Social Pill Bug

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My husband and child are social creatures. They are attractive and bubbly. They are bright and energetic. They feed off the social energy of a crowd.

Me? I'm that pale, startled looking beetle under the rock. The one who takes off like a bat out of hell when you flip the rock over, trying desperately to find cover. You can practically hear the beetle screaming in a little beetle voice "AAAAAAHHHHHHH!"

Aside from the obvious question of how two such different social styles met, courted and married (Thanks, Alcohol!) this has made our "friendships" as a couple and later as a family difficult.

Recently, Terrance has acquired some friends. I mean, I guess they are my friends too, and goodness knows they are nice people. I like spending time with them. But.... Well. They like to get together much more than I can handle.

This puts Terrance in the awkward position of trying to explain his weird vaguely anti-social wife, who never shows up for anything and doesn't answer the phone...or return phone calls. This, not surprisingly, makes him mad. At me.

For people without this intrinsic discomfort, I suppose it is an impossible thing to understand. NOT like being with people? What's not to like? I mean, you sit there. You talk. You socialize. You have some wine. In fact, I announced to this very group that I needed a great deal of time to recover after each time I am with a group. However announcing this to people who have no idea what you are talking about is like me announcing that I gave birth through my nose. Impossible!

However, I have done something now - twice - that I am both vaguely ashamed of doing, and at the same time wildly defensive about needing to do.

The first time I did it, I blamed the wine. I was tired and just wanted to go home. I git up from the table, gathered Emily and left. I said goodbye to no one. I left, fleeing to the quiet dark of my house, my rock. Terrance must have been told that I did this, for he asked me and I denied it. I was sure I had said goodbye to somebody, hadn't I?

Then last week, I did it again. I am, however, sure that I said I was going home to get Emily's stuff, as she was sleeping over her friends house. Then, the group of parents and kids met me at my door and after I packed her bag and handed her off, I knew I should have gone back to the party...but I couldn't. I mean, I KNEW I should. But I didn't.

The next day Terrance was quite upset. "You snuck off again without saying goodbye Dawn! You are a grown woman! You can't do that!"

I defended myself, knowing what he said was true. I had no real excuse, except that I couldn't go back. I had used up all my social energy in the two hours I had been there. I had nothing left to offer.

I needed to crawl under my rock and recover from the hopped up adrenaline of being with other people. My new skin is still a little fragile.

14 Baleful Regards:

Bethany said...

My husband and I are the same couple. He is social and I am not. Thankfully we work opposite schedules so these situations don't come up very often.

I have been know to limit my friendships to three at a time just because I don't have it in me to maintain more than that.

SUEB0B said...

I am soooo with you on this one. At a certain point, I just shut down and sit there with slack-jawed, praying for sweet release and solitude.

This is why I didn't have kids. One of the reasons, anyway. I KNEW I couldn't handle being around them ALL THE TIME without losing it.

theotherbear said...

My husband and I are also that couple. I am social and he is not. We used to have terrible difficulties. Eventually we worked out that he doesn't have to go - if he is there under sufferance, he won't have a good time and nor will I because he'll be cross/sulky/begging to go home. Our friends have gradually accepted it - they just assume alot of the time now that I will come to gatherings and he won't. It took so much angst before we came to this simple solution. We are both happier for it.

Anonymous said...

I do this. I leave without saying goodbye (ask Jen). My husband is super gregarious and I am . . .not. We fight about it.

I have no advice. Just a "yes, that."

Mitzi Green said...

i guess i'm lucky in that i'm one of those people who fluctuates between being very social and being very reclusive--and so is my husband. the problem is when we're not on the same socializing page (one of us wants to go out, the other wants to hide out). in those cases, we do what otherbear does--the one who wants to go, goes. and no hard feelings on either part. we don't really have any "couple" friends, anyway (mostly because of our age difference and his friends are still mostly single and childless), so it works out well for us.

Girlplustwo said...

we are the reverse, and it took a long time for me to understand the toll social took on him. for me, it's energizing, exciting. for him, it's exhausting.

so (you know, because i am WOMAN) have found a way to work around it and compromise, and yet still, while i respect it, it's hard to understand - so reading this makes a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

Dawn, I'm in your camp. It takes all I can do just to attend our STUPID office "Holiday Party" for 30 minutes and these are people with whom I have worked for 5 years. And the HR lady, just doesn't get it either "get out there", "mingle", "be social, it will come easier", ad nasueum (sp). She just does not get it. Then there's my husband, Mr. on his own since he was 10 (he did not have a great early family life) but he's like F anyone else, I don't care WHAT anyone thinks of me or what I'm doing, I'm going to do it anyway and then there's me who CONSTANTLY worries what others are thinking of me becuase I know how judgmental I am, I can only imagine other's views.

I have one very close friend and she works with me and even then, knowning she accepts me for me, I still feel the need to TURTLE and close out everyone around me when it gets too much!

Anonymous said...

I'm the social half of my relationship, though I do eventually reach my shut down point. My daughter is like me -- likes lots of socializing but if I pile the schedule too high, she melts down afterwards.

My husband needs far less socializing, and for us it has worked out that we use his work as an excuse. It isn't really a lie -- he's an academic, so he always has more work to do. So I take my daughter and spend time with friends, and he gets some quiet and works.

Since you're a student again, maybe you can try playing that card for public consumption -- gotta go, papers to write and treatises to read and all that.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am like this too. In fact I tend to avoid big social gatherings just because the hellos and goodbyes stress me out so much.

cristeta said...

Have you heard of "highly sensitive people"? Don't laugh, just google it and read about it. I am convinced that I am one, you might be too. No joke.

Bobita said...

Heh. Me. Too.

I get in trouble ALL THE TIME for not returning phone calls...or answering the phone for that matter. My husband will check the machine and inform me that we have 43 messages. Since yesterday. And I reply...See? Fuckin people won't leave me the fuck alone. Fuckin fuckers.

Oh, I can be the life o the party, but when I'm done...I'm D.O.N.E. I'm notorious for just disappearing. This trait is particularly pronounced when substances have been drunk or smoked.

Many people don't know this about me, though. I'm a closet recluse!

Mignon said...

My husband does the disappearing act too. And because everyone knows this, it's become funny ha-ha, rather than funny "old man with stacks and stacks of expired coupons needs to hurry home to his cats."

So I think once you have known these new friends for long enough, it'll just be your little quirk. They won't care and you'll all laugh about it.

Fraulein N said...

Heh. Dawn, that is me all over. The husband CLAIMS not to be a social creature, but he is much better than me at, you know, interacting with other human beings.

Anonymous said...

You SNUCK OUT?! You are now officially my hero.

I need lots of breaks from people. ROTC field training - 28 consecutive days without any alone time - nearly killed me. Actually, I nearly killed the rest of them.

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