Isolation Observation: Just Because I’m Home Doesn’t Mean I’m Available

Editor’s note for this series: Times are weird right now. Confusion. Anxiety. Panic. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions these past few days. There’s a lot to observe when we’ve been forced to take a long collective pause. For our writers, they are working on their classic vulnerable OOM stories, and they are also bringing the funny, the reflective, and the weird bits we’ve all been experiencing during isolation. This new series, “Isolation Observation,” is meant to bring you into the very real worlds of our writers. Some go deep, some very light, and some in between. We’re all here in this together. xo Alex 

 

I’m an introvert. Some who meet me may be surprised at this. I put on a good show; even my husband remarks how often I befriend grocery store employees, baristas, and random people walking their dogs. But, truth be told, I love being alone. I need to be alone. I recharge in solitude. To exist as an introvert, I must set boundaries for myself. I don’t answer texts promptly. I don’t answer my phone…all the time. I may leave you on read on Instagram. FaceTime? Please, let’s make an appointment beforehand. 

Currently, I have 58 unread texts and 10 unread DMs. And I promise, this is of no intended harm to anyone who sent them. Many of these texts include plans of setting up FaceTime calls; others are warm, “Just thinking of you; would love to catch up” texts. I love everyone who has reached out to me. But I’ve noticed that with the many stay-at-home ordinances in effect, folks are ready to connect in a new way immediately. Me? I’m still connecting how I’ve always been. 

My boundaries haven’t changed since being home, nor have the ways or frequency that I connect with people. If anything, they’ve only tightened. I really want to join in on FaceTime calls, Zoom parties, and Facebook live sessions all in one day—but I can’t. I’m lucky if I make it to one of those during the week. It isn’t that I’m ungrateful, unattached, immune to the innate loyalty required in friendships, or not yearning for this social connectivity. It’s that I’m really sensitive to others’ energies. Yes, I can still become depleted even if there’s just a screen between us.

My boundaries haven’t changed since being home, nor have the ways or frequency that I connect with people. If anything, they’ve only tightened.

Julia-Elise Childs

I had hoped that this wasn’t the case for a brief moment, thinking that perhaps I could join in on every digital invitation I received—become the social butterfly my astrological sign says I’m supposed to be. But overstepping my boundaries in how I socialize leaves me with an emotional hangover. I was reminded of how delicate my boundaries are when I stayed on social media all day, responding to DMs and engaging in conversation while simultaneously juggling a series of FaceTime calls. It felt so natural, just engaging with my loved ones and remarking on the current state of affairs. However, after a day of engaging with multiple people, I was depleted. Tired and grumpy, I retreated to the bedroom, closed the door, and fell asleep earlier than usual. The next morning, I had zero interest in speaking to anyone. It wasn’t that I was upset, it was simply that I had nothing left. Due to the nature of my work, I can’t risk burning myself out before my workday even begins. Being at home doesn’t equate being available. 

When I have had enough sleep, meditation, time in silence, and walks in nature; when I feel I have filled my cup, I will then scroll through my phone and respond to messages one by one. For my newer friends, I will explain my introverted nature. And for my day-ones, well, they’ll get an impromptu FaceTime from me that they’ll inevitably answer with, “She’s alive!” 

This is the crux of being an introvert – deeply yearning for connection while minding to my need for quiet. Those closest to me know to take this aspect of myself in jest. No harm, no foul—I hath risen from the depths of social recharging! Alive and well, I’m ready to connect.

LET'S TALK: have you set quarantine boundaries?

6 Comments

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THIS ARTICLE

  1. This was amazing to wake up to see in my inbox this morning. It was like seeing what I’ve been saying over and over about myself that only a few people seem to understand. Most of my friends have at least come to expect it, I’m all too familiar with the “she’s alive”, and a couple friends actually understand it.

    One of my best friends though, we go “through it” every 6 months or so because of my bad communication. She takes it really personally, and always drives us down the bad friend route. I know that she’s a very emotionally needy person, sometimes even she’ll admit too, so I try and always see where she’s coming from and what she’s going through for my opposing habits to suddenly affect her negatively again. – when I was a kid, I went to therapy for years to learn how to cope with my feelings of not being good enough and not take in everyone else’s problems and feelings. It was like I was so absorbed and overwhelmed by everyone else that there was no room left for me. It’s something I still actively work on, and probably always will, but at least I’m able to be more aware of the signs. During that time, my mom worked hard to teach me the “that’s about them, not about you” concept. When someone gets mad and explodes, or says something really mean that’s unwarranted, or whatever negative thing that is directed at you, chances are there’s something much bigger in play in their lives and while in the moment it sounds like it’s about you, it’s really about them. – so that’s how I approach this friendship, and 9.9 times out of 10 that’s the case.

    It’s really exhausting, and when we cycle through the issue she can be really mean and emotionally abusive, but big picture I love her and we have a lot of really beautiful history. Right now we’ve hardly spoken in the last two maybe three weeks because of it, and because supposedly “I’m home doing nothing” – even though I’m keeping quite busy! I feel like I can’t keep saying sorry, though I continually do, but I’m really struggling to find the right tools to work through it with her this time. Needless to say, quarantine is not helping the situation.

    Thanks for posting this! I often have a hard time assigning words and descriptions to my thoughts and feelings, so it was really nice to read something that felt like it floated out of my own brain, but with clear articulation. It’s reassuring to know there are other me’s out there.

    5 likes
    1. So happy to hear that Julia’s words resonated. It’s important to set boundaries, especially during quarantine! I’m sorry to hear you’re having such a challenging time with your friend, I went through this a couple of years ago as well. I wrote an article about it as well, in case it helps. But long story short: I got rid of people in my life that made me feel “heavy”, and though it took time and a lot of therapy etc, I’m now surrounded by people in my life that only make me feel light. My relationships now aren’t “heavy”, and at the time I really didn’t know that was possible. The history part is really tough. Anyways, if you have the time and are interested, might be worth a read! xx Alex

      https://onourmoon.com/i-marie-kondoed-people-out-of-my-life/

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  2. Needed this message today. Was really struggling with setting a boundary with my mom, who has really been frustrating me since quarantine.

    3 likes
  3. thank you for writing this. today has required a tremendous internal strength as i set a heavy boundary that is very challenging for everyone involved, but absolutely necessary. this essay helped me to reflect on how far i’ve come in structuring my life with loving boundaries, and comes at a perfect time as saturn and the moon are nestled together in aquarius right now. boundary and structure and clear wisdom that can come across as aloofness and grumpiness (all saturn qualities) holding space for the emotional and embodied truth of the moon coming through you. thank you.

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  4. Totally describes how i’ve been feeling as an introvert during this quarantine! Thank you for posting this, it’s been really helpful for me & as well, so validating for how i’ve been feeling lately.. It’s been hard to set boundaries with people regarding this, especially family. I think I’m just going to send this article to everyone who I’ve been struggling to set that boundary with because you describe it so perfectly !

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    1. YESSS! So happy Julia’s words resonated so much! And thank you for sharing the article with your community!! xx

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