Monday, June 13, 2011

It Takes a Village

Why is it that you feel the most inclined to put the effort into things that are going to make you feel good when you already feel good?  When in an emotional low, all I feel like doing is curling up in bed and not talking to anyone or dealing with anything.  It's so difficult to break the cycle of negative, depressive behavior because lows lead to more lows.

If I'm feeling good I'm more likely to put more effort into my appearance, attend a social event, engage is physical activity such as working out or walking my dog.  If I'm feeling bummed out I'm not going to get ready or put makeup on, I won't want to talk to anyone so going out isn't an option, working out involves leaving my bed so obviously not happening. 

Why is that?  Why is it so hard to take care of ourselves when we feel terrible?  Sometimes it would be nice to have someone take care of me.  Flash isn't very good in these kinds of situations.  If I'm feeling low he'll avoid me because he doesn't know what to do and if he can't fix it then best not to be around me.  I'm not the easiest most agreeable person to be around during bad days, I know.  Sometimes you just need your mom.  Sometimes taking care of yourself sucks and you really want someone to brush your hair and make you soup and sit with you.

There's a fantastic line in the mediocre movie Shall We Dance in which Susan Sarandon's character describes why people get married.  She says, "We need a witness to our lives. There are a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'."

I think this quote applies to all human relationships.  We need friends and partners to share in the good, but we need them the most when we're down.  Someone to pick you up, make you soup and sit with you.  But you can't just have your boyfriend or one good friend because partners sometimes don't stick, and even the best of friends are going to disappoint you sometimes.  So you need to build up a little village for yourself; a village of people who give a shit about witnessing your life.  

This can be particularly challenging when you come from a small town in which you live close to your family, grew up seeing your grandparents all the time, have had the same best friend for over 20 years and still consider your girl friends from high school to be some of your truest friends.  Cultivating a new village, putting your time and energy into people who may end up being a total waste of time is a challenge. 

Hermit or villager?  The introvert’s constant struggle.

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