Craving Space–Followed By a Question for My Fellow Introverts

Solitude gets a lot harder to come by when you enter marriage and parenthood. As an introvert, solitude is crucial to my well-being. But it is now a luxury–something that only happens when all the stars align. It is afforded to me in small increments of nap times of my husband’s work schedule.

Lately, we have had company in and out of the house. The Mister has had several days off in a row and has been home for every one of them. The baby’s schedule is jacked up thanks to said company, so naps are hit or miss. This leaves me surrounded by people at every turn. Someone ALWAYS needs SOMETHING. The neighbors need to borrow the mower. The baby is like having the Tasmanian devil in the house 24/7. The husband is an ISTP, who has ZERO concept of personal space and I haven’t had 2 seconds alone in daaayyyys. He is like a kid with a puppy; he loves it so much he hugs it to death (I am the puppy). I am lucky to pee alone or take a shower without someone else in it. I’ve got three meals a day to cook, laundry and dishes to keep up with, floors that refuse to stay clean, a dog that wants in or out or to be fed. There’s always people coming and going, needing something, making last minute plans to do something THAT night. There’s the friend who talks my ear off, mostly about shallow things. Don’t even get me started on the noisy neighbor waking the baby from a much-needed nap. The one day I get out of the house kid-free turned into a disaster–the girl’s day out with a friend went to shit fast when she bitched out the salon receptionist and stormed out. That was awkward.

All of this has left me feeling suffocated. Like I need to get up for air and something or someone keeps pushing me right back down. I am drowning in a sea of shallow people, noise, crowds, awkwardness, demands, changes-of-plans, and inconveniences. I love my family and friends more than anything, I really do. But let’s be honest–sometimes I just want to watch some sappy lifetime movie uninterrupted, eat something I don’t have to share, and let out a fart or 2 without someone around to make a big deal about it. I’d like to shower alone and have the whole thing to myself and take as long as I damn well please. I want to pee without fighting the baby for toilet paper. I want to eat a whole row of oreos without judgement. I want to fold laundry in peace and quiet, and not have a toddler unfolding it all immediately afterwards. I do NOT want to watch Elmo, or one of my husband’s car shows.

How do you tell the people you love most in the world that you need space? How do you explain to them that it’s nothing personal, in a way they will understand? I find myself suffering through it, feeling cornered, suffocated, irritable. But I love being with them. It’s such a contradiction. I go back and forth, arguing with myself. If I had alone time, I would be a much happier person. I would be a better mother and wife. But what kind of good mother and wife WANTS to be away from her family, just to do nothing? It’s an internal struggle only an introvert would understand.

Fellow introverts: How do you recharge your batteries without hurting people’s feelings? What words do you use that help them understand without sounding selfish or weird?

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4 thoughts on “Craving Space–Followed By a Question for My Fellow Introverts

  1. Very difficult, especially for us INFJs since we like harmony. I am fortunate that I don’t have a house full but sometimes I do like to be alone and need it to write. I was fortunate to have this come up in a conversation with my husband and told him how I need alone time, blah blah. He wasn’t really aware of that, but he too needs it being an INFP, so he was supportive. I have a nephew and when I leave from being with him, it reminds me why I don’t think I could have kids. I like being able to hand him back to his dad. I get the perks without the headache. I am easily drained, so I can see the dilemma. Hopefully with gentleness, telling your loved ones will be easily swallowed. I wish you some much needed rest!

  2. Haha, wow, I can really understand your fear of stating what you need, but I also suspect it will be absolutely fine once you do. It’s perfectly ok to ask guests to spend some time out of the house, especially while you have a young child to look after (maybe they’d be able to take your baby for outings too?). It’s also ok to suggest that your guests check out a local restaurant and to let them fend for themselves with breakfast and lunch. Just say you need a bit of time and space to get on top of things, and you’ll catch up with them in the evening or something.

    With your husband, I’m wondering whether you always find it this difficult to say what you need, or whether everything’s feeling harder because of stress from guests. He’s also an introvert, so perhaps he would easily understand your desire to spend time alone and do certain things alone to recharge. It should definitely be possible for you to arrange certain times (either scheduled or more spontaneous) for him to take over childcare totally and let you spend time alone.

    I’ve always found that people have responded well when I’ve told them I need to spend a little time alone. Sometimes we have certain signals (closed doors, etc); sometimes I just announce “I’m feeling really introverted today, so I’m going to read alone for a while;” sometimes I’ve established certain rituals like not getting into conversations as soon as I come through the door. I usually pad it by reassuring them that I love them and want to spend time with them, but I just need a moment to decompress or whatever. Then when I’m refreshed, I make it clear I’m happy to be spending time with them again (as of course I am).

    Your husband and friends love you. They know you love them. They’ll almost certainly be happy to respect your boundaries (and if they’re not–that’s another story!)

    • Thank you for the feedback! You’re probably right, I’m sure they’ll be more understanding then I give them credit for. I worry too much. lol Thankfully, guests are not here anymore, so I have my house back and my normal routine. That helps a lot.

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