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Another attempt to understand myself...

One lingering trait of my social anxiety is that I attach far more substance, significance, and sentimentality to interactions than is really there or is ever reciprocated. As a result, I often feel as though a relationship has been lost, changed, or damaged when in fact, no relationship by conventional standards even exists. The awkward thing is the feeling of loss seems real to me, even though I have developed a filter that helps me realize I am a  hostage to a social anxiety "episode." I feel sad because I go through the dynamics of loss that I can't explain in a way that doesn't make me look childish and pathetic. I used to bottle it to protect myself; now I journal it. I can't share it. I wonder if that is one more thing that keeps me apart from others. No one understands...

Abruptly avoiding what needs to be said...

"Come in. Have a seat. Do you want to start from where we left off the last time?"
"I don't know."
"Are you in one of your avoidance moods?"
"No... I mean yes. I mean no."
"Come on, what's bothering you?"
"Well you ended up ending our last session abruptly."
"Come on, what's really bothering you?"
'I feel isolated."
"Is this still left over from the guy at the gym telling you, you are ugly and then never coming back?"
"No... I mean yes... I mean no. Yes, I guess so. I don't want to talk about this I want to go."
"I told you, I won't force you to talk or to stay. We can talk next week, if you want."
"I guess no one cares about me."
"Let's talk next week."
"Fine. Bye."

 

Examining my feelings in weak increments...

"So, what's on your mind."
"Someone called me weird and ugly."
"Does that bother you?"
"I didn't think it did. Well it didn't at first. But, now I guess it does. It's all I keep thinking about and saying to myself. I mean... I would always see all my flaws and think about how ugly I look to myself and then convince myself no one spends that much time evaluating me and maybe I am not really that ugly. But, now I have confirmation."
"What bothers you about it?"
"I guess that.. well... I mean... I guess that the guy confirmed what I was thinking about myself."
"Tell me more about what led to the guy revealing this to you."
"It was the guy at the gym..."
"The one you never spoke to in over 4 years?"
"Yes. At least I know his name; we traded names before we shook hands."
"I see."
"I... well... after he confronted me, we traded insults, he asked me my name and after I told him I asked him his. He told me and then we shook hands. And, then he stopped coming to the gym... at least when I am there. I feel abandoned and sad about that, like it's somehow all my fault. I have no way to close this out and it feels like he won. And, my guess is I will never see him again."
"What would you like to do about it?"
"I would like to get the guy to be friends. Look, I know that's crazy and suggests I am trying to get someone who obviously hates me to like me. It's self-defeating."
"I'm not sure that's it. I think you might be looking to bond which can be a positive step in the right direction by stepping outside yourself."
"I hate myself, the way I look, the way I act, the way I feel."
"Let's start there the next time. See you in a week."
"Yeah but... oh ok... see you next week."

Confirmation from an unexpected source...

At the gym, I was working out. I walked over to the iso-lateral machine and a guy I have noticed for 4+ years, but never talked to, was staring and then smiling. I felt unnerved and my soical anxiety kicked in. I purposely looked away. Later, he looked in my direction and laughed. I convinced myself he was laughing with someone behind me. The next day, he would walk by me and laugh. In childlike fashion, I "retailiated" and starting laughing out loud looking directly at him.  On the the third day, he walked past me and spoke to me for the first time since we had known of each other, "Do you enjoy acting weird?" I shot back, "Your're the one acting weird." We continued walking past each other. Later that night, on his way out of the gym he confronted me. "Nice come-back before," he started. He wanted to know if I have a shrine to him in my house. "Do you want me to have a shrine to you," I asked. "Actually, no," he thought and then insisted. He wanted to know why I copy him on everything. He said it was obvious to him and his friends that I wear whatever gym clothes he has. He looked me over and said, "You're weird and ugly."  I told him, "I used to think you were paranoid, but now I wonder if you are a narcisist. Are you paranoid or a narcisist." He said, "Maybe a narcisist." I said, "You are grown man but you sound like a middle school kid. I wear Nike and Addidas brand clothes, not exactly obscure brands and mostly grey and black." He said so does he, "maybe we have more in common than I thought." He guessed I was an engineer, "No, I'm in marketing." I asked him what he did and he hesitated. I offered, "You would rather not say...?" He agreed and we both allowed the conversation to move ahead. He charged me with, "you're always shooting me dirty looks." I said, I admit that it's childish, but it's because you do the same thing to me." I said, "I don't know what to do about the colors I wear so as not to offend you. He didn't answer. He insisted, "Let's just end this, acting this way." I agreed. We exchanged names and shook hands. He left the gym and I turned to finish my work out. Three gym staff members who had congregated behind us asked me if everything was alright. I said "yes" and apologized if we were disruptive. I said, we were just working out an issue. One of the staff members said, "We don't need to know the details; we just don't want any fighting in the gym." I looked down at the ground and walked away.

