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Isolation

I have been isolating myself again, or still. It seems to be getting worse, and I don’t care any more. Being social is no longer a goal, short term or long term. I am not going officially hermit…yet. Though I would if I could. The only thing stopping me from slipping away into my own world is my kids. 

As I near the end of my therapy program, I have done some even deeper thinking than usual if that might be possible. I am thinking I am done changing to be accepted or make others happy. (Except my kids, they are always the exception and I will endure whatever is needed for them) If others don’t find me acceptable I am finding I don’t care. I prefer to be alone and at peace. I have no need or desire for friends. I am done trying to force fit myself into some model that works for others. I am content being invisible. It is only when I try to fit in that it pains me when I cannot. I have never enjoyed what others enjoy, even when I am included. Shopping is a tortuous necessity. I know nothing of fashion and dress for comfort and function and value. I hate wasting money. I feel most things most people have is a waste of space and money. I admire beautiful things but feel content to visit them in nature or museums, no need to own them. I have no need for touch or affection. I would prefer no one ever touched me ever again. I continue to adapt, to try to be okay in a world that disagrees with me on nearly everything. Everything I am ‘supposed’ to be, I am not. I am done trying. I won’t run away or become the eccentric oddball everyone talks about. No, I choose door number 3. I shut up. Keep to myself. Try not to bother people and try not to let them bother me.

How do hermits make friends?

How to increase your support network?

How to come out of hiding?

How to find people to trust, people to like, people to talk to?

How to find people who care?

How to find people willing to help?

I have all of these questions lately. It has become painfully clear to me that one of my largest issues and reasons I continually slip down the rabbit hole of despair is that I have no one to talk to. That’s why I started this blog actually, so many years ago, and it has helped, but it isn’t the same as seeing and hearing people in real life, in real time.

This point was hammered home to me repeatedly in classes in the psych ward stay – they gave us worksheets to fill out with 10 blanks to list all the people in our lives we trust, talk to, interact with on a daily basis, that know us and could help us.

Mine was blank. I sat there staring at a blank paper and holding back tears as everyone else listed “my mother, my dad, my sister, my brother, my friend Joe, my neighbor Mary, my friend, my friend, my friend…..”

My world is so small and my isolation is enormous.

I had people that I went out with, that we performed together, laughed and had fun together, but we never talked. My family is so painfully dysfunctional I had given up on sharing anything or remotely relying on them. Hubby’s family is emotionally repressed or explosive and not people I can open up to. All my high school and college friends drifted away from me and it hurt too much to keep trying to find friends. I gave up decades ago.

So I’ve only had my counselor. That’s it. One trusted confidante that I have to pay and schedule a 1 hour visit.

All those online dating sites – are there any for friendships? Seeking intelligent, open minded women ready for deep philosophical discussions involving the latest neuroscience and psychology too. Seeking honest, yet gentle and non-judging, opinions and guidance. Seeking warm shoulders to cry on occasionally. Seeking happy voices to share funny stories. Seeking women who don’t mind that I only have 1 pair of sandals each summer, that my nails are never painted, that my house is a mess, that my garden is dead and full of weeds, that my tired eyes show a persistent sadness if you look too closely, but my soul shows a persistent humor and style if you don’t scare it into hiding.

Otherwise, I am seriously looking for suggestions on how to get back into the world and create authentic connections and start letting people know the real me. maybe.

Friends like broccoli

Five minutes of anxiety. Thats all I felt on the way to party. Getting ready I felt annoyed with myself because my favorite denim shirt was not where I thought it was and my flannels are way too casual and too warm for the evening.  And all of my other tops have become alarmingly tight around my middle – damn dryer. Hubby helped me look through the sorted but not yet put away laundry baskets.

He found the shirt!

He was my hero for a shiny yet brief moment of time until I noticed the time and felt the all too familiar tugs of guilt and shame as my inner voice whispered “you don’t deserve to go to a party if you can’t get there on time. Are you seriously late because you got so fat that you only fit into 1 decent top? You lazy pig, just stop eating already”.

I swallowed that message and headed out the door. We still needed to get something to take. Some drinks and maybe a dessert I was thinking.

