As noted in an earlier post I've been reading a book about introverts in the church. The first chapters of it launched several epiphanies, and I read on eagerly as I anticipated a fireworks version of aha's and revelations. Well, they came all right, but instead of them being about the church, the focus of the book shifted to the introvert. It talked about me. The insights were eye-opening, reassuring, and as I recognized myself more and more in the pages that I turned, the pain began to emerge.
I've known for more than twenty years that I am an introvert, and I thank the well-known Meyers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) for the first beams of light that opened some understanding in my life about the implications of what it means to be an introvert. But I had no idea of the depth of those implications, in spite of the fact that I lived them, felt them, and was shaped by them to such a deep and, yes, devastating, affect.
During the past week I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on what I have read (a typical thing for an introvert to do!). What I am learning is breaking open understandings about relationships with significant people in my life: disappointments some have felt in regard to me, laments that I have felt in regard to others and about myself, and the answers to mysteries have begun to emerge and take shape.
The pain that is spilling forth is an accumulation of hurt released by the recognition of something that is a part of me beyond my will or my choosing. It is simultaneously raw and cleansing. The good news is that it is being brought into the light. The healing of wounds can begin while at the same time I can begin to address how to embrace and integrate new knowledge into the person I am and will become.
Years ago, after I returned home from a semester in Scotland during my junior year in college, my brothers and I spent a week in Maine with my father and his girlfriend. One night we went out to dinner, and as were leaving the restaurant to head back to the house a discussion began to get tense. My brothers began to pick at and ridicule me for something I had expressed. I dropped into silence, and when one brother made an especially cutting remark Joan turned from the front seat to face them and said, "you have no idea how deeply she feels!" The car went silent. Had I not been driving I would have frozen in place. But this moment is etched in my memory because I felt seen, understood, and recognized in a way that I don't remember ever experiencing before that time.
These are tender days for me, but there is strength, now, in the understanding that is unfolding. There is so much more to learn and comprehend. There are things I need to learn to do to prevent hurts that, unintentionally, are inflicted on the people in my life. At this moment I can say to any of you that have felt disregarded or ignored by any silence or inaction from me, I am sorry.
I am learning to love myself differently through this awakening. Through that process, I will be able to love you better as well. Bear with me.