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socializing

I have been chugging along, therapy less and all. I missed Ron when I was massively triggered from a too long group hike, but otherwise, not greatly missing. Such a change from previous years, when I was constantly aware of his absence for the vacation weeks.

The T I emailed a week ago did get back to me. We’ve been going back and forth by email a bit, with long delays in between. She thinks she’ll have space later next month, but is not sure about an evening slot. I’m not sure whether I’d need evening or not anyway. The fact is, I feel massively guilty ‘going behind Ron’s back’ and speaking to another T. Even though I’m making no progress on the trauma part of this whatsoever. And I remain sceptical that I ever will with Ron, because he doesn’t have the knowledge.

Though it could be some kind of interpersonal issue I guess. But he’s not going to help me with that either.

And yet. He’s bee so faithful. And never condescending, which for some reason seems difficult for therapists. And I’ve learned a lot about my family. To the point where sometimes I feel negatively obsessed by then, full of anger and resentment. Unreasoning anger and rage. I want to work through this and leave them behind. Instead they seem to be an open seething wound in my soul.

I’ve been trying to complete chores and tasks that I let slide when employed. For instance, my towels started dissolving and leaving gobs of fluff all over me, especially noticeable on my face. I realized they were about thirty years old after all. Went off to a big box store yesterday to purchase more. Difficult for me. It sounds silly, but I’d never been to this damn plaza before, just seen it out of the corner of my eye. So that creates this barrier as something that is a difficult task – something I have to gird myself up for. Did that yesterday, purchased four towels. Even on sale this is not cheap. Boring and expensive, that bad combination.

I washed all my pillows and in the process destroyed one of them. I didn’t know you had to wash it cool, and washed it hottish. A mess of lumps. I slept on it anyway and today I woke up with a massive headache, so bad I felt sick to my stomach. So today nothing got done whatsoever….But the headache is quite a bit better, so that’s something. Just these are my last days off and it is a pity to waste them.

I’ve tried attending more meetups, other than the walking. I am giving myself credit for efforts at socializing. I don’t seem to meet anyone very compatible, but I am realizing I’m OK in social situations. I can cope and say appropriate things. I didn’t used to feel I could, so social situations would frighten me. But I’ve learned. However, it’s still an effort to go to one of these events. Today I could go, and I just can’t make myself.

Today I feel rather down. I’ve been trying to find a good book to read. I read about 100 pages, then give up. Suddenly, the book seems useless and I find i have zero interest in finding out what happens. I keep thinking, if I can just find the right book, I will be happy. Maybe it’s not the books.

I need to get back to this alternate T and maybe get on her waiting list. Maybe it’s a good sign that she’s booked up, maybe she’s especially good. She charges 45 more an hour than Ron. Ron’s prices are a little low though. He is very unmaterialistic. I suspect her rate is more average.

Saw bits of the partial eclipse on Monday. I called my ex, and he called my son, and we all went to a local science centre where they were handing out glasses. Of course by the time we got there the glasses were gone. Still. We borrowed from others, and stayed about an hour. Through the glasses, there was an orange sun with a growing bit of moon shadow in front. And the sunny day became briefly darker, though no where near dark with a partial eclipse. I liked being part of a major celestial event, marking the day by going somewhere new, being part of it for a while.

I was a bit bitchy with the ex. I seem to have a lot more resentment of those years together than he does. Of course, I was oppressed, he was doing the oppressing. He wasn’t happy either, but wasn’t left with a huge chunk of anger as I was. I just wasn’t especially nice. I contradicted, I criticized his choice in the restaurant (he has health issues, but that’s not really my business is it). I felt in general out of sorts after the outing, irritated with him and with myself.

In general I’m just bogged down a bit. I suppose depressed. Shying away from groups. My friend E is back from vacation, so we can do a few things together on weekends.

I’m trying to write stories. I feel that I do suck big time. Still. Maybe if I keep at it, I’ll improve? It’s hard. My family doesn’t really tell stories. In fact, they are outstanding for their silence on almost all topics. So why not blame my lack of story telling ability on them? Might as well. Nya ha ha.

 

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I’m still going to therapy every other week. This week was a no session week. I’m trying to remember a week back to our last session. What did we discuss?

