Loner. That word usually conjures up images of the guy in the leather biker jacket, standing in the shadows, trying not to be noticed. No family, no real friends, nothing to tie him down. That’s the movie version of a loner, though—not the real-life version.

I know this, because I am a loner.

I don’t wear a biker jacket (anymore) and I rarely go ducking in the shadows. I have family and friends I enjoy spending time with. Obviously, I’m not hiding away—blogging and Facebooking and having my own website isn’t the best way to hide—but I am a loner.

So what makes a real-life loner? It has to do with your energy source. Does being around friends and loved ones energize you? Or does it drain your battery?

For me it’s the latter. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t enjoy being around people—quite the contrary. I love my family, I love my friends…but I need time between visits in order to refill my energy tank.

It’s not a matter of what we’re doing either. We could just be hanging out, talking. But after a few hours I need to break away. Go find a quiet corner, or leave altogether. And if the gathering is at my house…well, expect me to get antsy and start hinting that it’s time for the party to be over.

The hardest part of this is that my husband’s family is full of extroverts. For them, family gatherings are all-day affairs. People everywhere, for hours on end. Add to that the fact that one get-together can end and the next day they’re ready to do it all over again. It’s enough to send me into an emotional tailspin. They gain energy by spending time together—but I lose it.

They simply don’t understand. To them, time is meant to be spent together, and “alone” means “lonely.” When I pull away, they can take it personally.

Fortunately, my husband has learned to accept this about me, and often passes on my regrets when I decide to stay home because it simply hasn’t been long enough since the last visit. He doesn’t truly understand what goes on inside me, but he sees the results. He sees how much more enthusiastic I am about going the next time when I’ve had enough loner time.

I sometimes wonder if this is why I write the way I do—in spurts, with big gaps in-between. Maybe I need a break even from the “people” in my head.

About Kat Heckenbach

Kat grew up in the small town of Riverview, Florida, where she spent most of her time either drawing or sitting in her "reading tree" with her nose buried in a fantasy novel...except for the hours pretending her back yard was an enchanted forest that could only be reached through the secret passage in her closet... She never could give up on the idea that maybe she really was magic, mistakenly placed in a world not her own...but as the years passed, and no elves or fairies carted her away...she realized she was just going to have to create the life of her fantasies. She shares that life with her husband and two homeschooling kids. Kat is a graduate of the University of Tampa, Magna Cum Laude, B.S. in Biology. She spent several years teaching, but never in a traditional classroom--everything from Art to Algebra II. Her writing spans the gamut from inspirational personal essays to dark and disturbing fantasy and horror, with over forty short fiction and nonfiction credits to her name.

23 comments on “Loner

  1. You’re not alone. hehe!

    I, too, am an introvert and you have described it perfectly. My condolences to your husband.

  2. Yeah, I know–poor guy. He’s an extrovert just like the rest of the Heckenbach clan. They’re all energetic, fun people, so I can see “why” they don’t understand me. But, sigh…no feelings would get hurt if they did.

    At least my characters understand :). Then again, they kinda have no choice :P.

  3. Maybe it’s something about being a writer, that many of us seem to claim “introvert” as a title. I’m with you. While I love being with people, the process fries me to a crisp, and I find after a lot of public interaction, I just want to crawl into bed for about 36 hours.

    Hang in there, loner in the midst of a herd of boisterous extroverts! So many of us know how you feel. But we best not get together to discuss it. 😉

    • Funny, Becky :). I saw this t-shirt when I was looking for pictures for the blog–it said “Loners Unite.” Hehe.

      And yeah, that’s how I feel–fried. Just completely overdone.

  4. Moi – the classic taciturn perfectionist, writer, poet. I can relate to both the need for people, Kat, and the draining after-effects of time with them, Becky. I /do/ believe it has to do with personality.

    Thankful for many friends and family who understand that about me, allow me space, love me anyway.

    P.S. Good post

    • Thanks, Chila. It’s definitely a personality thing, and I think many writers share that trait. Glad you have some understanding loved ones surrounding you :).

  5. Kat, I wrote the book – well, not a real book, but yes, I am an introvert with an extrovert Husband. We’ve learned to dance together just the same. Churches overall are more difficult. Most of them question one’s spirituality if one is an introvert and not there at every event.

