Tag Archive | friends

Good day, good people

The universe has made up for my kiddo’s disappointing birthday. Today he is smiling and my heart is happy.

His friend’s mom, one that was invited to his party and forgot to rsvp no, called and invited kiddo to her house today. She was babysitting another boy and thought one more would be fun, the more the merrier.

I dropped him off and their house was huge and beautiful. She apologized for my kiddo’s party, said the mom who attended told her about it, and said she has only had family birthday parties for her kiddos, so she understands it must be so hard. She was sincere.

She had a baby on her hip. Her oldest was the age of my youngest. She looked a bit frazzled, ahhh I remember those days. She was watching the kids more than me while we talked. I felt completely at ease leaving kiddo with her.

Kiddo was going to be there a few hours. I went to pick him up and that mom offered for him to stay even longer, while I go to physical therapy. She said she already called the other mom and the other boy can stay later.

I was so touched! Yes of course he can stay. He was having a great time and would be home alone with big sis watching him otherwise. This was perfect.

Kiddo gave me the biggest smile, biggest hug, and ran off to rejoin his friends. Hurray for good days and good people.

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.

I’ll never be Norm

I have friends now. This fact should be comforting, but it often cause me great distress as I navigate unchartered territory.

I’ll never look forward to joining my friends and living at the bar with them. Although they do often shout my name happily-I will never be Norm. (From cheers in case you are not in US)

One friend planned a surprise birthday party for another friend and invited me and many others in her friend circle. I was happy to get invited, really happy. I made arrangements for kiddos to go to MIL so Hubby and I could both attend.

As the date drew near though, the typical inner hell began to plague me with questions and doubt and anxiety.

What should I wear? Does my hair need colored? Should I get a gift, and what kind of gift? What if I’m late? What if I wear the wrong thing? How late do I need to stay? Am I expected to know something that I won’t know? Will I look like a hermit or a psycho if I don’t know the latest news? What if I don’t recognize someone I have met before?

It was planned to be at a wine bar. OK good, I like wine.

The wine bar is a bit fancier than the bar we usually hang out in, and this friend always makes a fashion statement. so I decide I need some new clothes. All of my dress pants are too tight (curves has given me a bigger waist so far, but not panicking yet, as my metabolism adjusts and I get stronger. It must be muscle it must be muscle. Acually I think I’ve been wearing my sweats and baggies and have not tried to wear dress pants in about a year. Lots can happen in a year) and all my jeans have holes in them or paint splatters. Hubby decides he wants to go shopping with me and get new jeans too. I am annoyed by this but not sure why.

I tell hubby I am feeling anxious and irrationally worried. I tell him I want to stay home. I tell him I don’t feel good enough and I want new clothes but I also don’t feel good enough to deserve spending the money. The last time I bought a new blouse was well over a year ago. And for craps sake I am shopping at jcpenneys. Not nieman marcus.

So there I am. Feeling fat, frumpy, dumpy, cheap and wasteful simultaneously, anxious about being late yet too anxious to make quick decisons.

I look up the wine bar online and check out th
Scene and what people wear. Yup. Def cater to business woman with taste and money. I dont have either.

We arrive at the mall with only 2 hours until go time. I get angry. Now I am afraid I will find nothing and will also be late to the party and ruin the surprise, or miss the surprise if not entirely ruin it. I am angry at hubby for working this morning though I could have gone shopping at any point in the last 3 weeks since getting the invite.

I send hubby to look over there to look for jeans and get annoyed when I have to say my size out loud. I hate my size and pretend I am shopping for my fat aunt. I get the large and am disgusted how my belly pushes the fabric.I get a larger size. Then I want to ask hubby something and he isn’t back yet. I get angry that he didn’t look at anything on his way over there, so we have to walk back to see what is there. I mean really, he should have memorized every item by walking through, right?

I see nothing at the first department store and panic, making me see nothing. I want something cute but not sexy, pretty but not fancy, like business casual, like I care but not too much. And nothing too loud, but also not too plain. I keep seeing crops and capris, and no jeans in sight. I scold myself for not knowing this was the wrong time of year to shop for jeans. I like the capris but it is a very cool day and I already have nice capris.

we go to the other end of the mall, and find nothing there either, but because everything there started at $44. for a t-shirt. sorry no can do. I tried on 6 different pairs of jeans, all the same size, and they ranged from barely making up to my knees to being so baggy I could do Hammer Time. Why don’t they use measurements in women’s clothing like they do in men’s? Now I start hating clothing manufacturers too.