I remember Ron did bring up this time that I’m cancelling a lot and wondered why. I just said I wanted some time where I wasn’t triggered, and that sometimes, therapy seems to trigger all kinds of emotions but doesn’t really resolve anything, so that I’m not sure how helpful it is.

Ron didn’t say much. I got the impression he doesn’t agree that we should have fewer sessions, but he didn’t say so.

I didn’t say this, but I also think I can commit to approaching difficult topics every second week, but not every week. I’m willing to sacrifice some days to therapy recovery if it’s not every single week.

I’ve been thinking about how alone I’ve been in my life, and how that’s especially evident now. I suspect one reason I can’t seem to recover from therapy is I have no one in my regular life to help me ‘regulate’. It sometimes is very helpful to have people around, not even to discuss issues with, but just people doing ordinary living. It helps me calm down.

I’ve noticed this at work. I now have the option of working with some other writers at a big table, instead of in my cubicle. I actually prefer the big table. I thought I would hate it and feel horribly exposed, but having little interactions with other writers makes my day feel so much better. Just being able to speak sometimes, or listen to someone else go on about something.

I spent one day in my cubicle at work, and was pretty much suicidal by the end of the day. No one spoke to me. It’s a bit of a bad atmosphere there at the moment as the contract is ending, although we haven’t been told that in any kind of an upfront way. As well, there’s renewed pressure to produce lots of work very quickly. And the PM is no longer friendly to me, maybe because I’m not that fast. I like to think about what I’m doing, and produce quality, and all he cares about is quantity, because that makes his project look good.

When I moved to the table the next day, I had a much much better day. Other people are in ordinary moods, and they are catching. If I want to grumble about something, I can, in a low voice. My mood was so much improved.

So generally I’ve concluded, although I do need some time to myself, in general I do better with people around.

Somehow I’ve ended up pretty much alone. My one friend and I seem to have had a bit of a falling out, unless I’m imagining it, so she hasn’t called in a few weeks. I know I could call her. I have my ex I suppose. He’s very misanthropic and unsociable however.

I feel that I am fairly well liked at work. Chance threw myself and my star co-worker, whom I disliked, together, and it turns out we do OK together. He’s pretty outgoing, and it’s helping me to practice being more outgoing also.

Having people around at work is cushioning some of the blows of work – the contract is not being extended as promised, the PM is asking for impossible quantities of work, and other things. I just think in the same way, if I had people in my life outside of work who were more reliably present, it would help me come out of the bad places therapy puts me into.

I’m not sure Ron can really conceive of my difficulties in sociability. His view is that we need to be authentic with people and have real relationships. But I think we first need to have any kind of relationships. If I have no ability to attract anyone, I need to work on that. I don’t mean attract as in sexually attract, but attract in terms of someone wants me around. And I will not be attractive to people if I’m completely depressed and unable to be social.

I just came back from a birthday tea for my sister at my parents’ house. I can see how my social anxiety developed by watching them. My mother basically doesn’t speak. My father has very set topics that he wants to talk about – his garden, his work when he worked. So everyone dances about him speaking in horrible detail about his garden, as if we were all fascinated by this, to appease him.

Some other guests came, and so the conversation veered to different topics. At that point both my parents stopped speaking at all.

I think the dynamic is that speaking puts you at risk. In my family it’s not safe to have your own life, your own experience and opinions. So no one risks speaking about anything. I do, and I get rejected quite a bit. For example, this afternoon my brother wasn’t veering far afield, but started to talk about how he wanted to plant a miniature rose for his front walk. I suggested a tea rose. Well. My father is obsessed with old fashioned once flowering varieties. My suggestion was completely unacceptable to my sister and my father. Because intelligent people only love the old style roses. It doesn’t seem to be OK to have your own opinion on what you like.

Anyway, I can see where I developed a fear of saying anything that dogged me for my first forty years. I experienced this as not being able to think of what to say, but it’s more that all topics were potentially humiliating, so I kept quiet. Even when keeping quiet was peculiar in the situation.

So now, I can speak, thank goodness. Just I haven’t peopled my life with people who want to hear me and speak back. Wanting people in my life doesn’t have much of anything to do with ‘authenticity’ though, as recommended in therapy. I don’t really want to pour my heart out at this point. I just want some people around who like me.

 

 

Ugh. So now I’ve written Ron an email in an attempt to break through this depression. It helped a bit, that and writing it out here. But he hasn’t responded, so now that is bothering me. I feel so lonely. I said the part about how I feel he’s probably judging me, and of course I hoped to hear back that he wasn’t. Since he hasn’t replied, I figured he kind of is.