    One thing I love about my introvert friends is that we all love our solitude, and we understand about energy levels.

    • I’ve actually noticed that a lot of couples are introvert/extrovert match-ups. Or at least, go-go-go-ers and homebodies. It can cause a little friction now and then–when your introvert tendencies come across as lack of enthusiasm or negativity–but it’s definitely a situation that works when you are committed :). I think sometimes God pairs us up that way—the introverts help keep the extroverts grounded, and the extroverts keep us introverts from becoming hermits.

      I agree about churches, too. I feel guilty for not being “involved” but what do I do if it totally drains me and I end up feeling resentful? Better off finding ways of helping out that don’t need lots of interaction.

      And yep, it helps to have friends of the loner sort to connect with—does that make sense?

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Ha! I am both. It really depends on my mood. I love people, watching them interact. I love interacting. But then there are times (maybe from too much) that I go silent for days or even weeks. I crawl into myself. And all I want to say to friends and family that don’t understand is…”It’s me, not you.” The Do Not Disturb button on my phone has irritated more than one person. 😉

    • Diane, I almost included something in this post about it being “me, not you”–and how it may be a line when you’re breaking up with someone, but for loners it the truth. When it comes to wanting time alone, it has NOTHING to do with the other people (most of the time–hehe) and everything to do with simply needing a recharge.

      And I do have extrovert moments. I can speak in public when I need to, and sometimes I really am i the mood to hang out with a large group. Those times are just few and far between.

  7. My Dearest Kat,

    I am like my daughter, I can be both, I have noticed that as I grow older I am a little more introverted. I still do have times when I need to be around people because I become extremely bored.I have always been the type that can work, socialize and keep house with no problem,but I reach a point where I have to have my alone time. I believe it all coincides with God’ plan.”All things in moderation.” I have to have an equal balance. My Husband is the introvert. He keeps me grounded. Besides, my alone time is when I listen and talk with God.

    • Why does it not surprise me that you are like your daughter? Or is it that your daughter is like you? 😀

      Moderation is a good practice. And spending that alone time with God is an even better one!

  8. I think I am loner in the extreme. I do not like “people”. I absolutely HATE crowds of any kind. I will avoid the beach and all other touristy places (zoo, museums, etc) on weekends because there are too many people. I do not do malls, especially at Christmas. I try to grocery shop in the middle of a weekday. I stopped going to movies in the theater because of ticket prices, but on the blue moons that I do go (I have seen exactly two movies in a theater in the last three years. No kidding) I make sure it is a weekday matinee or the Wednesday midnight showing or some other time I have a reasonable expectation that it won’t be anywhere near full.

    Family drains me. Badly. I won’t give reasons on a public blog, but I seriously HATE most holidays because it comes with the obligation to visit family. I can hardly wait until I am old enough that I can stay home on Christmas and have kids come visit me instead of driving and being away from home all day.

    Once upon a time, I lived in a log cabin in the moutains and it was a full hour drive to get to any kind of civilization whatsoever. In that situation, people give you a lot more leeway for being a hermit. I wish I could live there now. I don’t care that you can’t get cable. Give me an internet connection and a deep freeze (so I only have to grocery shop once a month) and I am good to go. I lived there in the pre-Netflix and pre-post-office-box era (it was general delivery for the first 8 years I lived there). I could certainly live there now.

    I’ve gotten to where I can talk to friends on the phone if they call (yes, all three of you), but I much prefer email. What can I say? I’m a writer. I prefer the written word to the spoken. I’m more comfortable when I can think before I give an answer. I’m less likely to say something stupid that way.

    I’m one of the strange people who didn’t see Gilligan’s Island with the proper sympathy. Tom Hanks in Cast Away I could feel sorry for, but did you see how they lived on Gilligan’s? That genius professor rigged up perpetual batteries for that radio and bicycle electricity for just about anything else they needed. Their clothes lasted YEARS, even with everyday wear. It didn’t appear they ever wanted for food; Skipper never lost a pound. Give me a bamboo and grass hut on THAT island, with a professor in the hut next to mine, and I think that would be paradise. I wouldn’t WANT to be rescued.