I wasn't really bothered by him calling me ugly. After all, this really isn't middle school. What he said though has been ringing through my head as if it was a confirmation. I haven't seen him at the gym for the past 10 days.

An overheard conversation and Batman...

At the gym, I overheard one guy talking to a woman, in a very animated way, explain his experiences about recently moving into a new apartment with his partner and how he had to pay extra because two people would be living there. From that snippet of a conversation, I felt sadness crawl itself over me. You see, I live alone in an isolated existence that I have chosen and continue to maintain. I want to say I never had a taste of being with someone else, but truth be told, I have. The thing is, I no longer wear my solitude like the badge of honor I once thought it was. I no longer want it, yet I don't want to retreat from it. It's a tug-of-war with myself.

I remember when Batman first came out in movie form (the Michael Keaton version) and felt redeemed because Bruce Wayne chose to be so solitary. I felt sad when the script (and storyline) forced him to seek companionship to acknowledge his loneliness. "I can't identify with that; the movie is ruined," I remember thinking to myself as I watched (the entire movie) in the safety of the dark theatre, seemingly all alone. Now, I know what (that) Bruce Wayne was feeling. The funny thing is this time, the sadness is because I am envious that someone has companionship in the form of a housemate. The trouble is, unlike Bruce Wayne I don't have a script or a superhero identity to guide me.  

Viewing myself from outside and other excerpts...

... It's just that I don't have any meaningful relationships.

Why do you think that is?

Well, I've been cast out. For some reason I repulse people. I don't understand it. It's so sad.

Are you sad?

Well, yeah, that's what I said.

No... you said "it's" so sad. Why did you say, "it's so sad" if  you mean you're so sad?

Is this really important and worth using up our time about?

Yes, I think it is. You said, "it's" so sad, what did you mean by that?

I don't know... I guess when I look at it, it just seems so sad.

So, you are looking at your life as though you and "it" are two different things.

Hmmm.... maybe. I don't know.

I told you. It's dangerous to use "I don't know" as a lazy way not to explain what you are feeling.

Okay, okay. I guess I am taking a look at myself and seeing something that seems sad. And, that makes me sad.

Why do you think you have been cast out?

It's just that no one wants me. No one has EVER shown any interest in me.

That seems like an exaggeration.

No, it's really not. I have no friends, no meaningful relationships, and I am totally isolated.

Why bring this up now?

I guess because I saw someone I know get congratulated on one of those networking applications and it was her father-in-law who congratulated her on some career achievement and he said, "I am so proud of you for your accomplishments and for being a great mother to my grandsons and for taking care of my son. Love you so much." And, I guess I realized that I have none of that dimension to my life. I've never even ever had a taste of that. 

Why do you think that is? What role have you played in that circumstance?

[Silence]... [Silence]... [Silence].

Let's talk about this in our next session...

Mother and Son visit...

They sat without saying anything for quite some time  occasionally glancing at each other. "Are you enjoying the book you are reading?" "Yes," was his reply. He had no energy to engage in conversation, to initiate any conversation, or maintain the conversation. There were memories to enjoy, things to say, and moments to share. But, the mood demanded to be serviced and that extracted everything. At 15 minutes she said, 'Let's watch the movie you brought" and they hid behind that individual activity they did together until it was time for him to go. She suggested that it was time-to-go first. There was a quick hug and he was gone. She seemed sad and lost and he felt disconnected and abandoned. He planned to visit again next month and she assumed he would. 

Seeing my low self-esteem for what it really is...

My low self-esteem is a best friend who came to vist and has over-stayed his welcome long after the friendship has lost its meaning. Truth be told, we have had some good times together, but it insists on impressing upon me negative influences. It is time to move on. Like one who has been abused though, I feel threatened to leave it behind or let it go even though I realize our relationship is no longer healthy. I want to become friends with confidence. But, self-confidence doesn't seem to want me as a friend. Not yet, anyway.

Seeing my low self-esteem for what it really is...

My low self-esteem is a best friend who came to vist and has over-stayed his welcome long after the friendship has lost its meaning. Truth be told, we have had some good times together, but it insists on impressing upon me negative influences. It is time to move on. Like one who has been abused though, I feel threatened to leave it behind or let it go even though I realize our relationship is no longer healthy. I want to become friends with confidence. But, self-confidence doesn't seem to want me as a friend. Not yet, anyway.