I got out to buy veg and meat for supper and lunches. I cooked supper. I sat in the cafe and read my book. I even felt some pleasure, sitting at a small table in the shade, half listening to others chatting, eating a salted brownie and sipping earl grey. It was OK. Better than yesterday, when absolutely nothing brought any pleasure.

Yesterday I was invited to a friend’s barbecue, and I did go. It’s really hard to be social when I’m so depressed, and I feel I didn’t do a great job. These are not really the kind of friends that understand about depression, so I don’t explain what’s going on, just try to cope. I figure being with people might be good. I’ve been trying to be more social after all.

Nothing bad happens. These are all pretty smart people, they’re discussing issues, and travel, and such. I like it best when drinking wine and eating. After the meal, we sit in a small humid sunroom, as it’s started to rain. No one there drinks, though there was wine with dinner. They just discuss. I guess this could be good – to me it’s like they’re very much in their heads though. The talk is not very personal at all. Perhaps I long too much for wine, but also, I long for relaxation, not this endless competitive type discussion that we seem to be having.

A former friend of mine is there. She’s a very intellectually smart person. In the sunroom, I start feeling more and more uncomfortable. I realize I’ve never liked these gatherings where she is. She always seems to need to be the centre of attention – directing conversation, picking topics, being the authority on things. And I’ve always felt uncomfortable that she insists that you agree with her opinions – you can’t have a different opinion and have that be OK.

The two men who are there, new friends of my friend the host, seem mesmerized by this former friend, whom they are meeting for the first time. They start looking at her, and directing all their conversation towards her. She is very  clever. She is a decade older than I am, and so quite a bit older also than these men. I guess she does charm.

I think about this afterwards – isn’t this what narcissists do? They charm at first, and draw you in….But you cannot disagree with them, or they turn nasty. I don’t know. She also has good points – it’s not black and white. She is kind to various people who need help.

I sit there in the sunroom, and grow more and more quiet and distant. I start to feel really uncomfortable. I start to long for my therapist, which is a strange feeling. What would I want him to do? Care about me I suppose. Be there in a human type of way.

Was I envious of this friend, or her broad knowledge and her incisive way with words? I really don’t think so. Could be it was my depression, and I lost my ability to handle social interactions. Or, it could be I no longer want to put up with one person controlling an evening, one person who must be the centre of attention? Where no one could be themselves…… I left early, not even making an excuse, just saying good night.

This theme of needing to be clever, and needing to agree with the dominant person, comes right out of my family background. In there world, everyone must have the same opinions on important matters – differences are seen as threatening.

So. Today I remain by myself. I cannot handle being with others. I just try and feel better. And tonight I am somewhat better. I’m going off to pack a lunch for tomorrow, pull out the laundry, wash up the dishes. The basics.

I guess I seem negative about people. Who do I like, after all? Well, I am getting along with my friend E at the moment. She was the host of this event. I likely disappointed her though with being so quiet yesterday. Still – we are getting along at least. She confides in me and invites me to things.

I think my relationship to my former friend was deeply problematic, and I’m just getting insight into why that was, from my point of view anyway. These are new thoughts for me after all. I’d never thought of her as narcissistic before. I’ve understood where some of her behaviour comes from – she had a deeply painful childhood as well, and so I feel sympathetic to her for that. I was thinking lately maybe I should try to re-connect with her. I miss her insights into books and films. But….I think a narcissist is too problematic for me to deal with. I think I’ll let things stay as they are.

Middle of a long weekend. Some things are better, some other things seem worse. Life goes on.

My last post was about loneliness. So about half of that turned out to be true. The friend with the mental health issues indeed has not contacted me for many weeks. Maybe she is dropping me as a friend. I could call her, and I likely will in a few more weeks. Usually she called me – she had to be in the mood to talk, so mostly, I’d wait for her to call. She is fragile, and I know the way she has handled other people who have said things she found hurtful has been to drop them. So we’ll see.

The other friend though, that I’d thought had found new friends so no longer needed me….OK, we’ve been out together twice since my post, and may see each other again tomorrow. So I was too pessimistic about her. When she phoned me, I brought up our last meeting, where she and her friend didn’t seem to want to hang out with me. She said that wasn’t true at all, however, they had waited for me for a while, and so were ready to go home sooner than I was. So I was half right, there was a problem, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. So I do jump to negative conclusions sometimes.

