Posts Tagged ‘isolation’


September 30, 2010 Leave a comment

One of my children just recently started middle school. That’s the same age where my troubles really started, so I was already somewhat on edge watching what would happen.

What watching it brought back frankly surprised me.

Deep down, I’ve always believed that my real problems stem from the things that happened to me in school. And I also believe that there was no reason for any of it to happen. That if someone, anyone in a position of responsibility had bothered to do anything, if anyone had cared the slightest bit, that all of the torture I endured could have been stopped before it ever really started.

And watching my kid, that appears to be true.

The first week of school, one nasty kid started abusing mine. We contacted a guidance counselor at school. His reaction was to immediately say “That kind of behavior not tolerated at our school”, and to start taking action in multiple ways. The offending kid was disciplined; a group of children including (but not limited to) the kids who were passive participants were contacted gently and spoken to; my kid was brought in to talk to the counselor, who’s working with her on how to respond when someone acts like that.

The school’s new principal also gave a short introductory talk at the back-to-school night where we went to meet the teachers. In it, he said something like “As I see it, my job is to ensure that this school is a place where you children can come to learn. That means that when they come here, it’s my job to ensure that they’re safe – both from threats that come from outside the school and threats that come from inside the school.”

It impressive just how little effort it takes. This kind of trouble needs to be taken seriously – but if you really are serious about it, if you actually care, it doesn’t take much effort.

Watching this makes me really, really angry. Not that my kid is getting taken good care of. But because it proves that I was right all along. That if someone had cared, if someone had been willing to spend just a little bit of time doing their job, that I could have been spared so much pain, so many years of disfunction.

Why couldn’t any of the schools that I went to have thought about something like that? Why didn’t anyone ever stand up and say “We can’t let children in our school be beaten and abused”? Why didn’t anyone in authority ever both to try to protect me?

Here it is, 25 years after I graduated from high school – and I still have flashbacks of what was done to me. And it all could have been stopped right where it started, if only anyone had cared. But no one did. And the only one who was actually hurt by their lack of concern was me.

Categories: Retrospective Tags: , ,

Why fight?

September 12, 2010 2 comments

Right now, I’m sitting inside my house hiding, while the neighborhood block party happens on the street in front.

I hear the children shouting. I hear the adults talking and laughing. I smell the food cooking. And I would love, so much to be a part of that.

But I can’t. I can’t even walk out the door. And so I sit here, writing a blog that no one reads, missing something I’ve never really had. How pathetic is that?

Human beings are social animals. We’re wired by evolution to need to be part of a group. We build communities, not just because we want them, but because we need them. But what about someone like me, who doesn’t know how to join a community? Who’s afraid of it?

I’ve spent almost my entire life on the outside looking in. I’m jealous, so very jealous, of virtually everyone else. It seems like everyone but me knows how to find a community, to find friends, to find people that they can connect with. I just sit and watch, and feel horribly jealous.

Am I ever going to get better than this? I really doubt it. I can’t even imagine it. And after a couple of months of therapy, what progress have I made? None that I can see. I’m fighting, but it seems like I’m losing the battle. Why keep pissing away time money and pain on fighting this? It’s not going to change. I’m not going to change. Maybe it’s just time to give up fighting, and accept that this is what I am. I hate it, but if it’s the truth, what good is fighting it? What can it possibly bring  me except even more pain?

Pain? No, it’s just a joke.

There’s a lot to hate about being me. But ignore that for the moment. Let me focus on my big problem – this wretched social anxiety thing.

I’ve said before that I hate the term social anxiety. I hate more than the term. I hate the problem. I hate how people look at it. I hate how it’s a joke.

Any kind of psychological or psychiatric illness suffers from a huge stigma. If you’ve got something in that family, it’s because you’re weak, or foolish, or stupid.

Social anxiety suffers from that in spades.

People hear “social anxiety”, and… they see it, at best, as a manufactured illness. It’s just shyness. It’s not a real illness. It was invented by drug companies to sell happy pills!

No matter where you turn, if you hear a mention of social anxiety, it’s always either a joke, or a rant about how pathetic people are nowadays  – they can’t even cope with being shy without needing to see a doctor!

Even among geeks… there are a lot of people with social anxiety among geeks. But no one will actually admit it. I’m hiding behind a pseudonym here! But even in this community where so many of us suffer from it… Look at artists who come from the community. Take Jonathan Coulton. He’s got a song about pill popping, and yup, social anxiety is one of the punchlines.

I’m struggling to try to overcome this illness. And it’s so damned hard, and it hurts so damned much. And to nearly everyone else, to nearly everyone who hasn’t been in a miserable pit of despair like this, to people who’ve never been trapped in this cage, it’s just a joke.

A Slice of Life

It’s hard for me to talk about the things that are so difficult for me in everyday life. It often seems like utterly trivial of things are insurmountable barriers. I don’t understand how normal people do things. To me, they’re both terrifying and utterly impossible.

Today at work, I went to run an errand. On my way back, I stopped off at the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. All of the other members of my group were there having coffee and talking.

These are the people who I see and interact with every day. And if I had been at my desk when they went, they probably would have invited me to come along. But there they all were, chatting and laughing. I grabbed my coffee and slinked away.

I wasn’t invited. Even if they probably would have invited me, I couldn’t just push myself into their group. They didn’t invite me. And while I knew that that wasn’t personal, I still couldn’t do it. Because they didn’t. And because they didn’t, just the thought of joining them, even now, hours later, is enough to make me feel sick.

I don’t understand this at all. But understand or no, it’s part of my life, and I’m stuck with it.

I really hate being me.

The Circle of Isolation

One of the many things that makes being a screwed up person so frustrating is how it’s self-perpetuating.

It’s hard for me to talk to people I don’t know. So I make very few friends. Because I make so  few friends, I place enormous value on the friends that I have. For my small circle of friends, I’m intensely loyal.

That might be good in the abstract. Unfortunately, a lot of people find it frightening in practice. Why would this guy I barely know be willing to do so much for me? What does he want? Is he some kind of ax-murderer or something?

And so, new friends run away. Which makes it even harder to get through the initial contact that leads to friendship. Which means that the next time you get through it, the friendship means that much more. Which makes it all the more likely that you’ll scare them away.

It sucks.

I haven’t actually made a real, face-to-face friend in so long, it’s hard to even remember when it was. Mentoring relationships? yes.  Coworker relationships? yes. Actual friends, who I can hang out with? I really don’t know. It’s been years.

And that means that it’s almost impossible for me to make any new friends ever. Because the longer it’s been, the more the interpersonal skills decay, and the more that I desperately want that friendly contact, the more likely I am to appear to be some total crazy stalker lunatic.

It builds on itself.

That same basic phenomenon seems to permeate all sorts of interactions with other people. The more I screw it up, the harder it gets; the harder it gets, the more I screw it up. And so, I find myself getting trapped deeper and deeper into a state of isolation; and the more isolated I get, the more isolated I’m likely to get.