Other people

skySuch very short days, and mostly darkish and overcast, though today was sunny and cold for a change. I went to church and sang in the choir today. It’s nice to be part of something outside myself. Just I get paranoid. At one point, the choir leader talked to the sopranos – there were only two of us – and I was certain he was only talking to my neighbour, and so I got offended, and wouldn’t sing the next song. Well, when I got home, I started thinking. How on earth do I know he was only talking to her, leaving me out as if I wasn’t there? I thought he was only making eye contact with her, and ignoring me. But really – is that a good measure? Maybe he feels more comfortable with her – I’m new after all. He likely was trying to speak to both of us. I’m completely paranoid. Well – I know my social interactions aren’t going particularly well. But I can’t work out what’s going wrong. So I end up angry and worried.

I feel I must have some people in my life, so I’m making these various attempts to be sociable, in ways that don’t feel overwhelming to me. For instance, going to the speed dating for over forties event feels overwhelming. But attending a service and singing in the tiny choir feels doable. But even that is not easy. If I stay alone, I don’t get into these difficulties. But – then I stay alone.

I have not re-connected with E since our last outing about a month ago. I don’t feel much impulse to call her. We really have almost nothing in common. But then, here I am, mostly friendless and alone. Yet being with a friend who is not really a friend is not worth so much either. At least this way, I’m honest about who I am.

Ron never says much about my lack of a social life. I know, as a therapist, he considers connections important. However, mine are not working out. I have decided that I tend to try to connect with the wrong people – people who have difficulty connecting with others in one way or another. That feels very familiar to me. But what I need to do is connect with people I genuinely like, people who have some self-confidence perhaps. People who are somewhat comfortable with feelings. But I have tended to befriend people who don’t scare me. That’s not really a good enough reason for friendship.

I guess with talking to other people, the dissociative disorder is a problem. For one thing, because I keep the whole side of my life that deals with therapy and trying to heal private, yet that is a huge part of who I am at the moment. I don’t have a lot of events to talk about, because so much of my time is either lost, or spent dealing with exhaustion. I don’t want to talk about my family, as my FOO is f’ed up, and my own attempt at family was disastrous. Not the kind of thing you chit chat about.

The other way the dissociation is a problem is that child parts tend to leak out, and people may judge me as anxious and odd.

Sigh.

So you could say, when someone’s relationships are all foundering, that there is something wrong with the person, not the friends. I am the common denominator after all. There is likely some truth to that. But, that’s not what Ron says. I haven’t asked him bluntly. But what he has said, kind of by the way, is that I’m trying to connect with people who are profoundly unable to connect. Coming down more on the side of I’m picking difficult people, rather than there is a huge flaw in me.

I’m contemplating this as a write it, and it calms me down. I need to find people that actually like a person with feelings, and whom I like. I need to not plunk for the safety of the familiar. That is a more hopeful spin on things than the huge personal flaw theory.

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15 comments
  1. Catherine Hicks said:

    No there really isn’t anything wrong with you. You’re feeling sad, lonely and isolated which are horrible feelings, I know from my own experience. You’re also courageous enough to join a choir which is a really good thing to do. I’m learning that I have to be really kind to myself when I have these kinds of feelings. Take heart, you aren’t alone.

    • Ellen said:

      Kindness is always a good idea. Thanks Catherine.

  2. Gel said:

    I hear you and resonate with many aspects of what you say….I “resonate” in that it sounds familiar and understandable.
    When I’m around people, I try to put something out their way that is authentically positive even while I know I’m “failing” at other stuff. I can’t help the other stuff that inevitably comes out around people in social situations….I just hope they can see something positive in me that they want to relate to. I try to remember that every one – even seemingly normal and successful people – have a lot of junk they also have to deal with.

    I hope that people see my intentions and appreciate that. If they do, then those are usually the people who I want to relate to anyway.

    Something that I am just wondering about you Ellen is what are you passionate about?….what is fun and how does your creativity like to come out?….. Because it seems that the difficult stuff can take over and be our whole life. I know I feel that way sometimes. but lately I’ve been aware of how precious little time there is in life (being 55y and being around an 80 year old who is wise successful and kind…and yet he is aging and unhappy) So it makes me aware that while I have some life and time left I want to do something I love and not be so uncumbered by all the “work on myself that needs to be done”…..I will keep ‘working’on it, but want to also be a creative being.