This friend of mine, E, is an extremely competent individual, with a very good job and an advanced degree. We actually get along best when she runs into some kind of emotionally painful issue. I can listen for a long time, and I don’t judge. I try not to give advice, though, OK, I do give some. Anyway, I feel closer to her when she has issues. Last night we spent time on a patio drinking wine and talking, and it was pretty nice. She thanked me for listening.

So I am feeling a bit more socially connected than I had been. I do miss Ron. He’s back next week, so I’ll see him Thursday. Since my panicky emails of two weeks ago, I haven’t contacted him. He’d offered a check in call if I wanted it for this week, but I didn’t set one up with him. I had the feeling that that might just stir up feelings, and it would be more comfortable to just have no contact.

I had a bad week work-wise. I had a problem at work two weeks ago, which I wrote about here, which a week later came back to haunt me. This terrible manager spoke to me in an angry way every single day last week about this same stupid problem, which I could do nothing about anyway, as I didn’t have the document back. I hated her so so much. This does sound juvenile, but I think she triggers the kid part of me.

On the day I finally got this document back, in order to make the changes she wanted, I had to deal with one of the directors there. She complained about me to him so loudly, the whole department heard about it. I was sitting at my cubicle furious, since this was entirely unjust.

So the next day, Friday, is her last day before a two week vacation. So she pulls me into a meeting room, says I haven’t been looking too happy lately (duh – because you are attacking me every day and I can’t take it), what’s wrong. I buy some time by saying I haven’t thought about how to put this. She launches into speech. She is concerned that my contract is ending and she wants to proceed to get me in there full time. What? Then why treat me like this??

I tell her I didn’t appreciate how she handled things about this documentation mistake this past week (which was mostly caused by her, though I don’t say that). That I don’t function well once she comes over and freaks out. When this problem first came to light, I’d been working all day trying to get a complicated document ready really fast, as it was behind schedule, and that once she came over yelling, my mind just blanked out.

The interesting thing about her is she is not perturbed when I tell her negative things about herself. She says yeah, she should try and be a calmer person, her boyfriend tells her the same. Well – good luck with changing your entire personality (I don’t say this). But I do say I need her to try and approach me in a calmer way.

So after our talk, where she has said things like she was the person who fought to hire me, over doubts of her boss and my predecessor….Who knows. Kind of bizarre. But she’s positioning herself as my big ally at work.

I felt better after our meeting. Which is confusing, because I had just been certain that I would not continue with this job. Then I felt better, after talking to her, though I know nothing will likely change. The thing is, I deeply do not want to start somewhere else again right now. It is so hard to learn a new job, a new body of knowledge, all new people. I’ve done it every six months now for a few years, and I feel I cannot do it anymore.

However. I’ve been deeply frustrated and angry at this job. I takes me so long to recover.

I don’t know what to do. She hasn’t officially offered it to me yet, so I haven’t had to commit. She’s just strongly indicated she wants me in it.

I can’t seem to figure out what i want to do.

Tonight I talked to my son. He’s been completely disabled by what we thought were allergies for a few years now. He’s feeling worse again he said. I got exasperated with him on the phone – he doesn’t seem willing to help himself at all, to look for any treatments at all. I don’t know.

I just now looked up multiple chemical sensitivities, which might be what’s wrong with him. There doesn’t seem to be much you can do for them.

He’s always been all about avoidance, and not about trying to get his body into better health. I always felt that he should look for something that would help his body not be so reactive. That does work with my allergies. However, for MCS, as this is called, that doesn’t seem to be done.

No one has officially diagnosed him with anything. He never was doing terribly well, to tell the truth, so the whole thing is mystifying. It’s not like he had a normal life and was stricken down.

I got angry on the phone, but the truth is, I feel so helpless. I don’t know how to help. He feels if we could set him up outside of the city somewhere, if he was away from polluted city air, he would feel better, and would be able to get a job. He has no training or experience in anything, so it would be some kind of service job I suppose. I have no confidence he would feel better, that he would take care of himself, or that he would be able to get a job. But that is his vision. Somehow, get someone to give him money so he can move out of the city, then his problems will be solved.