I get upset and yell at hubby that we shouldnt be at a mall.

He asks me why I’m yelling at him. I yell some more and tell him i already explained that I would and I know it doesn’t make sense but I’m scared and angry right now.

Telling him how I feel made it seem normal. I was still fat and had nothing to wear but I was feeling less like a freak.

We go back to the first store and really start looking this time. None of those clothes were there 10 minutes ago. Really. I see clearance racks full of all kinds of cute items. I find my jeans, a bit stretchy to make them soft and comfy but not too much. I find a cute blouse, black and white so I can mix/match easily. A pushy sales lady tries to convince me I really do like this skirt that I attempt to put back on the rack, and I keep saying thank you, that’s ok, I’m fine. ratio of sales ladies to shoppers is 4:1 and I go into evasive action and avoid eye contact.

Now I panic again and feel selfish. I spent all this time shopping for my own clothes and did not get a gift for the birthday girl. This is all Hubby’s fault. Why didn’t he look for a gift while I was trying on clothes? I get angry and sweaty. He looks scared, but he says he saw some pretty jewelry over there . . .Yes! of course! My dancer friends love big jewelry. I pick out a pretty silver bracelet with concentric squares, also on clearance. Woot!

So we get my jeans and blouse, 2 pairs of jeans for hubby, a polo for hubby, and a bracelet for $100. I am extremely happy for about 2 seconds.

I see the time. We are supposed to be leaving home, not leaving the mall at this time. We’re going to be late. I hold back vomit and get blurry vision.

We rush home, I take a college shower, get changed, quick makeup and hair brushing. Hubby prepares gift while I get ready (I didn’t even ask him to! he is thinking efficiently now! I am happy for another 2 seconds.)

Do I wear cute summer shoes? How far do we need to walk? my cute shoes make my limp stand out and I usually lose a shoe with slightly less than Cinderella-like elegance. If I walk slowly and not too far, I can wear cute shoes. But I can’t find the cute ones, so sensible it is.

We arrive at the wine bar 10 minutes later than I wanted to, but before the birthday girl! I am so happy! for 2 seconds. Everyone else is there, and they expect hugs. I make the rounds of awkward hugs – I don’t think I will ever enjoy that – and see the only open seats are next to people that I don’t know. Gulp. So thankful hubby came along so I don’t have to pretend to play with my phone.

Birthday girl arrives, is completely surprised to see so many of her friends there and squeals in delight as she opens her cards and gifts. She loves the bracelet and puts it on right away. I get extra hugs. I am happy that I made her happy and shared this moment with her. And then I don’t know what to do or say. Everyone is chatting and laughing and I have nothing to say. I’m not interested in what I overhear, and pretend to laugh when everyone else does although nothing seemed funny to me. I check my face often to make sure I am smiling – because parties are fun, dammit!

We order tons of wine, which helps some, and we order an amazing dinner, which helped a bunch, and then I counted the minutes to when it was too early to ditch. I caught up with everyone I already knew (Yes the new job is going well, yes the kids are happy school is almost over, did you hear from that guy you liked, I really like your shoes, blah blah blah on and on), met new people (oh you’ve know her since high school, how great, oh you have a job too? how great, oh you have kids too? how great, oh we have so much in common being human and all and friends with the same person, wow)

I admire the metal ceiling and read the wine list a hundred times. I admire the artwork. I see everyone laugh so I join in again.

I really do like people, and care about them. I just don’t understand what is supposed to be fun about ‘hanging out’.

Pieces of an unfinished puzzle

Pieces of a puzzle

Pieces of a puzzle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think I may have found a clue to my holiday misery, a piece of the puzzle anyway. After reading and speaking to my therapist, I was encouraged to examine the darkest recesses of my mind and see if I could find a trauma related to the holidays specifically. At first I came up with a few slights, where I had been dismissed as nothing, but those were fairly routine and I have so many examples of that.