    I’m just blathering here….hope you don’t mind.
    xxoo

    • Gel said:

      Also love the photo….clicked on it and got a huge version.

      • Ellen said:

        Thanks. I like this one too. 🙂

    • Ellen said:

      Not sure what you mean by putting something their way that’s authentically positive? You mean, you compliment them? Or if you’re feeling like crap, you comment on the nice weather or something like that?

      As to passion. I enjoy some music, some books. I like sitting in cafes and feeling part of life. Mainly, I need to struggle to survive. I’m needing to find work, and once I have it, I struggle to have enough energy to do it every day, plus take care of myself. There’s not a lot of room left for creative projects. I think in my particular circumstances, I do need to continue trying to get better. Being in parts is a serious problem. Yes, I’m also getting older, but these are the cards I was dealt. If I focus on the positive, as has been recommended to me many times by friends, well, I’ll still be older, and not really better. My path is this path I’m currently on.

      • Gel said:

        I mean I don’t make something up that I don’t feel – like just being “nice”. That’s what I mean by authentically positive. I just try to find something I honestly feel positive about. There is usually something even if it’s only tiny. I don’t always succeed. It’s an aim. And yes even if it’s just about the weather…that’s good enough sometimes.

        I most certainly don’t mean to be telling YOU that you should “be positive” . Sorry if it came across that way.

        Your path is yours and I don’t mean to imply you should do anything different than you are.

        • Ellen said:

          OK, thanks for sharing about how you build social connections – that’s valuable.

          No problem. thanks Gel.

  3. Cat said:

    I understand the paranoia toooo well and I can also be sensitive to your sort of situation when we feel someone is ignoring us. It usually does turn out to be untrue but feels so real at the time.

    I always admire your courage in stepping out, but I have mixed feelings about your focus on finding “friends”. When we’re struggling to step out, it’s important we find the people who make that process easier. I agree, E doesn’t seem to fit the job spec I imagine finding more “meaningful friends”… the ones who are easy and comfortable and self assured… will come as you continue through your therapeutic journey. Try not to feel frustrated for not YET meeting those special friends… they are there, it’s just you haven’t met them yet. Being in the choir is a huge step towards feeling more comfortable around other people. Sitting with that is bound to reap the benefits soon.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, at the time, it never even occurred to me that what I thought was happening might not really be true.

      Re friends – By people who have some self-confidence, I didn’t actually mean socially self-assured as you’re describing. I meant something else – people who have enough confidence that they don’t need to control others, for instance. Qualities like this. I don’t care too much about social self-confidence. I don’t have it – why should i demand others do? is how I see it.

      I appreciate your point about needing to wait – it’s a good one. From reading your blog, I get the impression you don’t have many social contacts either at the moment, but I don’t get the feeling you are troubled by loneliness the way I am. For me, loneliness is a huge painful reality that I need to deal with somehow. For now though, just having a few people that are acquaintances does help.

      Thanks Cat.

      • Cat said:

        Lol… I’m not sure I said self-assured in a social confidence sort of way. I meant exactly as you describe; self-assured and comfortable with themselves.

        There was a time when I felt my ‘aloneness’ as a very lonely experience. I’m not sure if I got used to it or maybe I’m just in a massive avoidance state, but yes, I am comfortable with it (at the moment!). At the back of my mind, I kinda envisage that, as I start to change, so might my attitude to connections… mmm… an interesting thought 😉

        • Ellen said:

          Thanks for clarifying. And I’m betting, you might start to feel lonely once again as you change. Not that I’d wish you to feel bad. But, feeling lonely might be a spur to new (good) relationships. Just sayin’.

          • Cat said:

            I’m inclined to think you’re right, Ellen

  4. leb105 said:

    this sounds great, E… you’ve come so far – I say that with admiration. you’re trying new things, and you’re suspending self-judgment – trying to. (I’m trying new things too at a pace which overwhelms my tendencies to being perfectionistic and to over-think). Your insights about the people you tend to “choose” seem right on target. Perhaps you could have a goal (just of) looking for and noticing people who seem emotional themselves, and who are engaging in the activities you are – taking the critical focus off yourself – and observing your responses to them?

    • Ellen said:

      Hi Laura – I love it that we’re both trying new things, especially with new attitudes. Suspending self-judgement is huge isn’t it? It seems like the first step of any new path if it’s going to help. Just noticing and observing people is a good idea.

      Thanks.

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