I do feel despair when I try to engage with this. I don’t know what’s psychological and what’s physical. It’s been years, without a diagnosis and with no progress at all.

He was always extremely difficult, he picked his father and not me, and has many of his father’s beliefs. His father’s beliefs are not very workable as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know. Maybe it is all physical. Maybe it’s all psychological. The fact is I don’t know how to help him. He doesn’t have so much as a diagnosis – the medical system has not been helpful in the least.

I’m going to try not to dwell on this sorrow. I should try and go to see him tomorrow. He won’t get on public transportation to come to me for dinner, so I must drive up to my parents’ and take him out for a meal. It’s difficult.

 

anxiety2

Art: Anxiety, Tom Atkins

I am a freaked out corporate drone. I feel so done in. We unexpectedly got half the afternoon off, so I’m home with a bit of energy to write. I find work so hard. The social aspect of course. Plus my actual task has a social component to it also, as I need to run and set up meetings, and try to herd people towards particular deadlines.

I have been coming home and having these frantic mental conversations with people at work, entirely in my mind. So ridiculous. Like my mind is trying to solve things for me, when it really can’t. I know it’s trying hard.

Part of the trouble is I’m switching a bit at work. It only happened once where it was really noticeable though, and I felt deeply ashamed the rest of the day. The person I was talking with must have thought I was super anxious I suppose. But this week, anytime I have an unexpected social interaction, I end up answering in this kid voice. I think I’m feeling uncertain there, and unanchored, and so perhaps am switched into kid space anyway, but I don’t notice until someone talks to me.

I am scared no one will talk to me. That’s what happened in my family. Mostly that’s what happens at work, though it’s not targeted at me – it’s more the situation. But I could develop little work friendships, but don’t, because I think, I answer people in this startled little girl voice, which may put people off. I’m trying not to hate myself for it. After all, it’s not something I do on purpose. But people don’t understand about parts, of course. How could they?

There’s this whole issue of ‘good writing’ too. Arggh. My boss has said several times, in my hearing, that I’m a “great writer” with better writing skills than anyone here. I guess he’s trying to be nice. He hasn’t actually read anything I’ve written yet. The problem with this is, his, and the other manager who’se working on my project, ideas about what is ‘good writing’ are the opposite of mine. In their minds, the document they’ve produced before I got there is great writing. It’s the kind of writing where no one dares correct or change anything, because they have no clear idea what it’s trying to say. It’s convoluted, it’s trying to get across ten different concepts in every sentence, it’s using all kinds of legal terminology. To people who work in management, this seems like great writing. No one will ever read that document voluntarily, because it’s so much work to try to understand what it’s trying to say.

I hate that kind of writing, and I don’t agree that it’s good. So I feel I’m a major disappointment, with my plain short sentences and two sentence paragraphs. This particular manager has simply re-written most of what I’ve written so far. It’s OK – the document is coming along, and she does a decent job. But I’m certainly not living up to any fantasy they may have had about great writing. I want to communicate, and to explain – I don’t want to show off how intelligent I am and what long sentences I can produce.

So I feel bad, as if I misrepresented myself as a writer. I’d like to have a bit of a talk about this with my boss, who might understand my point of view actually, even if he does not agree with it. But he’s become too busy to talk to lately, and I haven’t seen him for a week or two. The manager I see more often, but we just don’t get along very well.

And if I have no skill, I feel useless. I’m socially useless anyway. If I have no skill, why are they paying me?

The manager that re-writes everything condescends if we talk. She’s a lot younger. I guess she’s being a manager – managing me, instead of talking with me. Fine. She’s not my boss thank god. However, my boss is leaving end of month, and she’s staying, so she might take over as my boss, which I would hate.

Here’s a stupid social mistake I made. I was eating my lunch in the lunch room, a little early, to beat the rush. As I was half way through, the team I’m theoretically with came in and sat at the next table. They never say anything to me, so I ignored them and tried to read my tablet. Then my boss came in and sat down with them. When he saw me, he said hello, did I want to sit with them? He’s nice like that. He said he’d pull over another table so we’d have room.

So I looked up and was startled. Then I said, oh, I’m almost finished. I actually meant – you don’t have to pull over a table, don’t worry about me, and I’d thought I’d sit for a minute there before the rest of the team got there. But he took it to mean, no, I’ll eat by myself, I’m almost finished. So I stayed and ate by myself, and continued ignoring them.