Like I remember one Thanksgiving (I’m thinking I was about 6-8) where I worked for weeks making decorations, centerpieces, greeting cards, posters, place cards – you name it. I had hand drawn turkeys, pumpkins, cornucopias, fall leaves. I had written personalized poems for everyone in my family. (surely not my best work, but I remember working hard to come up with rhymes for turkey and something about gravy yummy but murky) I taped my pictures up all around the house and on the windows. I wanted our house to look happy and cute like all the other houses. I was looking forward to our big day together. I delivered the cards to each person and recall their responses to my days of planning. My mom was busy cooking and set it down without even opening it. My brothers laughed at my poems and called it stupid, and kept repeating the turkey-murky, making fun of it. My mom flipped out about the ‘mess’ I made and told me to take down all the decorations. She scolded me especially for the ones on the windows, and said “get those off before anyone sees”. I’m still not sure why that bothered her so much. I remember crumpling each piece I had so lovingly designed and tossing it in the trash. At dinner, everyone put their plate right on top of the place card like it was in the way. Strange though, I can’t remember my father’s response or if he was even there that day.

Sad? Yes, but so normal for me that I don’t count this as trauma. I was either invisible or a bother to them all. I preferred being invisible.

The next one is a bit worse, and I had a good cry with this one. I’m realizing I was never allowed to grieve as a child, and I think I have so much unfinished business. I knew I had to process the active abuse, but I’m finding that the road to peace requires closure for all the emotions I was not permitted to express.

My childhood best friend, my neighbor, died a few days before Christmas when I was about 7-8 (woah, this may have been the same year as the earlier memory, but I’m not sure). I was told the news like you would tell someone they had toilet paper on their shoe. My mom stopped me as I was running through the dining room to go to the computer and blurts out , “Hey, ‘your friend’ passed away, so you can’t play over there any more.” Mom turned around and went back to what she was doing in the kitchen. I stopped in my tracks and just looked at her back, trying to understand her words.  She was my best friend for as long as I could remember, and it didn’t matter to me that she was 72. There were no children on my street to play with. Every day I went to her house after school. We played cards, barbies, watched TV, read books, gardened – you name it, I did it with her. She had a glass coffee table that was perfect for drawing, and I loved to lay under it and look through it to see the rainbows in the corners. She had a special table with edges that was just for jigsaw puzzles and we were always in some stage of working on one. I even loved that she was quirky and odd. she called her sofa a davenport and kept a blanket on top of it that we couldn’t use, you had to get a blanket from her bedroom chest if you were cold. She had a mini window shade she pulled down on her TV screen to protect it from sun fading. She had different shoes for wearing in different rooms, even 1 pair just for getting the mail. I realize now she must have felt grandmotherly towards me, but not knowing any of my grandparents like that, and not having any friends my age, she was simply my best friend.

She got me from school when I was sick and my parents were working, and always had a bag and tissues in case I felt queasy on the ride. She told me I was smart and funny and we always laughed together. She loved my handmade cards and poems and hung them up on her wall. She gave me great big hugs and I didn’t mind her bony shoulders digging into me. She always smelled like apples, her favorite snack. Every day she would make me a cup of tea and we would share a granny smith apple, we both loved the tart shock and would giggle about it. I thought her white hair was soft and beautiful. She had a tapestry calendar on her wall with the names of the months and holidays in it that she let me move a pin from month to month. I loved her. We had a puzzle half way done over there, how would we finish it now? I had made her a gift, a big paper flower with curly ends, it was in the special safe place in my closet. I also had a box of her favorite licorices. How could I give it to her? What would I do after school now? I had so many questions, and only a back turned towards me. I knew there would be no one to answer my questions, that no one wanted to deal with my questions.

I realize now, that this is someone else I never got to say goodbye to. Just another hole in my heart. We did not attend the services or funeral. I simply never saw her again and never went to her house again and we never spoke of her again. She was just gone. I hated the new neighbors that eventually moved into her house and hated their big, dumb dogs for destroying her house and yard with their jumping and digging. I couldn’t look at her gift, I just let it sit on my closet shelf forever, invisible like me. I must have stuffed down my sadness deep into that pit where I kept my true self. I don’t think I ever cried for her, so I have done that today and will do some more I’m sure. She was so good to me and I loved her and missed her for so many years.

