Thursday, December 17, 2015

the "INFJ Door Slam"












One thing that INFJs tend to do is read a lot about their personality type. Because we are rare, that also means we are difficult to figure out. So reading to try and understand ourselves simply goes with the territory.  Today I was reading about the “INFJ Door Slam”. Here is part of what I read:

There’s this thing called the “INFJ Door Slam.”  People talk about it.  Other personality types trash it, but few people try to explain it in simple terms.  It’s different for everyone, no doubt, but in simple terms…
The INFJ door slam is what happens when we are burned out by unresolved emotions, so we resolve the issue by deciding that the relationship is over.
INFJs are deeply emotional creatures.  We don’t feel as much as it looks like we do (that’s mirroring, which is a whole other topic), but when we feel…we feel deeply and fully.  That means that we burn out.  If we are emotionally toyed with, abused, or overloaded, and there is no end to the emotional assault in sight, we have to do something.  Unlike some other types, we cannot simply live with or ignore that emotional onslaught.  We crave resolution.  If we cannot get it - whether it is denied or the situation is just ignored - we resolve it ourselves.  Frequently, we resolve it by ending the emotional ties that overloaded us in the first place.  The INFJ door slam is not some abusive act of anger.  It is not an act of revenge.  It is an act of self-preservation, and once those emotional ties are severed, it is almost impossible to re-attach them.  If your INFJ is angry or crying, things can be repaired.  If they’re coolly friendly and ambivalent…you may have a door slam problem. 

I’m not one to burn bridges. I find that idea lacking grace – and I don’t see that in the gospel. So the attitude of this door slam, almost a “you are dead to me” mentality is part of my personality type I don’t particularly identify with. Most of this is because I find it difficult to connect with people, so when I do connect I don’t want to let that go easily. I have a small amount of friends I am close with, not a large amount of friends I share everything with. I invest in that small number of people, and to slam the door to them after investing all that emotional energy seems like a terrible thing to do, to them and to myself.

However, if you read between the lines of this short description, you will see that the door slam is about resolution. I really zeroed in on this today, because when there is something in my life that is open-ended, it feels like torture (for a first world basic white girl, anyway). There have been times in my life where there is no resolution and it actually feels like tiny bugs are crawling under my skin when I think about it: this lack of knowing – this lack of understanding. It’s emotionally painful for me when something isn’t resolved, and especially when I can do nothing to resolve it myself.

So in a way, forcing a resolution is like a door slam for me. I did this a few months ago, hoping for very different results than I got. It wasn’t intended to be a door slam – it was actually an act of reaching out, meant to reassure but also to elicit a reaction when nothing I’d done up to then had garnered one. This type of reaching out was extreme for me, but I was desperate. The tiny little bugs of an unresolved friendship were crawling and crawling and one night I just couldn’t take it anymore. The other person held all the control and I was frustrated that I was being held in limbo, when the last words said to me were, “I just need some time to figure this out.”

I was in a holding pattern for a long time, and I honored that request for time for months. And then my INFJ door slam came in the form of a forced resolution, which resulted in a lot of misunderstanding. But when a person refuses to communicate and I, the over-communicator, is communicating too much, I felt I had one last choice. So I resorted to it.

I regret it, because it hurt the other person, and they are refusing to allow me to make it right. But on the other hand, I was so relieved when it was all over. I finally had an answer I’d been waiting for months to get… and a 1,000 pound weight lifted from my shoulders. 

I still don’t believe in burning bridges. I believe in grace, and I am still learning what it looks like to extend it the same way Jesus does to me every day. But I’ve learned the unfairness of making someone live in limbo, and so in a way, the door slam is still about grace. For myself.

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