My childhood was not the kind of childhood that a “sensitive” introvert should have. The hard part was that my mother physically, verbally, and emotionally hurt me. It began at the age of 6 when she pushed me out the door of the trailer and shouted at me, “If you love your grandmother, then we don’t need you in this family!” I did love my grandparents very much, but for some reason, my mother hated my dad’s mother. And if she hated her, then I should hate her too. But at the tender age of 6, I said to myself, “No one can tell me who to love or not love, and I will always love my grandma.” Of course, it meant that my mother and I would be at war for the rest of her life.
Sometimes, I think the only thing that saved me from my mother’s hate was the fact that I was a sensitive introvert. Even as a child, I felt my inner life was somehow rich, full, and deep even if I was not yet able to find the correct words to describe how I felt. It meant I had an inner life to go to—a safe, quiet place deep inside myself, where I could live, think, and feel without anyone criticizing my inner life the way my outer life was battered.
My mother’s treatment of me also sensitized me towards other souls who seemed to be battered and hurt. I gave them what encouragement I could to help them feel good about themselves. But I still wonder what I could have done and who I could have been if I’d had a childhood of love, encouragement, and understanding. All kids should be given love and kindness, treated with respect, and allowed to be who they are.
When a friend asked me if I could change only one thing about my life, what would it be, I said I would have loved to have a mother who loved me. That’s the only thing I would have changed.
But I know for sure the best thing about my life is being an introvert, even being a “sensitive” introvert, and although it’s hard to deal with sometimes, I would not change that at all. It has given me some deep insights into the way I see the world—the way I see people, suffering, and happiness. I know some folks who aren’t touched by the suffering of others or the injustices of the world and who go about their lives without feeling all that different or moved by the things around them. But it seems to me that if we aren’t moved deeply by others’ suffering, by the injustices and heartaches of others, how can we be moved deeply by the joys and happiness of others? By the beauty of the earth and sky and the laughter of children?
I know that being a sensitive introvert means I feel another’s pain and sorrow deeply. However, I also know that I can feel utter joy and happiness over the smallest things: a butterfly landing on my flowers; a child laughing on a swing; a bird bringing food to the babies in the nest; a good book; a glorious sunset over the Rockies outside my apartment window; a friend writing to tell me how deeply my poem on hope had touched her; or going to an art show, seeing a watercolor painting by a high school student, and buying it so I can see it all the time!
I am happy, proud, and content to be an introvert. I just wish more people could become aware of how it adds to our lives and spread the word!