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Language Log

Wednesday, Jun. 30, 2021 - 10:44 p.m.

Got on the road. Frustrating morning. 3 children taking turns asking “when are we leaving?”, starting 6 hours before we left.

Then on the road… E. He talked or made noises the entire time. Loudly. And often trying to involve us. Or touching me. “Mommy, watch me do nothing!” Direct quote. Did “nothing” for 20 seconds, then gave a several minute description of the nothing he had been doing.

I’m dehydrated and I have a headache and I would really really enjoy some silence. By the end, anyone talking to me felt like a demand. To have to respond. To even comprehend. I even resent my automatic language processing. I wish I could flip a switch so everyone would be speaking gibberish and I don’t have to fucking worry about it.

During the few moments I managed to have thoughts of my own, I was thinking about personal boundaries pertaining specifically to my having a need for low levels of socialization, especially when stressed.

Boundaries exist when the crossing of them will cause you harm. Other people may feel hurt when you don’t conform to their social expectations, but ultimately those are rules they are imposing on you, or assuming you will conform to. If conforming to a social rule causes you harm, you shouldn’t have to do it. Emotional hurt they may feel at your not obeying an unspoken rule is a result of stories they are telling themselves, not reality.

The problem is that emotional hurt due to unmet expectations feels like harm to them. I think there is a difference though between harm that results from my boundaries being violated and this emotional hurt resulting from made up stories about the reasons for my boundaries.

Obviously there are different sorts of social rules. I’m talking about things like I have experienced lately or anticipate feeling pressure about while in Memphis. Forced socialization. When my social needs are not just low socialization needs, as I’ve often described them, but actually a need for low socialization. “I don’t need much in order to thrive” vs “I need to really limit it in order to thrive”. And there’s some anxiety but I don’t think that’s it. I’ve taken online quizzes about social anxiety and I’m really very low. Most of them focus on worries, specific worries. I don’t worry too much. I mean, some, depending on the situation. But that’s not all if it or even most. And introversion, too, accounts for some but not all.

I would say a boundary I have is, I will not apologize for or attempt to justify my need for solitude. My need for solitude trumps the desires of others for me to conform to social norms. If me respecting my boundary results in harm to them, they are free to make a boundary of their own. But I am not going to allow myself to experience harm for the sake of their social comfort or to indulge their stories.

On a case by case basis, of course. I do well when I can. But when I have a voice inside me screaming NOOOOO, I need to listen to it. I will try to be kind and considerate in asserting the boundary, but I need to listen to myself. Meltdowns suck and when I go into something knowing I’m going to shut down or melt down as a result, it only increases my anxiety around such situations in the future.

Anyway, that’s as far as I’ve gotten.

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