“…avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you)…” Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
I (Tim) made a mind-bogglingly stupid move this week. I was out grabbing lunch, when I noticed someone I knew at one of the tables. He was engaged in a conversation and didn’t see me. And I used that as an opportunity to scuttle to another part of the place where a wall would be between us. If I couldn’t see him, he couldn’t see me.
Now, this guy is pleasant. Funny, interesting, a good guy. But I didn’t want to interact. Not so much as to go by and say a quick “Hey.”
One of care giving’s side effects is to send my introversion off the charts. When I’m not doing all of the required (and often unwanted) chores, I want to withdraw and refresh.
An unplanned conversation, even with a pleasant person, gets my adrenalin pumping as my anxious mind blares, “Oh, crap, where is this going? What’s he going to want? How long is this going to be? Boundary! I need a boundary!”
I realized that this is the same mind-body reaction that takes place when I hear our autistic kid waking up. Usually, I’m up first (well, the dog is and expects me to follow ASAP). When I hear Joey stirring, the mental noise and bodily tension starts: “What mood is the kid waking up with? Is he feeling sick at all? Is there a seizure on the way? Did he have a bed or bathroom accident? Will he take his breakfast and meds cooperatively, or will he fight me over it? Will he get his coat on and get on the bus without hassling Melissa and the driver?”
Except for the bus part, every morning is like that, 365 days a year. And that’s just the first hour of care giving.
We’ve blogged here before about care giving’s disruption of social life. For an introvert like me, it gets to the point where I just about don’t want a social life. Really warped. Mind-bogglingly stupid.
I’m hoping to convince Melissa to share about what it does to an extrovert – she’s noted some ways that it warps her social interactions and I’ll ask her to share that in her own words. If I don’t hide out and avoid bringing it up.