I’ve heard and thought at times, that some of us need people in our lives and others are just fine going it alone. Some say extroverts need people and introverts don’t. Some say people aren’t trustworthy and it’s best to go it alone. That’s the group I was part of; I didn’t trust people with my deepest thoughts and feelings so I held everything to myself. That was until I totally flipped my life upside down when I had an affair several years ago. Maybe it was an explosion of sorts. Like all the parts that I kept to myself couldn’t take it anymore and burst out of me in a ground rocking, life shattering display. At that lowest time in my life when I looked the ugliest and had the most to be afraid about trusting with others, I finally let people in. I started the process of allowing myself to need others.
I recognize how heavy life can be sometimes; much too heavy to bear alone. I bring people in to my experience not to burden them but to soak in their care, kindness and encouragement. In the process of sharing my thoughts and emotions a connection begins to form between me and others. As time goes by that connection deepens. I am there for my family and friends and they are there for me. I could keep everything to myself, holding my cards close to my heart. I don’t think I would live very long though. I also think my body would react negatively to the “holding on”. Studies have shown that those who are going it alone have higher incidences of gastro-intestinal and cardio-vascular issues.
At this point in my life, it’s worth taking the risk that some with whom I share my life will betray my trust. I would rather be stung by being open and connecting than be protected but alone and isolated. The benefits to me far outweigh the risks. I have all these fabulous people with different perspectives who speak into my life or just listen if that’s what I need.
The extrovert-introvert argument doesn’t actually hold water. The general definition of an introvert is they are drained when they are around people and extroverts are energized by being around people. But “being around people” isn’t the same as connecting. An introvert may feel more comfortable in the moment being alone but an introvert needs trusted people just as much as an extrovert. When extroverts are being extroverted, it isn’t the same as forming deep connections with people. Deep connections have nothing to do with introverted or extroverted personalities. An introvert can have just as deep of a connection as an extrovert and vice versa. It’s not about personality type but rather a need of all humans to be deeply connected with at least a few people. It’s about our survival.
And it’s important if your daughter wants a lung transplant! Several of the pre-screening questions for me as her primary caregiver were on this very topic. Who do I turn to for support, how often, how am I dealing with her disease and need for a transplant??? Years ago I would have thought I was the best person to be her caregiver because I didn’t need anyone. I thought I knew so much and was so capable of taking on the weight of the world…I was wrong!