Human Parts
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Human Parts

My Introvert and Extrovert Need A Divorce That They Can Never Have

By David Milgrim with begrudging assistance from David Milgrim

I am both an introvert and an extrovert. I don’t think this is so unusual. We probably all have intro and extro versions of ourselves. It’s kind of like masculinity and femininity but with less chance of offending everyone.

The issue for me is that my Intro and Extro are constantly fighting.

My extrovert is constantly inserting himself into social situations in a chronically desperate scramble to be seen, and my introvert is mercilessly judging him for it.

Especially in the middle of the night.

Growing up, my extrovert’s constant joking was the only way he could get in and out of conversations quickly enough to avoid being resented for taking attention from someone else. I get that. But it became so habitually ingrained that now he doesn’t know how to stop compulsively making jokes.

Meanwhile, my introvert is so small “t” traumatized by garden variety developmental neglect–like not being picked up enough as an infant–that he lives in a perpetual state of hypervigilant shame, forever afraid of being socially insensitive or, in some other way, not likable or good enough. I feel bad for him.

My introvert just wants to stay home where it’s safe, while my extrovert insists on going out. If there was any way to just let them go their own ways, I would, but it’s biologically impractical.

So, we’re all working on it in therapy. Every once in a while, there is a glimpse of progress and acceptance, and it feels like the union may have a chance.

It never lasts. But I suppose it’s progress, not perfection…

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