Hard-coded to be alone...

I wonder if I am 'hard-coded" not to have friends. It is always easy to see the relationship mistakes of others: maybe you are being to critical of others, maybe you are holding others up to standards that simply can't be met, maybe you are being too critical of yourself, maybe you are letting your low self-esteem define you and hold you back. 

I wonder why I am so undesirable. Sometimes I see all my flaws and think I am just plain ugly. And, that confirms why I "need" to be solitary. Other times, I think I am not as ugly as I think I am and besides no one is spending as much time on my flaws as I am. In truth, everyone (even those with movie-star looks and professional publicity spokespeople behind them) has flaws. Flaws are part of the human condition.

So, maybe I am hard-coded not to have friends. But, maybe I also have the tools to change the coding if I want. If I want...


The emptiness of it all...

I called my Mom and Dad. My Mom told me there was going to be a memorial service for the neighbor and 45+ year friend of the family on Sunday who had died. "Do you want to come?" I didn't say anything. She said it's so sad and her kids want to remember her and find some closure. "Do you want to come?" I said I didn't know. "Well, you think about it and let me know. You knew her too, so it would make sense for you to be there. But, I don't want to force you into it. You can join in. What are you going to do, sit in the house by yourself while the rest of us are outside?" I didn't say anything. She said, "I'm not a happy camper." She asked, "when are you coming to visit? Are you coming this Saturday?" I told her I would be. She asked, "Do you want to see your brother? (he's visitng from out of state)" She continued, "I can't change anything, that's when they want to have the service. Do you want to come?" Raising my voice I said: "I told you I am coming Saturday and you keep asking me if I am coming?" She said, "Okay come. Everyone will be glad to see you, but I know you don't like it when too many people are around. I didn't say anything. She put my father on the phone and he wanted to know when I would be coming. I said, "Saturday." He said, there was going to be a memorial service for the neighbor on Sunday. "Why don't you come then." My mother was screaming in the background, "He's coming Saturday." My father said, "maybe you should come Sunday." My mother screamed, "He can't come Sunday; he's coming Saturday." I was about to say, maybe I could come Sunday. A voice in the background said, "the memorial service is going to be Saturday." My father said, well come on Saturday; we want to see you. My Dad handed the phone back to my mother. She didn't ask if I wanted to talk to my brother. I didn't ask; I didn't say much and she said she had to go prepare lunch. She said she loves me. I said, "Good-bye." The call ended. I feel empty.

Running on Empty...

Lately I have been noticing how people seem to be coupled, traveling in packs of friends. And, while my observations reveal a layer of envy, I know I don't have the qualifications to sustain a friendship of any kind. Running behind, I don't have the social skills or the personal fortitude to relate to others on any type of sustainable personal level. So, I remain an outsider looking in at the interaction most people seem to desire and enjoy, secretly craving the same activity and attention they seem to trade naturally, but hyper-aware that activity is not intended for me. As I find myself running on empty I wonder if I am tricking myself into believing...
  • I am incapable of friendships
  • Friendships are not meant for me
  • I am better off alone
  • I enjoy being alone
  • My purpose is to be alone

It's not that I am unhappy or dissatisfied. Not by a long-shot. But, if that's truly the case, I should not find myself running on empty. Right...?


Note to self... and reply

Dear Self...

I can't seem to get the hang of revealing emotions with anyone close. It is as though I am attempting to hide something that if found out will crumble me. Yet, I don't know what it is, why I shut-down when my emotions are called upon, or why I cede all personal control and let sadness (an emotion) overtake me, revealing holes inside.

I have no resolution (solution or New Year's) to this issue. Attempting to confront it and take charge creates a sense of immediate physical exhaustion and sense of defeat. I (now) know the "emotional control" is holding me back, but my lack of emotion represents my comfort zone even though I no longer want to be comforted by it.

Withholding my emotions served me well for so many years. Now, it is weighing me down like an oversized anchor too big for its intended purpose. I have outgrown my need to be so self-protected, but I don't know any other way to operate.

Signed... Lost at sea

_______________________________

Dear Lost at Sea... It's a new year filled with wonder, hope, and potential.You may feel disappointed, fueled by despair now. But, all is not lost. Don't focus on what you wish you were. Attempt to meet your desired self by reaching out, never giving up, and noting milestone progress. Take joy in the competiton; don't be concerned with failure. It can be your friend if you have the courage to embrace it. I know how you feel about yourself and you are not as bad as you encourage yourself to believe. Don't get me wrong, you do have your moments, but you are really not so bad. Will you trust me on this? I know this question makes you feel awkward, but I am still asking it.

