I am an introvert. There, I said it. Most people, sometimes even family members or others I know well, don’t see it. They see a fearless person who is avuncular, even loud-mouthed, and a sometimes a clown. They see a person who can stand in front of a room full of people and make a speech without fear. I’m painfully shy but have perfected the art of saying nothing while appearing engaged at every turn. It’s a ruse, but not an intentional one.
They don’t see a person who melts inside at parties and meetings. They don’t see someone who would rather be inside his head than out rubbing shoulders with others. They don’t see a person who prefers a trip to the dentist more than a Christmas party. It’s just me. I don’t see it as a good or bad thing, it is just a thing. My thing. It’s also something many extroverts understand about as well as string theory.
People often say that when children get older they become the parents of their parents. Sometimes it’s the slow, inexorable march of age. Sometimes it’s illness or a traumatic event.
I became my mother’s parent very young. She was mentally ill and it fell to me to care for her (and sometimes my mentally ill grandmother and sister’s daughter). It left many scars, and I’d not wish the experience on anyone, but there was some goodness in it. At only six or seven I didn’t even understand that it. She died young and it wasn’t until then that I really understood our relationship.
My father was an air traffic controller. He weathered the strange shifts and pressures of his job and an uncontrollable life. He was quick-tempered and aggressively decisive, but also a kind man. Although I had to shoulder an unfair and huge burden I always knew he loved me and that given the ability he would’ve made my life entirely different.