When an Introvert Grieves


People say, “Don’t isolate.” What if I connect to peace, the divine, and my loved ones on the other side in solitude?

Being with others—anyone, at this point—feels confining. Solo, on my deck, with my dog, or walking in the woods, I’m free to let my heart and mind converse while my soul steps forward.

When I’m alone, my beloved talks to me from the beyond. What?! You say the girl’s gone bat shit crazy? When I’m alone, I don’t care because even if it’s make believe (I know it’s not), I’m continuing a relationship I never wanted to end. Neither did he. Maybe that’s why we’re so lucky.

I’m lucky. I’m loved by so many. People want to reach out and comfort me in my grief. In gratitude, I try to reach back, but it’s an uncomfortable stretch for me.

I make that stretch because I live in this world. Being with others grounds me like a teenager in love with a boy her parents can’t understand.

Once grounded, I try what works within those parameters: socializing. But, small talk is like eating sand. Maybe because I was in sales for so long. Now, I can hardly tolerate what I once did so well for a living.

I’ve shifted. If you don’t want to go deep and be real, I’m not interested. I’m not saying I can’t be. It takes work for me to come outside of my mind and be fully present with you. I strive to listen and ask questions, due to my craving for soul connection—or at least erasing the mask of personality and finding the point where we’re the same.

It appears people in this land of extroverts enjoy people’s company regardless of the depth of conversation. Maybe that’s not true, but I’ve found a lot of people not so into being real. They only pretend to answer questions about who they are. Deflection is a mastered art in socialization.

So many people wear masks and shields when they enter the world. It makes sense. We’ve all been hurt. Sometimes it’s unconscious. As authentic and present as I strive to be, I keep my old shields handy. They go up readily and rightfully in the company of certain individuals. Don’t we all do that, even a little bit?

I feel it and I’m tired. I don’t want the weight of my shield and the mask no longer represents me, but I don’t yet know what does. I’m transforming.

I like being at home, alone, naked of my armor, and free to just BE: happy, sad, angry, blissful, and bereft. Here at home, I feel secure and comfortable—the safety extroverts get out there with other people.

Let me be clear: I don’t like a lot of people. So, now you know. I spent my life trying to like everyone and judge no one. Kevin helped me to see and accept this truth and many others about myself. I judged myself for not being like Kevin or my sister Jayne. They seem to like most of the people they meet. I find it fascinating and impressive, but I no longer pretend I feel the same.

I don’t like a lot of people. That’s true, but it’s not that I dislike, disrespect, or wish them any harm. It’s just that their company doesn’t spark anything in me. Nor mine in them.

Then, others light me up, turn me on, ignite my energy, and help me remember who I aspire to be (ME!) and who I am without my mask or shield: a beautiful soul playing a role on earth. I recognize the same in them. Although I despise the word tribe, it fits.

I come from a small tribe. Currently, it’s a tribe of one plus. In my tribe, we hold private ceremonies. My dog, God, guides, angels, and loved ones on the other side, even Mother Mary, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ are invited.

If I share this truth outside my in social circles with unspoken conventions, I feel self-conscious, pretentious (even though I’m only sharing my experience), and defensive (as if I have to prove what you’ll never believe). Why?

At home alone, I relish my introvert status. I feel no dispute in who I am. Well, that’s not quite true. I see my inner conflicts and sit with them. I read (solo). I write (solo). I pray, walk and think with myself and my (imaginary?) man. I never enjoyed anyone’s company so much as when Kevin was here. I still do. It’s my private heaven.

I know he’s dead. I’m grieving in my weird, wild, introverted ways. Let me.

Let me be alone with him. Let him whisper in my ear, make jokes, send me signs, and dance with me. Maybe I’m crazy. “Crazy, sexy, cool!” Kevin says.

Is this why they say, “Don’t isolate”? You’ve got to be kidding me! I’m an introvert. I like my company.

Here’s the other thing I find happens to me—as an introvert, surrounded by extroverts (people I love). I say yes on their behalf. Or, I say yes trying to convince myself it’s all about the attitude or energy I bring.

So, I find myself in the back of my sister’s boyfriend’s new Toyota Avalon. I’m uncomfortable. Can you direct some air back here?  Not so fucking much! Geez, I’m freezing. I recognize this as a small form of a panic attack, although I don’t believe in such things. But, if a panic attack is like Get me the fuck out of here! Why did I come? I want to go home! This is stupid.

Just breathe, I tell myself. Alice, just breathe. Then, eat. You need some food. I breathe. I eat. I mentally cuss out the waiter. Where’s my goddamn beer?

Don’t worry. I’m not turning into a drunk any more than I’m going to be fat. It’s just that I have an insatiable appetite to feel good. Right now, it’s sometimes cheap leaps. I allow myself because I know myself.

I’m an introvert and a rebel. Basically, I spend time alone thinking of how I can shake up the world. I want to fight the big things—racism, poverty, electing money, the prison industry…but right now I’ve got the ghost of grief on me. That works well for my introvert self.

But, the rebel in me? She likes to slam doors, burn bridges, jump on the back of motorcycles. My rebel self likes to walk away from relationships and jobs. She wants to prove her freedom. I do what I want!

I see her eating and drinking like she doesn’t care. She cares deeply about her health, but she’s so fucking scared that anything can happen to anyone and she just has to hold it together until the next time it falls apart. See, this girl in me, this rebellious, introverted writer has a broken heart the size of the canyons she ran through in her New Mexico childhood.

I’m trying to get that girl back. I remember being that little introvert, the rebel who abandoned Campfire Girls to build a fort in the canyon behind Mountain School.

In third grade, I ditched school to play in the canyon. Even though I got caught, I’ll never regret that day.

Or the ones where I lingered on the edge of cliffs while resisting the temptation to jump into death, darkness and the earth floor of the canyons.

I have within me a need to go to the depths of my grief alone. Just like the teenager who ran her way through more canyons than I can count.

Don’t worry. As was the rule, I’ll be home for dinner. Or I’ll call.

Please don’t worry about me when I isolate. I’m not alone.


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