My head was in full on assault now. “You’ve known about this party for weeks, how on earth is it that you are now 15 min after the party started and just now thinking of what to bring? Seriously, for shame, you don’t deserve to go to a party. How rude to be so late! What if the food is cold when you get there? What if they all wait on you, watching while the food gets cold? What if we all have to eat reheated food all because of you? You are so selfish. It’s no wonder you don’t really have friends. They only invited you to be polite and you can’t even be polite enough to get there on time.”

I knew enough to simply ignore my head at this point. Like a toddler in full on temper tantrum, I was spewing out irrationality left and right. I recognized this and grabbed the cookies and drinks and headed to the check out all while no one seemed to know there was a meltdown of epic toddler proportions beneath my calm looking smile.

Rush back to the car, and start driving. Drive for about 15 minutes when Hubby says “where does this friend live?” I look around and try to figure out where I am going. I had been so happy to start driving that I was on auto-pilot and not actually headed to a destination. oops. (yes I actually yelled fuck and rolled my eyes at myself in the mirror, but oops sounds so much cuter)

OK, a quick survey, we weren’t too far off course, only added about 5 minutes if I took the next exit. My head almost started in on me about being late and now being later because I’m too stupid to remember how to get from point A to point B and actually remember how to drive – but I squashed it again and turned on the radio. But I felt my heart racing and sweat  brewing.

We made it, and I actually laughed when I saw we were guest # 2, not even close to the latest. I stuck out my mental tongue at my inner toddler as I was greeted with warm hugs and smiles and directed towards the appetizer table. As I filled my plate and grabbed a beer – I felt happy. I did it. Again. I have found that getting through the pre-social anxiety is the worst part, surviving the evening is usually easy after that, just have to get out the door and into the next. We all laughed and ate and had a nice time telling stories, some new, some we’d heard a hundred times over but still laugh at the good parts.

And then a friend left early with her new partner. And all the good feelings were gone in a flash. the mood went from relaxed and joyful to dreadfully concerned and downright pissed. See, this friend is newly divorced, ending a 30 year marriage full of anger and control. 3 months ago she started dating, and 2 months ago she moved in with this new person. And this new person appears to be just as controlling as her ex. The inner circle is pissed. We all see the changes and have tried to warn this friend, but she says she is fine, we are over-reacting. It’s no big deal this person makes her sleep on the couch as punishment when she forgets to take out the trash. No big deal she gave up her puppy because this person doesn’t care for dogs. No big deal that this person makes her go home early every time now, even though she used to be a ‘last call’ kind of girl.

I nodded my head as my friends shared their concern and discussed ways to ‘save’ this friend. I learned the new person came from an abusive relationship and apparently my friend thinks she can counsel and make this person change – if she is patient. It isn’t this new person’s fault, been through so much. Our friend says she is fine. She wanted to go home early. She says she can’t hang out with us so much because this new person feels threatened by us. She says  she can’t call or text us so much because this new person gets angry and jealous and it’s just easier if she plays it cool. No big deal.

This was all way too triggering to think of someone in this relationship, and so deep in the muck that she can’t see the signs. And way too uncomfortable to learn all of this about someone I only see every few months. I wasn’t sure my opinion was worth much, but I could see our friends were truly concerned. I listened and gave my support as best I could, but stood up, getting ready to make my escape as soon as I thought I could.

And then, it got really awkward as I realized that I too must have been the topic of these heated conversations 2 years ago when I was miserable and thought I could hide it. These friends knew, and reached out to me, and pulled me in. A major turning point in my life was when they all ganged up on me, hugged me and said, “You know we love you right? We’re here for you. We mean it.” They offered couches, safe havens, drinks, hugs, and shoulders to cry on. I took them up on each one at some point as I figured out who I was and reformatted my marriage, rebooted my life. I had been stuck for so long, it took these amazing friends to see my sadness – and for them NOT to look away. They could not tolerate my suffering.

