markpaul's Blog

Coming to the conclusion I am unlikable...

It just seems more and more evidence is building up that my inability to substantively interact with others comes down to being unlikable. I am beginning to think of it as though it is a condition of my life. For a while I thought, it's probably because of being (and feeling) socially awkward. I later convinced myself it's because of my looks; I often feel like I look ugly and have had that recently confirmed by at least one random (somewhat) stranger. I've written and talked about that before. While those factors may play into it, it is the plain and simple fact that I am unlikable that stands as a hedge between me and others. Others just don't like me.

Today at the gym, one person who I have been becoming good at in having substantive and easy-exchange conversations with nodded to me as he was getting ready to work out. I said, "Ready for another edition?" suggesting that we were back again (from yesterday) to work out again. He smiled and said, "Yeah, I have to hustle; I'm trying to finish in 30 minutes tonight," as he pressed past me. A few steps later and still in sight of me, he was engaged with someone else in a conversation. And, much later, he was talking to yet another person. The first person he started talking to, did wave at me (and I waved back), but there was no conversation. I get the message: you don't want to have conversations with people you don't like and you do want to talk to people that you do like. I am unlikable.

The guy with whom I was in an "avoidance war" for the longest time at the gym, who confronted me about 7 months ago and called me ugly and weird seems to have formalized his campaign of going out of his way to ignore me. While we have had some limited interaction with each other, it is just a scrap of contact that we have and only on his terms or when I over-actively look at him and wave to him. I've talked about it in my previous sessions. But, now it's become mutual avoidance. Not with the hostility, malice, and over-the-top display of avoidance that we were engaged in for so long, but avoidance none-the-less. It's not really a "war," but maybe a "cold war." He looks down and away anytime I approach; he subtly navigates beyond my presence; he simply acts as though I am not within his line of vision when we do pass by each other. Of course, I mostly copy his actions.

The interesting dynamic is the guy that didn't have time to talk to me tonight is a person we both talk to (individually) on a regular basis. But, we won't talk to each other. Well... I would, but I don't because he doesn't seem to want to have any affiliation with me. And, I don't think it has much to do with my looks as I originally convinced myself based upon what he told me ("You're ugly."). It's all about just not liking me. The thing is, there are people that I simply don't like, for no real reason at all, so I avoid them. The horror of it is, it doesn't feel good when that unlikability attribute is applied to me by someone else. I know I have to go on and I know I will go on. I also know that in true childish fashion, I will continue to match my "cold war ignore buddy" tactic for tactic. He ignores me; I follow and will ignore him.

At least for now, I hope we (you and I) can keep this just between us; I don't really want to bring this topic up in my sessions because I think it's leading to something that is not entirely accurate, but (I guess you can say) it has me on my guard. And, those sessions are difficult enough without being on guard. So, I have nowhere to go with this, but here. Nowhere and no one to go to with this, because I am unlikable...

Advancing, but failing to make progress...

"Why are you crying?"
"I don't really know. It suddenly just comes over me."
"How long has this been going on?"
"I guess since the last time we talked. I don't know why."
"Well, it's okay, you know. But, we need to find out what is causing it."
"So, tell me what's been going on with you? How have you been doing at interacting with people? The last time you were telling me about the guy at the gym."
"Yeah. It's just so hard. It seems like he goes out of his way to avoid me and my feelings get hurt. And, yeah I know that makes it sound like I'm some little school girl with a crush. I know it sounds gay."
"That's okay. Tell me more."
"Well, it just seems like he keeps trying to avoid me. The thing is, when I approach him and say hi or how's it going or what's up, he will smile and ask me how I am. But that's the extent of it."
"I like that you are being assertive though. You approached him. That's pretty good, don't you think?"
"It just requires so much effort to get people to engage with me. I don't know what people have against me, why they find me so repulsive."
"Why do you think you are crying?"
"You mean... now?"
"I feel like I'm rotting in loneliness. Well... maybe not loneliness, but without any human contact. Life is unfair. Why can't I experience friendship, or more? No one wants to be friends with me, no one wants me. I have to suffer this miserable and sad loneliness. Well... maybe not loneliness, but being alone. There's no one who I can be with."
"But, you are making contact. That's positive."
"I've been doing a lot of thinking about how sad and lonely my life has been. I have to suffer through this bleak sadness alone. No one will give me a chance."
"But, you made contact!"
"I noticed he was talking to someone in the gym and he was engaged in the conversation. He never does that with me."
"You seem to spend a lot of time thinking about him and observing him."
"I'm just using him as an example."
"Of course... go on. What do you want to happen?"
"I want to be able to talk to him and for him to want to talk to me."
"Why him though?"
"Well... I mean... it's not like I am obsessed with him. I'm just using him as an example. It could be anyone, I guess..."
"Let me ask you something..."
"Well, I have to go..."
"Thats a switch; you are ending our session?"
"Well, no... I just mean..."
"What are you afraid of...?
"Well, not nothing, but..."
"Okay, look let's pick this up the next time. But, I want you get comfortable with these type of questions. We have to move beyond the superficial things... Why are you crying?"
"I have to go. Bye..."
"Sometimes people struggle. Sometimes life is a struggle. It's not personal. It's just the way life is. Can you..."
"Okay... Bye..." [Leaves crying...]

