Social Isolation

num_skymanWhen someone asks you how you are, it’s an automatic response to say “Good” or “I’m fine”.  And it’s an easy answer. However, if I’m on this path to be true to myself and accept where I am in my life, then that automatic response doesn’t serve me well.

I’ve been thinking a lot about why I feel so uncomfortable in social situations and why I’ve not kept in touch with friends who have supported me in the past. What I’ve realized is that it has nothing to do with the friends and everything to do with me.

A true friend is there for you regardless of what’s going on in your life and accepts you for who you are in the present. Although I have managed to maintain a few great friendships from my high school and college days, many of those people live outside Vancouver. The friends I’m mostly referring to are those I’ve met since I’ve lived in Vancouver. Some I met through work, others in activities to do with my daughter and still others when I was going through my divorce.

Social interaction is the key to developing solid friendships and no, Facebook doesn’t count. My retreat into myself was a slow process. At first, I didn’t have enough money to go out for dinner. Then, I no longer had a car to go visit friends who don’t live along the transit lines. Soon, I didn’t always have enough money to do my laundry every week , which meant I didn’t have clean clothes to wear which made me feel good about myself. Eventually, scraping up enough money to even go for a coffee or to take transit to meet at a halfway point was a challenge.

Inviting people over to my house became too stressful, as my depression was preventing me from keeping it clean and I had placed unrealistic expectations on myself as to how my life should be. Complete withdrawal occurred when I no longer felt I had anything positive to say about my life and had a hard time relating to their lives. I stopped talking to anyone altogether.

Meanwhile, my friends were doing great things with their lives. They were buying the house of their dreams, having another child, getting re-married, moving up in their career or finally getting from their ex what they deserved. I felt like I had been pushed backwards off a cliff. How could they possibly relate to me when I couldn’t relate to them?

Equally being an extrovert and an introvert, this social isolation I’d created for myself did work. For awhile. Soon, however, it became painfully clear how many people I’d pushed away and how hard I found it to reconnect. It became easier to meet new people rather than having to explain my predicament to those who already knew me.

Now that I’m understanding and accepting what brought me to this place of poverty, depression, low self-esteem, confusion and social isolation, I’m ready to start reconnecting. But fear of failure and rejection rear their ugly heads. I don’t feel I have much to offer in return.

I’d love to get your feedback on my posts. If you can relate to anything I’ve said, I’d love to hear about it.

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