And that’s what it is for this other friend now, they can’t tolerate her pain. They know they can only do so much, but believe me, if something needs doing, they will all be there to get it done. and then, once the injured lamb is restored to the fold, we will all go back to talking about nothing and sharing silly stories. I guess maybe they understand that life is serious enough, so we should only be serious when we need to be. No one here talks about work and the boring suckiness that fills all of our lives – when we get together it is all about sharing the joy.

“You look tired – everything ok?” “Well I had a really bad day at work, and a tough week actually” “Yes me too” “Yup” “Me too” “Work sucks” “Fuck it” “Yup” “Yeah it sucked but we’re here now” “yes” “Alright” “Awesome” “who needs a drink?” “I love this song” “Remember when we heard this song and we were driving to . . .”

And that’s it, the work week melts away and the stories begin.

I don’t know. So I guess I had a good time, mostly. I definitely had a time. I experienced a bit of life that would have gone on without me, but since I got off my couch, it went on with me. My inner toddler felt dragged along and confused at times, but went home dazzled by the experience and slept soundly from all that excitement. Those tantrums passed and once I did what I thought I couldn’t or didn’t want to do, I found out it was good for me after all and no where near as bad as I expected. Like broccoli.

Dose of Social Life

I’m going to a dinner party tonight, at a friend’s house. She invited me and Hubby, and about 10 other people. Big enough to be fun, but not so big I drift off and get lost in the corner alone.

I just realized I am looking forward to this party.

I just realized I have no panic or anxiety related to this party.

I know it starts at 6pm but that no one would care if I showed up at 8pm, they’d be happy to see me no matter what.

I’m not going to spend much prep time on hair or clothes, it is just my friend’s house – come as you are.

I’m so happy hubby gets to come too, kids are at grandma’s. So if I need to drift away from the conversation with the group, I have him there to exchange glances and inside jokes. My friends are becoming his friends.

I am ready to laugh. I am prepared to have fun. I don’t how it will start, but someone will get us all laughing so hard it hurts.

I no longer feel like an outsider – but if I look closely, I do feel like I’m on the outside compared to the others in the group. Like a few key members make up the core and I orbit around the extremities. Why? why do I feel like this? Partly because I am invited to about 1/4 of their get togethers. It is apparent that they see and talk to each other daily. They all live within minutes of each other and text constantly. I live nearly 30 min from them, next city over. And I don’t want people calling and texting me nonstop. I’m sure if I were responsive when they do text that I could be in that inner circle. But I like it out here.

I like it a lot. In fact it is perfect. I get exactly the right dose of social life this way – not always alone at home, and not always in the middle of their business. I enjoy catching up with them and learning what I missed. They enjoy sharing stories with me that they can’t share with the inner group because they all already know them.

Such a transformation if you read my earliest blogs in here when I never to spoke to ANYONE. Wow. And how did this happen? I made it happen.

Even though it was terrifying – I put myself out there and made myself vulnerable, and made myself smile, and said ‘yes’ a few times. I searched out people with similar passions – artists, dancers, musicians – and struck gold. We work together to make the arts more accessible to the community, and when we’re done working, we play together too.

 

Friends of my dreams

I think my brain is learning how to comfort me, rather than continuously attack me.

I have had fewer nightmares this year than ever in my life. And even better, I have started having dreams so wonderfully comforting that I wake up feeling loved.

These are very specific dreams, about some dear friends that I had in high school but drifted away from me during the chaos of the year I finally spoke up and moved out of my AF’s house.

I still don’t have true friends, no one I can call or would want to call and talk about my day. I miss the closeness I had with one friend in particular. I have attempted to reconnect with her on multiple occasions, but she lives in a distant country now, and although she will answer my emails, it just isn’t the same. Life moved on and our friendship faded away.

I have had some dreams now where I am living near this friend, and we are partners. In one we owned a bar together, worked together each day and it was so lovely. She looked me in the eyes and hugged me and said how she enjoyed working with me. We would clean up each night, a simple routine, I stacked chairs up on the table, counted the money, balanced the books, took inventory, and then we both sat together having a drink and chatting until wee hours. And then we did it again the next night.

I woke up with such a lovely feeling, as if it really happened. I didn’t miss her so badly after this dream, it was so powerful and real.