Revealing more, but not enough. Maybe the next time...

"Don't you think it's time you come clean?"
"I don't know what you mean... I..."
"These sessions will never amount to much if you hold back."
"I'm not hiding anything if that's what you mean. I tell you everything..."
"I'm not here to parent you, to accuse you, or force you into anything you don't want to do. But, if you never feel comfortable in revealing what's really on your mind, I don't know how to help you."
"So, you're dropping me? Look I'm sorry..."
"No, it's not that. I just want you to open up."
"About what? This is so complicated."
"It's only complicated if you make it that way."
"Okay, look I'm sorry. Maybe this is all my fault."
"How about you just tell me about your recent interactions."
"Well, the training manager at the gym keeps trying to get me to sign-up for lessons.I don't want to and I haven't, but I listen to his pitch and have conversations with him about it even though I am never going to sign-up."
"What about that guy that confronted you?"
"We say hello and talk; mostly BS. He doesn't talk to me about anything of substance or anything."
"But, you have interaction with him?"
"Yeah, I guess..."
"Do you feel that's progress?"
"I don't know... I guess in a way."
"Have you had any interaction with women lately?"
[Silence] "I'm not gay, if that's what you mean or hinting at."
"I didn't think that or mean to suggest it. If it came across that way..."
"Well, I mean it doesn't matter if I am, but I'm not."
"Well, have you...?"
"You mean talked to women? Well... no, not really."
"Why do you think that is?"
"I guess women don't really notice me or seem to want to talk to me."
"Why do you feel that way?"
"I don't know... I guess I haven't thought about it much. The thing is, I don't really have anything to say to women, I mean generally and they are usually looking for some type of commitment and...."
"Aren't you jumping to conclusions?"
"Well, I didn't mean to say that all women are like that. But, my girlfriend - I mean when we were going out together was sure like that."
"How long ago was that?"
"A few years ago, I guess. I told you about her..."
"Well how are you doing in reaching out to people?"
"You mean women?"
"No, anyone. You are having conversations with that guy at that gym that you said neither of you spoke to each other for several years. And, now you are. That seems like progress. How do you feel about it?"
"I guess I like talking to him. I know it sounds weird, but I feel like... well I wish we were more like friends instead of just 2 guys who say hello to each other every now and then."
"I see..."
"But, I doubt that could ever even happen - or anything."
"Why do you think that is?"
"Aren't you supposed to ask 'What would you like to happen?' I mean that's usually your go-to question."
"I just think it's interesting that you want something more to happen, but have already concluded nothing more can happen before you have put any effort into it."
"I've put effort into it..."
"I think that would be a good place for us to pick-up on the next time."
"You get me to a point where I am ready to open up and then you shut me down. You do this everytime. Are you sure you are qualified?"
"I told you, no personal attacks. You know we have a time limit and that I have other appointments. This is not new to you. You know this."
"I guess it's my fault. I'm sorry..."
"Let's just pick this up - at this very same point the next time."
"Well, ______ will set your next appointment. And, don't be rude to her."
"Was I rude?"
"She felt you were abrupt the last time you talked to her."
"Well, maybe I don't know how to talk to women."
"That's an interesting comment. Let's talk about that too... the next time."
"Yeah, the next time. Bye."

Coming closer, but then silence (-----) kicks in...