I really want to integrate a bit more with these people. So what do I do? I’m semi rude to my boss’ friendliness, and I ignore everyone. Stupid. I left as soon as I could. I’m sure it looked like I couldn’t be bothered being friendly. This group is not particularly friendly to me, but I’m not taking advantage when someone is.

I just get startled by things. I’m tense, I don’t respond in friendly ways sometimes. Other times I respond like an excited kid.

Anyway, I’m having social anxieties that are making my life a misery. There’s no built in social connection with this job. The one person I’m working more closely with I don’t click with at all.

I did go out to my ACA meeting last Saturday. It was quite good. I’ve decided I don’t want to go there a rumpled mess of angst and depression. So I wore my newish jeans and good top, I did not look depressed, and I talked just a bit, on not too downbeat a topic. This also is a social occasion, and I want people to relate to me, and they won’t if I’m a mess of depression. I have these stronger aspects of myself that I want to show also. I felt good about the meeting – just sitting there with others who are working on themselves was good. I may not work the steps, but I still am getting something from the meetings. I felt a kind of peaceful energy there at times, just going around the circle of people.

friendsIt’s no secret that I struggle with relationships. Not just big R romantic relationships, but basically all of them. I feel like the term social anxiety was invented just for me. Except that I don’t think it’s some strange brain disease that requires Paxil to cure. It’s based on my habits of mind, related to what happened when I was a child. But, it’s basically my top issue where I struggle consistently.

I have been shedding relationships. Partly through ineptness, and partly because I have changed and friends have not liked that. I met up with a friend last weekend, and it really underlined for me how my perceptions have entirely changed.

I had stopped calling a particular friend, E, and she then called me over the holidays. She asked me what was up, that I hadn’t called lately. I didn’t say much, because it’s not that she’d done anything, it’s more that I don’t think we’re that compatible anymore, which isn’t something worth discussing IMO. She asked did I want to go for a walk, I said I wanted to meet for coffee instead, so we did that. I felt good about that, because a complaint I have about her is that she controls everything – what we do, where we go, and when. So although I would have been OK with a walk, I also wanted a coffee, so I expressed my wishes, and she went along with them. That already felt quite good to me. I think she does tend to seize control if anyone is not sure of what they want, but she is somewhat flexible if you have a firm plan.

So we had an OK chat for half an hour. The next weekend, I’d decided I’d like to see a movie, and I picked one I thought we might both like. My pick was more slanted towards her tastes, but it was still a movie that interested me. So I called her, and yes, she wanted to come. So far, great. I was asking for stuff I wanted, and she was happy I was making a plan.

So about the controlling part of this, I felt better. I was no longer at her beck and call, doing things that didn’t interest me much. I could see how I’d been buying into that, by not proposing my own agenda, and just going along with hers.

But when it came to actually talking, it was rough going. I felt uncomfortable, and instead of blaming myself as per usual, I paid more observant attention to what was actually happening.

First, she was extremely anxious after the movie to rush home, so we kind of jogged to the subway. I asked her if everything was OK – she said she wanted to get home fast and have an evening at home. So what else made me uncomfortable? Well, she doesn’t share much about herself. No problems or feelings. She started peppering me with questions, but didn’t actually want to discuss further anything I said – I’d say something, and then she’d throw out another unrelated question. It seemed like she wanted desperately to keep the conversations going, without saying anything about herself, and without taking in anything I said. So I couldn’t discuss anything I wanted to discuss, because she couldn’t listen and wasn’t actually interested. I’d ask her a few things, to which she only replied very briefly.

I concluded feelings and problems make this friend very uncomfortable. She needs to keep things very superficial. She doesn’t know how to discuss anything, so she tries to control interactions and people so she feels less anxious.

I used to be jealous of another friend, because she’s friends with E also, and I’d always imagined they had this great relationship, while I was not getting along well with E. I really felt it was my fault. For having issues, for mentioning my feelings, for being weird in general. This time, I didn’t think that. I felt sorry for this other friend instead, for having E as a friend who cannot really connect with people. This was a huge shift for me. I no longer blame myself for not having a good friendship with E.

It’s quite amazing when you suddenly see things so differently. It actually occurred to me that maybe E has changed towards me – maybe she’s decided I’m no longer a person she likes. But actually I don’t think so. I think I can suddenly see. Oh. This person does not connect with others. It’s not me. Wow.