Solutions to the self are not always easy to uncover, but they always exist. Use your sense of discovery, your focus and discipline, and know that you can be loved and you can show love. Speaking of love, I know how you love to (over) analyze things. But, maybe all that you need is some practice when it comes to extending love to others and graciously accepting it. I know that scares you. But, sometimes simple solutions that require personal courage to confront personal fears are the most effective solutions of all. And, maybe, you don't need ALL the answers on why you need a solution. Maybe, you just need to practice the solution to fill in some of the holes inside. I'm looking forward to hearing from you throughout 2012 and for a thousand years.. and more. 

Getting it straight...

I feel like it's time to move on. For the longest time I have been holding and internalizing and defining myself with all the hurt feelings I have collected through all the years. I have never really let anything go. Instead, I have empowered all of those hurt feelings to, in turn, power and confirm feelings of low self-worth, low self-esteem, and being inadaquate.

This isn't really a sudden realization. It's part of a series of realizations about myself that I have been recently gaining as I assess where I am with my human development. I don't know if I ever will be able to move into a healthy relationship. I can't seem to reconcile my feelings about myself, my connection with others, what I want to accomplish, and what I am willing to put into the effort.

I feel like I have been down this road before. I feel like I might be able to get it straight this time. At least, I know the way. But, do I have what it takes?

"They're writing songs of love, but not for me..."

I am socially awkward, emotionally stunted, and most comfortably alone. Yet, being alone never seems to live up to its full potential. So, quite often I am in a state of consistent contradiction... wanting and imagining being fully engaged with a life filled with friends and friendly pursuits. But, always... always falling back into the solitude from an all too welcoming world of one.

Perhaps the disguise of being fully socially-functional while harboring feelings of low self-worth are taking its toll. Perhaps, watching too many (so-called) reality TV shows of people who self-destruct from those same feelings are denting the formidable armor I once was so proud of, but now suspect have me trapped inside a psychological prison.Or, perhaps the irony that fate often loves to deliver has offered me doubt in the lone wolf path I so vigorously pursued and preserve.

I'm not sad, down-and-out, or necessarily regretful. Instead, I feel  "I was a fool to fall - and get this way..." 

The front door...

"It is not for the family to use. I don't want to see anyone using it. Is that clear?" We all said yes. It made no sense. But, I felt as though it was probably for the best since I wasn't worthy of using it. In any case, it didn't matter, because we were never given a key. "Company can use the front door, but family, no. Not ever!" The rule stayed in force for all the time I lived there, at home.  


Perhaps next time...

He called his parents. It had been a few weeks since the last time they had talked. In the background he could hear his father's voice, "Tell him I said hello." "Your father says hello." He didn't make any acknowledgment. And, while he felt annoyed, he knew if his father did make any effort to talk to him, it wouldn't lead to any substantive conversation anyway. So, he listened to his mother talk about her neighbor's new roof, some TV program she had watched where humans attempted (and succeeded) in domesticating a wild animal, and the death of a once close friend. He didn't respond. His mother asked him some questions about the upcoming election. He offered one word answers. His mother didn't seem to notice. She asked him what he was doing. He replied with empty feeling, "Nothing." She asked him what book he was reading and as he started to come to life about reading "Out of Africa" and explaining the details, she interrupted with her own thoughts of which he could no longer recall. He didn't try to regain any footing in the conversation. She asked about the weather and wanted to know how he felt about the latest terrorist scare. When he failed to indicate he was shocked and unnerved as she said she was, she said she was just interested. "I'm just interested." She told him about his brothers. He indicated no curiosity, passing interest, or insight. He thought to himself that he could be autistic.

She relented the control over the conversation by saying she loved him and wished him a good upcoming week. Acting as though he had heard it all before, he said goodbye and hung up the phone. He felt empty and depressed. He reminded himself he never really had a substantive connection with his parents, although on the surface he was sure it seemed as though there was more than there was currently. Maybe he was wrong. In any case, he folded up the long list of things he wanted and planned to tell her. "Perhaps next time," he thought...


The power of the power box...

I replaced the power box in my computer which stopped working this morning. The computer was off (I always leave it on, in sleep mode). When I pressed the power button, nothing happened and there was a green blinking light in the back even when I pulled out the plug. Weird!  I was able to diagnose the problem, test the options, and determine the root cause. I headed out, taking the unit with me and I conferred with they guy in the narrow black tie and white shirt at the retailer and agreed with him that I could probably install a new power unit myself and save on the diagnosis and installation fees ($70 + $60) plus avoid the wait time. I bought the new power box and then went to work out. I had a strong chest work out and 30 minutes of cardio.