"So, it's been awhile. What's on your mind?"
"I guess I don't seem to know how to connect with anyone."
"Do you want to connect?"
"And, what have you tried to do?"
"I had a very brief conversation with that guy that called me weird and ugly 4 months ago at the gym."
"Interesting... how did that go?"
"Well, we talked, I guess, but it was brief and nothing came of it?"
"What did you want to come from it?"
"Well... I thought maybe we could be friends."
"And, what do you think now?"
"I guess we can't; I guess he doesn't want to."
"How does that make you feel?"
"Rejected... like a loser... solitary, I guess."
"I want to ask you something, but to be honest I'm concerned how you might react by my question."
"Well, let me hold off on my question for now. Instead, tell me what type of interaction you have had with anyone this week."
"Why don't you want to answer the question?"
"Okay, let's try it this way. I think you might be blocking your feelings; in a way hiding from them and in doing so, you are making it difficult to interact with other people. In other words, you are on guard and you may not even be fully aware you are doing it. But, by being on guard, you are actually holding yourself back."
"I don't know... I mean... maybe. It's not that I haven't thought about that myself."
"What do you think you might be blocking? What are you guarding with such intensity?"
"I feel uncomfortable talking about this."
"Well, what would you like to see happen?"
"I guess... well I wish... well the thing is... I just wish someone would comment and let me know I'm not a bad or deficient person."
"Why do you think you're a bad person?"
"I tell you what; why don't we pick this up the next time?"

Looking for a way out...

"We would love to see you. Doctor has an appointment open for tomorrow if you want it?"
"I don't know...  I mean, I'm not sure I want to."
"Well, sometimes just talking about your feelings can help. I know it works for me. And, it's been awhile since we last saw you, hasn't it?"
"Yeah, I guess..."
"How have you been?"
"Just fine. Yeah it has been awhile. I guess you could say I stopped coming."
"Oh, that's too funny."
"I wasn't trying to be funny."
"I'm sorry. It's just the way you said it... I would love to put you down for the appointment. I tell you what, how about we put you down and if you change your mind you just call me and I will take you off. It won't be a bother and this way you will have a choice."
"I guess that would be okay, but..."
"There's nothing to worry about."
"Well, I do have something that I would kind of like to talk about with..."
"Are you okay, honey?"
"Well, we are looking forward to seeing you. But, remember if you want to change your mind all you have to do is call me. There's no problem either way. Okay?"
"Something happened, but I don't know if it's good or bad."
"Well, you come in and talk to the Doctor about it, okay? He will want to talk to you about it and you know how he can gently guide you. Okay sweetie?"
"Sweetie, are you still there?"
"Yes. I will see you tomorrow."
"Okay, now you take care. See you tomorrow."

[I FEEL like I could cry and that I could jump for joy. Directly opposed feelings like these always end up betraying me. I wonder if I should go to the appointment...] 

Prying the door open and then it slams shut...

"What has been on your mind?"
"I am having trouble relating to people."
"Is this a new development?"
"Well, why do you think this? Do you have any examples?"
"When I walk into a room, people hate me."
"When was the last time this happened?"
"I told you about the guy at the gym who said I was ugly and..."
"Wait. Is that guy still on your mind?"
"No. That's just an example."
"What if... what if I was to say, I think... I think you are exaggerating?"
"I don't know... I would have guessed you would say that. But, I don't think I am. No one even cares about what I have to say... or about me. I guess I heard a comedian close his act by saying he hopes everyone has what he has, people close to him who care. I don't have that."
"When was this? Who was the comedian? Where were you at the time?"
"I guess I would rather not say."
"Okay. We don't have to talk about the details if you don't want to. I would like to understand these feelings you are having. Is there any way you can explain them to me?"
"You mean without giving any details? Well, I guess..."
"Yes... go on."
"Well, the thing is, it just feels no one cares. People look at me, but no one's curious about me or wants to know me, or ..."
"Let's try this... are you ever lonely."
"I guess everyone's lonely at some point.. you know during points within their life. Loneliness is like stopping points on the way through life. You can't avoid them. Like, you have stop to eat, or get gas, or stretch when you are driving on long trips. And, you need to be lonely at points; its unavoidable."
"But, what are you feeling? Don't speak for humanity. Speak for yourself."
"It's just that no one cares about me."
"What do you imagine someone caring looks like? What does it feel like? Describe how that would feel. Can you imagine it?"
"Well... I guess there would be some conversation about... like... okay... like someone showing an interest. No one even wants to talk to me?"
"What action do you take to show an interest or curiosity in others?"
"You're trying to turn this on me, like you always do."
"No. We don't need to resort to hostility. I'm just trying to understand so I am asking questions. Are you angry at me or the process?"
"Do you want to take a break?"
"I guess I'm supposed to say yes."
"No. There's no right answer. I am seeing you go from feeling sorry for yourself to becoming angry and I am trying to understand what caused the transition."
"Nothing. I mean, I can't explain it any better."
"I think we should discuss this next time. What do you think?"
"I think this is the last time. I don't feel like this is helping.
"I hope you come back, but I understand if you don't."
[Slams door behind him] On the way out the door to the office and walking to my car, I feel angry at the process, the guy, myself, and the lack of results. I wish I could reach out to people without it feeling like I was acting. I wish I had said that before I left. But, now it's too late.

