Y’all, I’m an introvert. Well, that’s not exactly true. I like people once I’m around them, I like to hang out, I like to talk. What makes me an introvert is that I am always dreading being with people, and coming up with reasons I shouldn’t or can’t go. Once I am with people I am constantly analyzing myself and those I’m with, seeing if they’re judging me, and constantly over talking to make sure that they “like” me. I am exhausted by the time I am done. I need to be alone to recharge.

Alone to recharge is different than isolating myself because of my anxiety around people. Sometimes alone is okay, sometimes it is great, and important and necessary.

Alone is okay. Isolation is not.

Isolation, especially self isolation, is often a symptom of anxiety, frustration, and feeling judged. Isolation can happen when we decide that it is safer to keep to ourselves than put ourselves out there. Isolation is lonely, even for those of us that like to be alone.

I am seeing more and more isolation as social media becomes more and more prevelant in our daily lives. Friends post that they feel inadequate, judged, unwanted, or not good enough to go out and be a part of the world, so they sit at home and watch the world through the lens of their computer. I am guilty of this myself. The problem that comes is that the internet is an extremely judgmental place that frequently increases feelings of inadequacy. By refusing to have personal contact with real people we are only reinforcing the cycle of isolation, judgement, and aloneness.

As I am working through the first few weeks of yet another deployment, I am finding myself jumping in to a world of isolation with the ease of an Olympic diver. Doing it all on my own, escaping into my phone, and ignoring the help that I am offered by others has become almost too easy. I fool myself into thinking that it isn’t self-isolation, but “being strong”; by telling myself that if I can do it on my own I have to, by telling myself that I can only ask for help in a real emergency, by using my children as an excuse to excuse myself from invitations.

I get angry when the people I love don’t accept help when they so obviously could use it, but, god forbid, I allow them to help me when I need it. As an example, one morning last week, when I was working two jobs, and my girls were getting up hours early to dog sit, my kitchen and dining room flooded. Not a leak, not a devistating television style flood, but 2 inches of standing water. Did I call any of the people who have offered to help? No. Did I ask someone else to take the girls to the dogs? No. Did I call my co-workers and ask if they could cover so that I could be a bit late? No. I took care of it myself. The calling for repairs, moving furnature, cleaning, getting everyone where they needed to be, making lunches for the kids, working a full day, everything. I was exhausted, on the verge of tears, and feeling like a failure. I didn’t need to do it that way, I had multiple people offer to help as soon as they found out, but for some reason I had to prove that I could do it alone, all by myself, without anyone.

What’s the point? I guess all comes down to allowing others to do for us what we would do for them, forgiving the things in ourselves that we would forgive in others, and letting those who we love help us in the way that we would help them. Be alone when you need to be, but don’t let the circumstances of your life isolate you from the people who you need the most.

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