In-laws and alone time

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In-laws and alone time

Postby Suby » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:48 pm

I just came back from a fairly rough easter holiday for an introverted mind, and found this forum while frantically searching for some guidance online, and I'm so glad! I consider myself a very introverted person, and could use some insight from my fellow intros.

I've been with my SO, visiting his family. This has meant a week of being in a house that either has two radios tuned to different stations or radio + tv going in the room at the same time, combined with chitchatting and a dog that barks anytime anyone opens or closes any door. Halfway through the week I found myself faking a migraine to get a few hours with the bedroom door muffling all the noise and people. It's a small house and we are all in the same living space during the day. Being an introvert does not exist there, and not constantly hanging out with the family means being «difficult», and not being kind and appreciative.

I'm now back home, where I've gotten physically ill with nausea and exhaustion as I do when I've ignored my own basic needs for more than a couple of days. My SO is also an introvert, but less so than me, and I feel like he thinks he understands, but really he doesn't. For him being at his parents is relaxing, and when its just us two (at home or anywhere) it counts as alone time for him, and so he thinks it does for me as well, although I've told him it doesn't. I just can't seem to explain it to him in a way he truly understands, and that conveys how serious and important it is to me to get my space.

So my questions are as follows:
How do you cope when a social situation does not leave room for self care, without hurting and/or offending others (in my case my new family)?
And how can I let my SO understand that I need time to myself, completely alone, while still caring for his needs and feelings?

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Re: In-laws and alone time

Postby AcousticPond » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:03 pm

Hi and welcome, Suby!

I totally feel your pain; your husband's family sounds a lot like my former in-laws. The more the merrier, and they were all capable of having three different conversations with each other while talking on the phone, watching TV and listening to the stereo. It was mind-boggling. I used to feign headaches as well, but it never worked, since his relatives would all 'worry' about me, and would be constantly asking if I was okay, did I need Tylenol, did I need to go to a doctor, etc. It drove me nuts. And, if I just needed time away from them, I, too, got the 'difficult' label, or they'd ask my ex what was 'wrong' with me. Nice enough people, but I could only handle them in very small doses.

So, instead of feigning headaches, I'd feign 'work'. I'd tell everyone I couldn't get that much time off to visit (we all lived in different cities), and I'd visit for a day or so (or stay for one night), then leave and go home (we'd take two vehicles). That way, I'd have the house to myself for a few days, and some of the time, I'd take the time off work but not tell anyone to have ALL the quiet time. His family got used to the fact that I 'worked a lot' (I didn't, but anything for some solitude, right?). Not sure if that's an option for you?

What was worse was when everyone got together at MY house for a week. There was no avoiding anyone, and since I was the 'hostess', I had to be there and socialize with everyone (plus do the majority of the cooking and housework, which was exhausting in its own right). Most of the time, I'd get legitimately sick. The only way I found to get a break in that situation (if I couldn't use the work excuse) was to tell everyone I had a doctor's appointment and leave for a few hours, and hit the library (or some other quiet place) just so I could collect my wits and have everyone leave me the hell alone.

When I'm bothered by people for an extended period of time (more than two day, really), I get snappy and cranky. I just can't help it. When you're on mental overload, something's gotta give. Of course, none of the extroverts understand; to them, it's all one big, happy get-together, and they all wished it would last for longer than a week (seriously, just kill me).

My current SO is an introvert, as well, and like your SO, he sees time with just the two of us as 'time alone', but my opinion differs. For me to feel well mentally, I *must* have time with just myself and no other human beings, including him. He does have his own hobbies (he jams on the guitar with friends every so often and plays darts with another friend) so that gives me a night to myself here and there. But, on workdays, I also get up extra early in the morning while he sleeps, and that helps me get some me time, as well (an hour or two, most days). That helps immensely. I need to internalize a lot (just sit inside my own mind and be comfortable there), and having another human being in my space is distracting. They may leave you alone, but there's always the chance they'll bother you with something, and that thought is always in the back of your mind. Only true alone-ness gives you complete introvert freedom.

I do hope you recover soon!

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Re: In-laws and alone time

Postby shortstuff » Fri Apr 28, 2017 10:19 am

Hi Suby,

I am also considered rude when I escape to my room at my in-laws to read my book in peace - they are super sensitive, but my sanity is more important to me than their opinion so I just make an effort to be friendly and smiley when I am with them (I think it half works).

I'm coming to realise that my father is also an introvert, though I wasn't really aware of that label as I was growing up. When there are lots of family around, chatting, he often 'has a nap' in his chair. I'm not convinced he is always asleep, but even if he isn't, people don't try to involve him in the conversation, he can listen without having to contribute, or he can just let his thoughts drift and block them out without being rude. Genius!

Hope you find some techniques to help you stay relaxed.

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