Getting somewhere, but not sure where...

"So, you haven't been keeping up with our sessions. Is there a reason?"
"I guess I haven't felt much like talking to you for you to sum everything up with, 'that's all the time we have; let's pick this up with the next session.'"
"Now, you know I have others to see and our sessions are timed."
"I know; I guess I expect too much."
"Well, what's been on your mind?"
"I had a dream that someone hypnotised me into a relationship."
"They basically told me what to do and I did it and that was the relationship."
"How did that make you feel?"
"In a way, for the duration of the dream, it felt comforting."
"Outside of dreaming, what is it about relationships that you find so difficult?"
"Well,.. there's the rejection."
"Just that? Only rejection? Think back... haven't you rejected others. You told me about a woman you were dating who..."
"Yes, yes! I know!! I can't seem to commit, but I am afraid of being rejected."
"What will happen if you are rejected?"
"No... I think you are missing the point. I mean, nothing will happen. It's like that guy at the gym who called me ugly and weird."
"Did he ever come back?"
", actually."
"Do you still feel rejected by that?"
"No... yes... no. No, not really. Sometimes..."
"Does rejection scare you?'
"No... I mean I can handle it. It doesn't matter."
"Do you want to be rejected?"
"Do you think you encourage rejection?"
"A woman who I once semi-dated told me no one is going to love you if you can't love yourself. And, I felt... I felt..."
" Go on... what did you feel? Get yourself in that moment. What are you feeling?"
"I feel... vulnerable... I feel trapped. I feel like she is exposing me so she can reject me."
"What happnend?"
"She rejected me."
"Did you survive?"
"Ultimately, yes. I am here now, aren't I? But, in the moment, no. It devastated me. I didn't cry or anything, but I could have. Except I compartmentalized the feeling to limit its effect on me."
"What bothered you most about what she said?"
"Most...? I remember... after we left each other I went home and sat in the dark room of my condo... I remember sitting and staring out the sliding glass door to the balcony into the courtyard... it was a fall evening in October... I remember wondering if I would become 'that' guy who always goes home alone. I convinced myself she was wrong; she didn't really know me. But, as it turns out she was right. And, I was right. And, I do always go home alone. I guess that's why I am here now."
"I would like for you to come back so we can finish this."
"Do you think this is even getting us anywhere? Well, me anywhere?"
"I do, I really do."
"I don't know. I don't know if this is really helping me."
"Well there is an open appointment for you if you want it... Are you crying?"
"I have to go. Besides you have someone else to see, I'm sure."
"I hope to see you again, soon."
"It sounds like you are getting ready to reject me...
[Silence] The guy writes something in his book that he keeps about my sessions with him.
...I'm joking... it's just a joke."


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. 

1-20 of 36 Blogs   

Previous Posts
Coming to the conclusion I am unlikable..., posted May 22nd, 2015
Advancing, but failing to make progress..., posted May 6th, 2015
Revealing more, but not enough. Maybe the next time..., posted April 26th, 2015
Coming closer, but then silence (-----) kicks in..., posted March 18th, 2015
Looking for a way out..., posted March 8th, 2015
Prying the door open and then it slams shut..., posted January 11th, 2015
Getting somewhere, but not sure where..., posted December 21st, 2014
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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