    Although, I’d probably want him to rig up a WiFi hotspot out of coconut shells and palm fronds… can’t upload writing to readers or get email without the internet. Oy. Well, not like I’d ever be that lucky anyway.

  9. Oh, how I would love to live in a cabin. Not on a mountain, but on a big ole piece of property out in the country. My life is so “suburban” right now, and I’d love to find a small town.

    I avoid the beach and the mall, too, but can’t say I stay away from touristy spot. We’re Disney fanatics, but we also know when it’s less crowded, and avoid the busy times completely.

    Oddly, there are times when I love talking on the phone, but admit that email has those advantages you mention—I love being able to think out my answers–and edit them before sending!

    • The biggest “problem” with preferring email is finding others who feel the same. We are a very rare breed. Most people think the phone is “easier” than having protracted discussions through email. I DON’T like IMs or text messaging, because I hate someone waiting for my response and it therefore loses the advantage of email where one can think, craft, and edit before answering. I love it when a friend calls (as opposed to some telemarketer—I thought those were supposed to end when we got that national registry?), but I generally don’t initate calls myself, just because I feel like then I have to have something to say, and I invariably don’t have anything to say that any sane person would care to hear. LOL

    • my dearest Kat,

      I do live in just the type of place you speak of,I have all the niceties of civilization with the aloness of reclusion , but it took along time and a lot of work to get here. This type of life is not for the faint hearted. I had to do without a lot before it got easy. Just remember,in life. everything has a price, I still wouldn’t give my home up for anything.

  10. I might live in the midst of suburbia with the rumble of traffic at my back, but I don’t have to leave my hidey-hole for days if I don’t want to. Though I do usually go downstairs to make real food and say hi to my lovely flatmates who surely sometimes wonder if I’m really here at all.

    This week is kids’ programme at church – and I signed up to be a group leader. Eep! Four days of madness and excess extroversion. Perhaps I can hide behind a camera for some of it.

    • Ah, now, Grace–you are one mad combo of introvert and extrovert. A class of your own, I think :). A long-distance extrovert–ready and wiling to reach out to people but from the comfort of your own home. Maybe just the way they do things in the future ;). Hehe.

  11. Well, I can’t say I’m an introvert. More like introverted. I mean I was in a band-lead singer. But during that moment in time, I would much rather have been behind the musicians, doing my “thing”.

    But, like Diane said, I am very introverted and an extrovert. I’m not ashy person, yet I’ve been called “shy” all of my life. Especially now since coming out of what I like to call the “writer’s closet”, it adds to the whole introverted things.

    People probably say, “Ohh…yea THAT makes sense that he’s a writer now. It “suits him. But…they are right.

    By introverted I mean I have forearm tattoos-taken for surface value the bearer of such things are “considered”, deep/mindful/artistic and yes here it goes again, introverted.As opposed to someone who has ink on his/her back or legs.

    Trust me, it’s a “real” study.

    The first definition reads:a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings
    The next:to direct (the mind, one’s interest, etc.) partly to things within the self.

    I am this person. I truly believe as some of you have noted, it’s a writer thing. A creator thing. An artistic value. Other wise we’d be seen as shallow.

    As Christians we must be introverted–to direct (the mind, one’s interest, etc.) partly to things within the self. –To BE a better Christian, man, woman, this, that we have to look inside our selves. That makes us what is called-“deep”. I don’t believe in a “shallow” Christian. But that’s an entirely different thread.

    As far as being a “loner”, I am the only one “like” me in my family. I mean of course we all have talent but I would be considered the most introverted yet EXtroverted one.

    Those who are intros/extros say HEEEY! 🙂

    • I hadn’t heard that about tattoos, either. I’m very introverted, but I have my tattoo on the inner side of my ankle. That would be an interesting study to read.

  12. I definitely can’t see how you’d be called “shy” based on what I’ve seen of your personality yet, Tymothy–but then it goes a lot deeper than that, doesn’t it? Introverts can be in the spotlight, even put themselves there over and over, and seem like extroverts–it’s not shyness–it’s like you said, it’s where your focus is. Inward.

    Never heard that about tattoos….very interesting. Seriously, I can see that being true.

    And I think we creative types definitely share certain characteristics, things that make us “different” whether we’re introverted or extroverted.

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