I have not been really vocal outside of my immediate family and friends about the struggle I've been experiencing over the last year, and more deeply since November. I've done a lot of thinking these last few months and realized my silence, and the silence of millions of others like me, is partially to blame for the surreality we are living today.
My initial reaction, whenever I ponder a little too long on this, is a strong desire to retreat. To escape into the wilderness. To make real my strongest dream as a teenager, which was to move into a cabin in the mountains and never be seen again. Seriously. That was what I wanted. I even wrote that down my senior year and put it in a time capsule. I laughed when I read it years later after the time capsule was opened.
I'm not laughing anymore.
An introvert has the advantage of having lots of conversations happening inside their head at any particular moment in time. It is not a conversation with lots of voices, or a conversation with others, but rather a conversation with our own self. Living in solitude, then, is less stressful for me as it might be for others who need social interactions. Don't get me wrong - I would not be able to live in solitude indefinitely, but a monthly or bi-monthly trip into town for supplies would be enough to get me through the next month.
I could not leave my family, though, and that is what keeps me here. That, and something my pastor said to me when I talked to him about this pull. He said that he had no doubt that living in the woods would be what I needed, but it wasn't what the world needed. He said that if I did leave society, I would also be taking Elaine, and everything she contributes, away from society.
I don't have any illusions that the world, or even my local community, would miss Elaine that much. I don't believe that I hold within my brain the gift of something big. I do see his point, though. By running away, I would not be facing the challenge. I would not be joining forces with the brave folks who stayed behind. I would be doing nothing to make things different for anyone but myself.
Can't get much more selfish than that.
So in this blog post, I am making it official. I am denying the instant reaction and sticking around. I am focusing on what I can DO, rather than how I can COPE. I am being VOCAL instead of being SILENT. I am LOSING some friends and I am MAKING new ones.
I know that I will be labeled because I live in a society where labels are the first thing to come off a welcome wagon. I've never been such a part of this society that labels stick.
I apologize in advance for those labels littering the ground behind me as I brush them off my shoulders.
I know that some people will tolerate me, but think differently about me. I expect it, and I acknowledge that is a part of their defense mechanisms - handed to them in small doses by society from the day they were born.
I apologize in advance for not giving a damn what they think.
I know that some people will feel threatened by my opinions, as they are threatened by others like me.
I will not apologize for who I am.