Monday, February 21, 2011

Extroverts vs. Introverts

The difference between extroverts and introverts keeps coming up for me. Most people think that extroverts are people who are outgoing, while introverts are people who are shy. That's not it. Extroverts are people who are energized by being around other people; introverts are people who are energized by being alone.

I am an introvert. People don't think I'm an introvert because I like being around other people and I am not shy. Actually I am quite talkative. But being around people depletes me. Last week turned out to be a very people-intensive week. I hosted a two-day workshop at my house, so there were five women there for most of the day. Then Monday was Valentine's Day and I wound up being out the whole day and going to a jazz club at night. On Tuesday I spent the whole day in the city, visiting with friends whom I hadn't seen for a while. It was all fun and I enjoyed myself. But by Tuesday evening I was ready to pass out. I got to bed early and spent the next day home alone to recover.

I need to be alone about 70% of the time to feel good. Talking on the phone does not count as alone time. But working on my computer does, or reading a book, or doing the laundry, or even writing emails. I now realize that I didn't have chronic fatigue syndrome all the years that I went into the office every day. I just couldn't handle being around people five days a week.

Of course extroverts have no such problem. They are energized by being around people. A friend who is an extrovert told me that she never needed to be alone. I gulped. It must be hard for an introvert to have an extrovert partner. The introvert needs some space or he will die. That's how it feels. All the life force will be gone. The extrovert will most likely take this request personally, thinking that the introvert doesn't love her because he needs time alone.

Our society is an extroverted society and I heard that 75% of the people are extroverts. But the 25% of us who get depleted being around people need to acknowledge that we need alone time and give ourselves the time we need. So what if we're not as much fun as the extroverts? So what if we can't go out partying every night? Let's cut ourselves some slack, sit on the couch, and read that book. When we've had enough alone time we will feel like getting dressed and going out on the town. And we will enjoy ourselves because we're listening to our own body rhythms and not to everyone else's expectations.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Asking for what you want

In the last couple of days I realized something that is huge for me--even though it makes total sense. Rather than bitch about what you don't like, it's better if you just ask for what you want.

This is especially true in relationships with men. Has nagging ever made a man do something? Usually men just run for the hills, and frankly I can't blame them. But I have found that if you are happy and kind and you ask for something, men are usually happy to comply. They actually want to make us happy but can't do it if we're always complaining no matter what they do. Then they just give up because they figure that it's hopeless. But when you make it easy for them by being specific about what you want, then they will usually honor your request.

As an example I offer my experience this past Valentine's Day. I didn't have plans but was in the mood to have some fun. Fun is a new concept for me and I am starting to appreciate it. So I texted the one man in my life who shows up every now and then, and asked "Wanna be my Valentine for the day?" I have to admit that I had to think twice before I sent the message. What if I got rejected? What if this gave him the upper hand? What if he already had plans with someone else? All these thoughts were running through my mind. I realized that they were just fear thoughts and I refused to be intimidated. I would ask and I would see what happens.

His answer came back a few hours later: Yes. Not only that, but he had bought tickets a while ago to hear music at a jazz club. So we wound up doing the whole Valentine's Day full out. I got dressed in a new red dress and put on lots of makeup. He got dressed in his expressive way. He brought me chocolate truffles because I asked him to. This, despite the fact that he felt like a "square" which he avoids at all costs.

We drove to the city (I tend to forget that there's a beautiful city just half an hour away). The club was filled with happy couples. The music was great. There were red, heart-shaped lolly pops on the tables (corny, but I enjoyed it.) I even had a drink. Well, half a drink as I can't handle alcohol. It was called "Georgia Peach". It tasted like fruit juice but it hit me over the head. That was fine. I hadn't had alcohol in years and it was interesting to experience it again.

After the club, we walked in the city and then took a long scenic route home, enjoying the beautiful bay views. We joked, we laughed, we had a good time. We have processed issues together for over four years. What a relief to just enjoy each other's company and have fun. And none of this would have happened if I hadn't had the courage to ask for what I want.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Loving and Honoring Men

A friend "accused" me recently of being unnaturally attracted to men. She said that she didn't know too many women who liked men the way I do. She wasn't talking about being sexually attracted to men. She was talking about the fact that I like men in my life and I don't see them as the root of all evil. It was funny that she thought my liking men was strange but it wasn't surprising as she is gay, holds women's groups and is studying feminine spirituality.

The Masculine has been coming up in my life a lot lately, to show me where I have been unbalanced and how I need to heal. I spent my late 20's and all my 30's trying to be an imitation man, with the business suits, running departments, and trying to be something that I wasn't cut out to be. Of course this took its toll on my health as the body is not meant to run for years on adrenaline. I realized recently that I no longer fit in the business world.

I realized also that I don't fit in with the women who have issues with men, or ignore men, or can't wait for the Goddess to take over and make men pay for 5,000 years of male domination. I was talking with a male friend yesterday who told me how painful it was to grow up in a house of angry women, with posters up that said "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle." He is a sensitive guy, an artist who is also a carpenter and I care about him very much.

Two gay male friends came over for brunch yesterday and I enjoyed their company and their diversity. They've been together for over 20 years. One of them is a very logical, linear lawyer who is skeptical of most new age things, while his partner is a very intuitive guy who remembers his past lives in Atlantis. I love them both. And I love my over the top testosterone friend who would like to have a harem of women--even though I'm clear that I have no interest in being in the harem.

What is there to love about men? my gay woman friend might ask. I love their strength and how protective they are. I love how they can fix things and how grounded they are in this world. I love how logically their mind works--direct and to the point. I love how they can lead and how they have honor and how they are willing to die for what they believe in. I love their sense of freedom and adventure. I love their sense of humor and playfulness; the little boy in them seems to be just beneath the surface waiting to come out. I love how dependable they are and how they take responsibility not only for themselves but for the larger community.

Is this an unhealthy attitude for a woman to have? I believe that a woman can be in her power and love and honor men at the same time. I don't want to be a man nor do I want to control men. I want to partner with them to create a better world.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Doing things for people to get love doesn't work

I thought this was obvious to me, but it must not be as I keep finding myself in painful situations where I'm giving too much and I'm exhausted. Rather than getting love as a result of giving, I seem to be getting requests to give more. This doesn't happen with women--just with men. So I'm seeing that it must be some father issue I have.

Last night a friend called me at 11 pm as he was on his way home and passing by my neighborhood. I was up and felt like seeing him though I was tired. It had been a very intense week. He showed up hungry. OK, no problem, I heated up some turkey meatloaf. Then he wanted dessert. Ok, I had bought a chocolate cream pie and ice cream. I served dessert. At this point I was feeling very depleted.

He looked at me and asked, "Have you always had those dark circles under your eyes? You look like Dracula." Nothing like a nice compliment after you've served someone dinner at midnight. "I'm really tired," I explained. I started to tell him about my week but he wasn't particularly interested. He had another favor to ask of me. At this point I just said, "You've got be kidding! Do you realize that you just take and don't give back?" "It's time to go," was his response. Yep. it was.

I wasn't angry. Our interaction was so ridiculous that I got to see the pattern that I've been running and how ineffective it is. Doing for others turns you into a servant, not into the Beloved. It's fine when you're a mother as you have a responsibility to raise the children you brought into this world. But treating an adult as you would a child--giving and giving without getting anything back--is idiotic. It creates abuse and co-dependency. I read somewhere that people wind up hating the ones they are dependent on. I believe this to be true.