If you met me in person, chances are you'd label me an extrovert. I'm more than happy to have a conversation with anyone I meet - friends and strangers alike.
My secret is that I need giant gulps of alone time to be able to function well and actually carry on those conversations. My tendency towards introversion combined with a history of isolation when things get rough make it easy to disappear and not engage in a new community. It is so easy not to reach out. I don't think I need to write out for you the reasons why from opening ourselves up to hurt to even just simplifying our lives with less conversations - less complications.
During this transition from being a "two legger" (as my husband says) to an amputee, I've not won the battle against isolating myself. There are days in a row where I'll barely reply to text messages and curl up on the couch with my dog when I'm in emotional pain instead of calling a friend.
But then there are the days where I do pick up the phone or send the message.
Earlier this week I was struggling with a situation that had arisen post-amputation and reached out to an almost stranger who I thought might have experienced something similar. Their response could have been to ridicule me, tell me I was being ridiculous, or to get over it - but instead, they listened and shared their own experience. In just a few hours together through conversation we sculpted a community that before had never existed.
I suspect my gut instinct may always be to hide - but one of my favorite parts about being a human is that I get to choose what instincts to listen to. When my past experience screams to shut down, I have the option to speak up.
This week was a beautiful reminder of how the power of community so often overwhelms the draw of isolation.