Monday, November 12, 2012

Thumb Times I’m in a Zone

 If I circle my right wrist with my left thumb and middle finger, they don’t quite meet.

If I circle my left wrist with right thumb and middle finger, they meet without any problem. And if my thumb joint would allow me to straighten it, it looks like they could even overlap.

Does this mean my right wrist is bigger than my left? Weird.

Well, that’s not the case. But the real case is still weird. Turns out my left thumb is about ¼ inch shorter than my right thumb. My mom used to tease me that I stunted its growth by sucking it but then she’d say I sucked my right thumb and made it stretch. LOL! Wikipedia gives several labels for it: clubbed thumb, murderer’s thumb (further investigation needs to be done as I think it would be interesting to know the origins of that!), potter’s thumb, toe thumb, and finally brachydactyly type D of the congenital musculoskeletal abnormalities, which just means I was born with one thumb small enough to be Thumbelina. I’ve never attempted to hitch hike but I’m wondering which thumb would be more successful.

I know there are more Thumbelina people out there, some of them even have two brachydactyly (why do I keep picturing a dinosaur when I type that word?) thumbs. But double clubbed thumbs would not help me make my point today.

That is, before coming to a conclusion about something we need to get all the facts. If a person describing me only saw the first two photos, they could say, “Anita’s wrists aren’t the same size.” Or they could look closer and get out the measuring tape and realize it’s all about the thumbs.

There is something else about me with a tendency to get misconstrued. It’s even less evident to the naked eye than my thumbs. I’m an introvert. Doesn’t mean I’m shy or timid or that I don’t like people. It does mean that my energy level depletes quickly when I’m with people. I re-stock my energy by getting into my own head. So I love being with people but in shorter time frames. And while I prefer smaller groups, larger groups are doable if I can take breaks.

Sometimes when I’m in a large group of people and everyone’s talking at once—you know what I mean, girlfriends, we’ve all got something important to say and we just can’t wait to say it—I start to feel overwhelmed.

You ever see a little kid start crying in a room full of people and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for it? That was me. First day of VBS with my grandma’s church. Mom dropped me off and went home. Grandma, being one of the Cookie Ladies, wasn’t involved in registration. I felt so proud, not quite six years old and I was going to do this all by myself. Gave my name and answered the questions of the lady filling out the little card. Allowed my name tag to be pinned on my shirt. Followed directions to stand in that line. Looked at the crayons another little girl showed me.

And then suddenly I became aware that the room was bursting with kids, boisterous kids, happy kids, not a single one being mean or anything, but what could I do but inexplicably burst into tears! I couldn’t explain what I was experiencing to any of the adults who came running. I just knew I needed to “g-g-g-go h-h-h-h-home. My mommy needs me to h-h-h-help take care of my ba-a-a-by sister!” Eventually they located Grandma who took me with her to the kitchen where I helped her set out the cookies for snack time. When I’d calmed down she asked me if I’d like to see what the other children were doing—she’d come with me and be with me the whole time. Once I’d seen how they were all gathered in small groups around tables doing crafts (Oh, boy! Crafts! I’m there!), it was a piece of cake for me to stay with them, instead of with Grandma.

Retrospectively I’ve identified what that was all about. Changing the labels of “Crybaby” and “Scaredy-Cat” to “Excited Little Introverted Girl on Sensory Overload” is very healing.

Although on occasion I still cry when I’m with people (now for entirely different reasons—I mean, when hearts are being shared some discussions are just going to be five-Kleenex rated), I’ve learned to take a break without even leaving the room. I call it “zoning out”. It might mean that I close my eyes. Or my eyes will stay open while I retreat into my thoughts. I block out what is going on around me.

The awkward thing about this is that I’m not always aware that I’ve zoned out and my face may have an expression that could be interpreted as incongruent to my environment. I might even make a “huh” sound as I follow my own thoughts. But those around me could assume I’ve indicated an opinion about what’s being discussed. Oops!

Hopefully if you’re with me, or maybe with someone else you know is an introvert, you’ll ask clarifying questions. If you do, you’ll always get a thumbs up—little brachiosaurus and the other one—from me.


  1. laughing delightedly over this post. And identifying with you right down till we get to the thumbs. (no difference in size on my thumbs) I zone out quite frequently myself and wish people understood it better. ;)

    1. You must have read this right after I posted it and closed down for the night! Thank you, sister, for commenting. I'm tickled it made you laugh. I giggled a time or two while writing it also. :D

      I'm hoping that more people will understand introversion better as well. Very grateful to be understanding it better for myself!

  2. My thumbs are the same as yours lol

    1. I've never "met" anyone with the same kind of thumbs as mine before. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know. :)

  3. Ha! I have the same problem. My right thumb is fat & short. Left is "normal".

    1. Hi Denny! Welcome to Club Thumb. Glad you took a moment to introduce yourself! :)