Reminds me of someone important. Yep, my mom. The model of a woman who does not connect with people. That’s why E seemed familiar and safe to me.

This is not a venting bitchy post about a friend, though I realize it may come across that way. I’m trying to think about a relationship and how I’m changing in my view of what friendship might be. It might be better. It might be a good time. It might be a mutual give and take. It might not involve so much fear of judgement and so much withholding. I am not going to feel bad about this friendship not working out anymore. I don’t think there’s anything I can do. Except seek distance and look for others who are able to connect, and who want to be around me.

I’m not needing to end this friendship. Maybe I have it wrong. I don’t after all know the insides of E’s head. But if I can be around her once in a while, but not feel bad that we don’t connect well, that’s a big change. I’ll let it be her problem I think.

Art: 1892-94 panel painting by Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1858-1924)

teapotI had a troubling interaction with a friend on the weekend. It is still bothering me and I don’t think we’ll be friends anymore. I wrote Ron about it, trying to work it through, as Friday seemed a long ways away. That made things a bit worse, so now I’m mad at both this (ex) friend and at Ron. This will be a bit whiny, so please skip if you don’t like to read complaints about people.

I met this friend in my group. Probably it’s a bad idea to try and make friends from a therapy group. There were so many simmering tensions, and I think they come back to bite you.

We met at small cafe for tea. It was a charming but difficult location, because it was very loud, so we had to almost shout to hear each other. It was small and full of young people talking.

The last time I’d met her, I had ended up dissociated, and I figured out it’s because she reminds me a lot of my mother. This time, the resemblance was even more strong. Her favorite author was the same as my mother’s, she listens all the time to our public broadcaster, she thinks clothes are unimportant. Many details are the same. She is my mother’s age.

However, the main thing, the point for me, is that she is super shy, super sensitive, and she shies away from things. Because we’d met in therapy, so to speak, I felt it was OK to talk about it. Maybe I talked too much about my problems. Very likely I did. The more I talked, the more reserved she became. She would only talk about food or weather.

This is exactly what my mother would do. So, I brought it up. I did it in therapese, which was maybe not the best choice. I said she was reminding me quite a bit of my mother, and I mentioned some of the similarities. She was very offended, and ‘defended’ herself, saying she was not like my mother. I just listened – I know it’s my problem, if someone reminds me of my mom.

Then she said that she had lots going in internally, but she didn’t think I’d be interested, so she saved those things for when she was with other people.

Which really hurt my feelings. Why waste time meeting with me then, why not hang with the others? I didn’t say that. I just remarked that this was similar to my mother, who does not talk to me, but does talk to my sister. My friend had talked only about the tea and the decor in the cafe. It was kind of weird, and it is just what my family would do – try to shift the talk to food.

We let it go, and chatted a bit about other things before parting. There were no raised voices or nasty things said.

At home, I became more and more upset with this situation. I don’t do well with people who with hold – I get more and more desperate for a response. I remembered this woman in the group – how she with held most of her thoughts and opinions, how irritating I found that sometimes.

When we met for the first time after group, I was so relieved that she also had been angry with the people who attacked me, and that she had felt bad for me. Now I think – OK, how come she didn’t say anything? I know her struggle is an inability to speak up. But not this irritates me again. It would have made such a difference to me to know that not everyone was against me. Her silence was pretty deafening.

I know some of the turbulence of my feelings is due to being triggered. Still. Someone who tells me she doesn’t think I’d be interested in her thoughts so she saves them for others is not my friend. I suspect actually she’s judging me – some of the things I talked about I believe she finds quite strange, so she didn’t feel much similarity between us. We are a different generation for sure.

I wrote some of this out and sent it to Ron, as I was so upset I couldn’t sleep. I asked for a response, so he responded to an obvious thing. I’d stressed that what I emailed was confidential. So I poured my heart out, and he responded by saying everything I write is confidential.

Yesterday I wrote again, again very distressed and emotional. I didn’t ask for a response, given how he’d responded last time. So today, he replied to this saying that he hadn’t found something I’d lost last session.

It is so hurtful to pour your heart out and be ignored like that.

I don’t care for either of them at the moment.

Do you work things out with friends or do you end the relationship?

Art: Ria Hills – Tetley Tea Time