I do hope that one day I can find a girl that I can feel so comfortable with like that. I’d love to have someone else in my life that I can trust and love. Hubby is awesome, but he just can’t listen or giggle like a girl.

I have some friends that I hang out with – I couldn’t say that 2-3 years ago. I have a friend that I could ask to babysit and petsit – I didn’t have that 1 year ago.

So I don’t think it is impossible to hope for a true friend to come in to my life one day, but for now, I am content with the warm fuzzy dreams.

Mission Complete: Birthday Girl Ecstatic

We did it. We survived a tween girl party in our home.

Hubby was simply amazing and I can’t thank him enough for helping to make this day so special. He took a day off work and finished the woodwork and flooring in my daughter’s room. He made his wonderful homemade pizza dough and so many topppings so the girls could all ‘order’ their favorite pizza – they loved that! He kept the youngest little guy calm and busy while I tended to the girls.

The girls were quiet at first, being a morning party, so I put on KidBopz radio while they decorated the picture frames. About 3-4 songs played, and as luck would have it, Cha Cha Slide came on. They learn this dance in gym class at school, so they all start looking at each other, but no one starts. So I did! Yes, my tween is not yet a teen, so I could start a dance party without completely embarrassing her. I clapped and hopped and lead them into the family room where they all danced and giggled and for realz got funky with it.

Here’s a video of the song in case you are not familiar. It’s like this generation’s electric slide. I don’t know the kids in the video, just found this as an example so you can picture 6 girls doing this in my family room.

After the dance, they finished their frames and we started the photo shoot. I actually stole some shots while they were dancing and my new camera captured the fun with no blurring! I took individual shots of each girl, and then some group ones where they all had mustaches and serious faces, and some with boas, jewels and feathers. They were all giggling the entire time – I was too!

Then my girl took them up to her room, where they all oohed and aahhed over it, and they made loom band bracelets for each other. Then they played Headbandz, where each girl gets a picture in a headband that the group can see but the girl wearing it does not know what she has. They have to ask questions to figure out what is on their own head. Much more giggling here.

Then we had pizza, a huge hit – Thanks again Hubby!

Then it was time to open gifts. One of the girls gave my daughter a set of BFF necklaces, so they each put one on and my girl looked like she wanted to cry she was so happy, and I left the room and did cry a happy tear or two.

Then it was time for cake and ice cream, and by this time all the girls were acting like best friends, even though they were from different schools and many had just met today.

I printed the photos while the girls ate and chatted, and sent them home with one in the frame, and several wallet sized candid shots.

It was awesome. It was perfect. I am so happy I was able to provide this day to my girl, one she will never forget.

 

Drinking and Speaking Freely

I have some friends that I can go pub hopping with occasionally, and the last time I went, something amazing happened. Again. I love these girls.

We were considerably buzzed and found ourselves in a Denny’s at 1am, needing pancakes and chicken fingers. We were talking about random stuff, when one friend told a story about her dad. It was something cute, something sweet that I can not relate to whatsoever. He is a nurturing, supportive dad that actually looks out for her. She may as well be talking about Santa Claus or unicorns, because I have no frame of reference for parents like this.

Apparently the beer buzz made me forget to shield my face from showing the pain, frustration, and general crappiness I feel when others discuss their amazing parents. One of them noticed, stopped talking, and said, “What?” I said “Oh, nothing, just my father is a major a$$hole and has never done anything like that. Your dad is so great!”

And then my heart raced and I felt a little sick. Did I say too much? Will these friends abandon me now like so many others?

But she didn’t even pause, just said, “Ooo, that sucks. Yes my dad is great, don’t know what I’d do without him” and went on to some other story about “shark-nados” some terribly bad show on SyFy.

I was still a little worried after going home that I had said too much, too negative, too soon.

But it has now been almost 3 weeks, and those friends are still calling me, and if anything, we’re a bit closer now. I don’t know. Maybe she always felt this close and the change is only on my side. I always feel like I am holding back a huge part of me when speaking in these small social groups like this.

It felt fucking amazing to let it out. And more amazing still to have this part of me known and – drum roll please – accepted.

I don’t think I’ll ever share more details than that with them, just doesn’t seem to need it. This is enough.