Saturday, November 27, 2004

i before e?

i have been taking personality profiles and tests since i began therapy 20 years ago. i've done them all, but recently i have realized that part of my brokenness was being very disillusioned with what it meant to be female and what it meant to own my femininity.

because i had no female role models that i could honor (either there were women held up as the 'model proverbs 31 woman' that i was supposed to emulate and couldn't, or women who were strong, independent types that i was drawn to, but they were targets for my culture's venom as women's lib-ers or too 'unbiblical' to allow myself to really look up to them) i created in my broken psyche what i thought a christian woman was supposed to look like, and i was supposed to emulate, and then went from the extremes of trying/failing/give up/trying/failing/give up... it was a very confusing process.

this is why i can sympathize so closely with my mother even though there was much in our relationship to cause pain and a lot of therapy. she was as confused as i was, and didn't fit into that mold that the church tried to stuff us into for so long either.

so back to the personality profiles... i think i have answered the questions on those tests with that image i thought i was supposed to be, instead of how i really was. i have been very confused deconstructing this image, replacing the lies with the truth and deciding what to keep and what to throw away. so much of this has wound it's way into the very core of my being.

somehow in that constructed image i thought that extrovert meant strong and confident and an introvert was weak and shameful. i decided i was not going to be weak (it's filled with paradox because i was always rebelling against the tight constraints given to me by the church i was raised in) and have constructed myself to be an extrovert. it's like i saw it as a goal, set my mind toward it and forced myself to BE and 'e'. i am only now realizing how damaging that has been to my person, how little value i placed on who i really was, and how much i shamed myself throughout my life for failing to be that constructed image of who i thought i was supposed to be.

i'm finding that i can hardly trust myself to respond to questions on personality tests because i've convinced myself that i am something i'm not, and i've done it for so long, and so well that i have succeeded in desperately confusing myself.

it's only been through reading the blogs of others (especially blair) as she embraces the introvert parts of herself that i have come to realize how damaging this mistaken belief has been to me. i now can see that each time i would push myself to be that extrovert the recovery process that would follow would be so intense. i would shame myself through the time it would take for me to forget how damaging that last episode was, so that i would push myself to do it again (and again, and again).

i'm having a terrible time trying to put these pieces together as there is so much shame i have to pick through to find the pieces of me in the shrapnel. i can hardly find the words as i have had so much 'people time' with company here that i can't think or express what i need to express, but i'm muscling through writing it just to get some of this out of my head and onto paper (er, well screen).

i love solitude. i love deep interactions. i love to be alone with my thoughts. i love to write. i love to dig deep. i love real, intentional relationships with others. i love my home to be my nest, safe and away from those things that drain me.

i hate forced relating. i hate small talk. i hate the church foyer, filled with all of that. i loathe being forced to be sociable and fake. i don't like people in my home who make any of the above happen. and most of all i hate that part of me that shamed who i really am for so long for thinking that anything else had to be true.

i embrace my introvert self. i was made this way. even though i am capable in front of people it doesn't mean i'm an extrovert. this is what i look like. this is who i am. i will not force myself, or allow others to force me into being something i am not. i embrace me. i am an 'i'!

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