 When I got home, I began to install the new power box. There were six connecting links including the one to the motherboard which was the most difficult to reconnect because it was hard to reach. Getting all the wires to squeeze into the CPU was not easy; I ultimately prevailed. I plugged everything back in. It didn't work. I felt dejected. I start considering a new PC. I decided to reopen the case and re-check all the connections. I pulled out two, including the one to the motherboard. This time, I plugged in the power box before closing up the case. The fan to the power unit went on and the computer started. I pulled the plug, closed the case and reconnected everything including the monitor. SUCCESS!

I feel so manly.

A self-imposed lost connection...

He called each week and barely ever spoke. She did all of the talking. Before each call he would role play what he would say. During each rehearsal, he was open, honest, excited, and willing to share. But, once the call took place he shut down, closed up, and became the silent visitor on the end of the phone call. She never seemed to pick up on the reason behind his silence and he never attempted to explain. Over time, he no longer fully understood what caused him to act this way, yet he retained his suspicions. The few times when someone else would pick up the phone he was even more withdrawn.

Most of his earlier memories had turned into sad ones. Yet, he was convinced he really had been happy. Most of what he recollected turned on the tension, anxiety, and despair that gave his early years their dimension. He knew he was distancing himself from that self. And, as if on auto-pilot, anyone and every one that held him to that self had lost their connection to him. It seemed to be the way he wanted it. But, that made him sad too.

Life moves ahead at an incredible speed and connections last only for an instant. They are fragile and not self-sustaining. And, it seemed (even to him) that he was too willing to squander the few connections he had.

On being blank...

So... I have been operating on a solo basis and it's what I wanted [want], but it's not as satisfying as I was thinking it would turn out to be. Don't get me wrong. I am enjoying the solitude, the capability to run entirely in chill mode and escape all drama. But, there is a missing element. It's like I am blank. Lately I have been thinking that I am holding myself in a self-constructed prison. In some respects I want to be fully engaged with people, but it is almost as though I won't allow myself that pleasure.

___________________

The man went to the office and did his job. He interacted with the people. He dreamed of having an impact. He recognized his capabilites. He wondered about individual purpose, connection of all beings, cruelty of humanity, and the march of time. There were some days when his creativity came pouring out of him and he was its instrument. There were other days when he felt confused about his value and thought he might be deficient. He closed himself off to most substantive human contact. He heard a voice, "don't be scared, it's only love."
___________________

What did I do? Why have I sentenced myself to solitary confinement? I didn't do anything wrong. How can I plead my case with myself?


1-20 of 29 Blogs   

Previous Posts
Another attempt to understand myself..., posted November 15th, 2014
Abruptly avoiding what needs to be said..., posted November 14th, 2014
Examining my feelings in weak increments..., posted November 10th, 2014
Confirmation from an unexpected source..., posted October 25th, 2014
An overheard conversation and Batman..., posted September 24th, 2014
Viewing myself from outside and other excerpts..., posted September 12th, 2014
Mother and Son visit..., posted July 21st, 2013
Seeing my low self-esteem for what it really is..., posted February 15th, 2013
Seeing my low self-esteem for what it really is..., posted February 14th, 2013
Hard-coded to be alone..., posted February 10th, 2013
The emptiness of it all..., posted February 10th, 2013
Running on Empty..., posted November 11th, 2012
Note to self... and reply, posted January 1st, 2012
Getting it straight..., posted July 17th, 2011
"They're writing songs of love, but not for me...", posted December 26th, 2010
The front door..., posted November 14th, 2010
Perhaps next time..., posted October 31st, 2010
The power of the power box..., posted August 22nd, 2010
A self-imposed lost connection..., posted August 1st, 2010
On being blank..., posted May 30th, 2010
And, I love her still..., posted May 14th, 2010, 2 comments
"You always love people on your way out...", posted May 2nd, 2010, 2 comments
An orange and cloves..., posted April 28th, 2010, 4 comments
The scent of rotting self-confidence..., posted April 28th, 2010
"All the lonely people...", posted April 25th, 2010
My "over-exposure" limit..., posted April 22nd, 2010
I love YOU, but..., posted April 20th, 2010
Fear of intimacy..., posted April 19th, 2010, 1 comment
Emotional Control, posted April 18th, 2010

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