Christmas itself was cold in my house. My brother and I would climb up into the attic and fetch the tree and ornaments each year, and put up that tree. Dad was really particular about the decorations and insisted on a certain tinsel that mom hated. He was the only one allowed to put on the tinsel so it would be done right. December 1st a wishlist would be hung on the wall for each of us to write what we wanted, with a budget clearly posted. Christmas Eve, we usually went out to eat at Pizza Hut, and then would watch TV until Christmas, right at midnight. At midnight we would all open our gifts, find exactly what we asked for, and stay up all night playing with it, each of us alone in our rooms. Everyone slept in on Christmas Day and it was like every other day then, nothing special, and each of us all alone with a new toy. No surprises. I always wondered why getting what I wanted felt so empty each year, but now I know it was because I had no one to share it with. Back at school I would tell everyone what I got, just like every other kid, and I’m sure I appeared to be normal and that I had a great holiday break.

Handling Kids’ Social Life Let Downs

My heart is heavy and I am confused. I don’t exactly know how to handle today’s events.

My kids have become good friends with a neighbor 2 houses away. All last summer my kids went there or hers came here practically every day. All of my kids, and all of her kids. A few different ages but all close enough it was working well. I thought.

They invited my kiddos over today to play in a wading pool, just to splash about. Apparently while the mom was inside, my preschooler decided to go down the slide all wet, and slipped off and scraped his back. Not badly, but enough to make him cry. The mom tried to send him home, but he refused, so she sent his brother to come get me.

I went over to find a very sad boy sitting on a towel. The mom said she was sorry, but she didn’t want this kid to come over anymore. She said she has lots going on inside the house and can’t be bothered to come running out every time a kid cries. She said the older kids are still welcome as they are ‘self-sufficient’. The worst part was she said all of this in front of my little guy and broke his heart. And mine too.

I brought all my kids home, not just the youngest, and now I don’t know what to do with a devastated little boy – or what we’ll do with the rest of the summer. I will not send the older kids over and leave him home crying and hurting. I guess I can just let hers (all of hers – even the smart mouthed older one) come over here for a while, because I am more than willing to run outside if someone cries. And I guess also, I am happy she let me know she is not really supervising them, so maybe this is for the best anyhow. Just don’t know how to explain all that to a rejected preschooler.

I’m terrible at making friends, and don’t know how to do this for my own kids. I was ecstatic that we now have 3 houses within 2 blocks with kids they can play with. Well, I’ll guess we’ll be OK with 2 houses. And maybe that mom will change her mind after she’s had a break. Trying not to overthink this or take it too personally. Trying.

 

Embracing Vulnerability

I discovered Brene Brown at http://www.ordinarycourage.com/ when I noticed the badge at http://healingmutti.com/. Thank you! I have added the badge to my page, as I think it is very powerful. The notion that we choose to live wholehearted or not. I feel that is true.

About a year ago, I made a choice to open my eyes and my heart and start actually living. No more hiding. Just like the quote above from Brene Brown, I had absolutely given up on love and belonging and joy. I never gave life a chance. I was so used to being the victim that I did not know how to be me. Hope was no longer even a glimmer, and life felt like a punishment.

How can this be? How did I get there? How could I have a husband, lovely children, a house, a dog, a decent job – all this – and feel like I was nothing? More precisely, how did I feel nothing? I went through the motions every day, appeared to be a mom, wife, employee, and people even praised me, but it all meant nothing, since I knew inside I was worthless.

At the root of it, I discovered I was lonely. I have a job where I can work 100% from my home, so I have always been home with my kids. My husband works long hours – he gets up and leaves before we wake up, and comes home very tired, often after we have already had supper – too tired to give us his attention or affection. I had no friends. None. I only spoke to family, coworkers, and secretaries – and usually only on the phone.

For the first several years of motherhood, I had no car, and would walk to the grocery store and parks with a stroller or wagon full of kids. I handled (still do) every detail of managing our family. My husband expects trusts me to take care of every decision, from paying bills, arranging doctors, schools, repairs, meals – as well as work 20-30 hours a week while kids are here too, clean, do laundry, yardwork. EVERYTHING is my responsibility. So my husband works hard and supports us financially, but he can be cold or hot tempered, making us wary to bother him.

