There are times I feel that something is wrong with me in how I process the world around me. Sounds, particular sounds, send me off the rails immediately and will always ruin the rest of my day if they persist long enough. Using an example that is affecting me right now, my colleague over the cubicle wall is being overly aggressive with his mouse. He clicks hard enough to make the mouse sound hollow, lifts and drops the mouse like it has a ball but is an optical, and doesn’t like to use the scroll wheel evidenced by the hundreds of clicks in a row all day long. This shouldn’t bother me. This also isn’t the first time crap like this has been the focus of my online writing. This sensitivity to sound is a constant reminder to me that I’m not like the ordinary person that can block this ambient background noise out. The frustration with my sound sensitivity manifests itself as anger, anxiety, and depression (when it persists without recognition). I’ve been off and on talking with doctors and being on this medication or that, always pushing to get away from those things. Medication specifically dulls all my senses and takes the color out of everything around me. I see the need for it at the time, but addressing the underlying issue in some way negates the need to keep taking said medication in my opinion.
As my wife and I were looking for a new house, I was extremely particular about where my office would be and immediately removed homes from the list that didn’t meet my requirements. The office had to be in the basement, and more importantly, in the corner to be less likely I’ll hear people walking around above me. It also had to be away from any common area in the basement or have a solid door to help block sound. She didn’t understand how one room could have so many requirements, she’s not an introvert. In the end, I got my office in the corner, but not with a solid door. I compromised when I saw that the radon mitigation system was going to be installed in the corner of my office providing the low hum of white noise that is so well at covering over other way more annoying sounds around me. I have yet to work from home to see if it truly is adequate or still bothersome. The only time it would be an issue is when my daughter is home during the summer, any other time, she’s at school all day.
I’m not alone in the fact that true silence is a fundamental motivator for me. In the absence of true silence, like now, I find that music in the background is the best method for concentrating on a task at hand. Silence to me lets my brain process, think, and wind down to where I can more easily focus on what I’ve decided to do. The week we moved in, I found the chaos of the house too much and ended up snapping nastily at everyone around me, mostly towards the end of the week. I ended up making a list, with my wife’s help, putting in the Bluetooth headset and just working through the list listening to music. Taking my time and working at my own pace, I got more done than either my wife or I thought and it was done right instead of half-assed. She saw that letting me work through a list without interruption or interactions with others was actually quite efficient. I truly think she’s starting to at least understand what I need even if she still doesn’t understand why, if ever.
The past several months I’ve noticed that my seeking silence has lessened to a certain degree. I’ve been continually saying to myself that getting frustrated or angry over something that isn’t in my control isn’t worth my time. Instead, I’ve considered alternatives that decrease the level of hell my brain is putting me through. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, depends on the day and how many problems have been dropped in front of me. I’m not full on with meditation, but I do try to get somewhere for a little bit each day that is completely quiet to clear out the brain buffer. I’ve also resisted having a beer or a drink like I had been doing the week I was off and unpacking into the new house. I came to the quick realization that it was just clouding things and artificially pushing thoughts into the background for a while before they would come rushing back. I do enjoy a beer or two over the weekend though when I’m much more relaxed.
My daughter is also showing signs of behavior that leans more towards the introverted rather than the extroverted. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when I tell her she needs to go outside while I remain inside, I’m not sending the right message. I’m still not sure if she’s being a typical 9 year old or if there is something more that is underscoring her behavior. The wife and daughter over this past weekend decided to go swimming at a neighbors house we’re watching while they’re away on vacation (they told us we could use the pool). They left and I decided rather than sit at home watching TV or unpacking something, I ended up heading down to sit near the pool while they were there. It was forced from my perspective, but they appreciated the fact I was there even though I wasn’t swimming. I ended up relaxing a little more despite not trying too hard to do so. Silence, while something I seek all the time, isn’t always the right answer for every situation. I have to keep reminding myself that being around people is a good thing.
The natural tendency I have is to be alone. My entire life, that has been my tendency. Up until I met my wife, my life wasn’t anything special and I often spent many hours and weekends alone despite having friends that constantly invited me places. Most of my close friends understood me to an extent, and never really gave up asking, because they knew at some point I would say yes and join them. Now that I’m married with a daughter, being alone is more of a luxury I enjoy at the expense of everyone else. It’s a hard line to balance on that I need to continuously work on or things start to fall apart. After 18 years (16 married) with my wife, she reminds me when I go too far to one side without actually telling me and eventually I figure it out and come out of my inner reflection. Only time will tell if I’m able to continue adapting and balancing socialization with seclusion. What I do know without a doubt, if pushed or forced, I will always choose seclusion over anything else.