social all weekend and now I am freakin' tired. This has become almost a norm for me. And I could not be more surprised.
The weekend started with a visit with a friend who'd recently decided to end her engagement. She said, among other things, 'marriage is too confining'. That statement made a lot of sense. Let me 'splain.
No matter how much we might try to tell ourselves otherwise, humans are communal and community is a component of our mental and physical health. Without it we are missing out on some of life's greatest experiences. Without it we develop unhealthy habits and coping strategies. Without it we lose much of our capacity to care for other humans.
Not too long ago I might've have told you I can sit at home, accompanied by a good book, a bad dog and a mediocre cup of tea and love humanity much better than I can when I'm having to deal with them face to face. But that's just not true.
When my marriage ended I asked some very good friends to help me avoid becoming a hermit. My natural tendency leans towards the hermitage.
Nobody should be a hermit. Nobody. Especially not me. I am an introvert and I desperately need time alone, but I need time with other people too. If not, I get real weird.
Like most introverts, I secretly think I'm better than all of you flaming extroverts. Trust me, ALL introverts pity extroverts. We can't help but feel sorry for people who find solitude taxing. And, like most introverts, I excel at online forms of community. I love it. Online communities have enriched my life in ways I can't even begin to describe. It's awesome.
But it's not enough. We have to be face to face, eye to eye with people. For me that's the hard work.
It takes a lot of effort for me to avoid the hermitage. It isn't pretty. I suck at that sort of thing. But I know I need contact with a community of actual people. Some of my efforts have been spectacular. More of them were downright embarrassing. I mean, really, who needs that shit?
I do, obviously.
In my case, marriage got in the way. And that was my fault. It was easy to be on my own and get my social fix within my own four walls. That's not particularly healthy. Generally, the people you've chosen to live with inside your own four walls care about you and are good to you. That was painless and uncomplicated because it's a well worn track and a well known trail. Making time and space for additional relationships requires an effort that stretches me and makes me grow. I have to be willing to bend and change and listen and speak and listen and listen. Sometimes the things I hear are wildly entertaining and fun. Sometimes they are a kick in the pants.
I hope that one way I'm growing and changing is by learning to how keep my expanded community even if I were to get married again. My friend said marriage was 'confining'. Her vocation involves serving people. She devotes almost all her time to that. She discovered that the man she was also trying to be devoted to was not willing to share her with others as much as she needed.
He wasn't wrong. But it wasn't right for her.
I get that.
I am pretty excited about the direction things are going for me at the moment. Being single gives me room to build my community and do interesting things. I could do this and be married. I should do this if I were married. But damn, it is easier to do as a single person.
I am spending time with people one on one. And I'm spending time with people in groups. It is tiring and challenging, but I make time for myself and I have met those challenges. My community - old and new - is stronger than it's ever been. And I am learning a lot from these weird and wonderful people. I still have lots of things to learn. My community needs to evolve and grow. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for ways to make that happen. And I'm working to cultivate the desire to make that happen. So far, so good.
Right now, I'm in pretty much just the right place. How cool is that?