So the thing I now think is strange, and never used to, is that my husband has no friends. Never did. I was 17 when we met and started dating. I know why I had no friends, they all abandoned me when they found out about my abuse. I latched onto him as the only person I could trust. I never questioned why he didn’t have any friends. It was like all he needs is me, and that felt great way back then, and he wanted me to be the same way. I never recognized how he liked having me to himself and how slowly he cut me off from everyone. I would be invited somewhere in college and my early years as a new teacher, and he’d say he didn’t want to go, so being polite, I declined for both of us. This continued until there were no more invitations.

For 8 years, I barely left my house, really only to run errands. I spoke to no one except my kids on a daily basis. Interactions with husband were typically brief and strained/rushed, as I was afraid to bother him – he worked so hard, and afraid to set off his temper. (which I now know is verbal abuse) I never knew why I made him so angry (yes I blamed myself – ugh) and always tried to keep things peaceful.

Skipping ahead to present. I have some friends now, (though it is difficult for me to accept and trust them). I get out of the house to do my own thing weekly, sometimes more. I volunteer, I work, and sometimes I just go out and have harmless fun with a great group of women I met through performing together at festivals.

I am speaking up to husband, not letting him yell at me or kids any more. He is trying. We are working though it, but I just don’t feel attached to him. And I wonder if this is somehwat normal after being together 18 years anyway. I would never cheat on him, and I’m not even interested in finding someone else. I need to find me first.

Baa Baa Black Sheep Have you any Friends?

Come on, don't I look loveable?

Possibly just as devastating as being abused, is the social/emotional effects. Some of the effects are real, and some are imagined perceptions of how we think others feel about us, but both are equally painful. Let me explain.

After 16 years of enduring my father’s abuse, I finally was able to get away from him and tell my mom and siblings what had happened. I was never sure if they believed me right away. Everything I thought was so obvious, was only obvious to me, as what he did left no visible marks on my body, only in my soul. It is fairly common for abusers to selct and isolate one child. So asking my siblings to suddenly change their view of how we grew up was a bit too much to swallow. My mom, recently divorced from my father, knew about his darker side, but never knew quite how dark it was or what he was capable of. But my siblings, who suffered mainly from his indifference, not direct abuse, wanted to believe their little sister, but also just could not put this only face on the one they called Dad.

They asked me if they should stop talking to him, throw him in jail, or what? Well, the caseworker assigned to me decided that pressing charges would only cause more pain and never end up with a conviction – my word against his – so he got to go on living his disgusting life in freedom, just without me any more. The question then became, do we invite him to family dinners? Our weddings? Christmas? He’s still our dad. I agreed with them – then. I did not have the strength to do anything else.

So then I thought, if they can pretend, why can’t I? As long as I don’t live with him, he can’t hurt me any more, right? Wrong. Way wrong. His emotional abuse continued for years after I moved out, until I finally made it stop. To this day he still attempts to control, belittle, and discredit me as being a silly girl that exaggerates, even lies, to get attention. I no longer take the bait. It took me having my own kids to realize my true innocence in it all and just how terrible everything he did to me was. Although saddened by it all, I am no longer so emotionally invested. I have moved on. He is like a stranger to me.

But I still have the emotional scars. I will never completely trust anyone. I always look for ways people may be lying or trying to hurt me. I assume others do not like me and have trouble making friends. I am always the first to apologize, thinking I have caused whatever the problem may be. I always thought I was bothering people, so remained silent unless spoken to.

Last night a new friend called me to invite me over for dinner. Not to cook. Not to entertain. (I’m a musician) Not because we are related in some way. But because she wants to spend time with me. ME! I have not had a true friend since I told my dirty secret 18 years ago. I used to say my husband was my best friend, but now I’m not so sure of that anymore for reasons that come out in later posts. My high school friends abandoned me, told by their moms they could not associate with me any more. I agreed, I wasn’t good enough for anyone. I did not make any friends in college or the years after, which again I’ll save for later.

Here is a link to a great psych blog, and article about not fitting in.

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapist-within/2011/12/feel-like-you-dont-fit-in-learning-to-celebrate-your-secret-self-help-therapy/