Warning: This is not a travel blog, nor is it upbeat or bubbly or glib. I’m in a painful place these days and need to fumble my way through it, looking for hope and answers.
This is a continuation of yesterday’s post.
Today I find myself wading through unbearable sorrow as I continue to experience the ripples and consequences of choices and mistakes made from within the angst of the social ineptitude that has been the bane of my life for as long as I can remember. Time after time, throughout my life, I’ve experienced these spirals downward into a dark pit of ruthless reproaches and reminders of what a nuisance my social discomfort and ineptitude are to the people who try to break through all the well-honed defenses and impenetrable briar bushes that have long been my buffer zone between the safety of my solitude and the relentless call to also be in relationship with others. When the discomfort becomes more overwhelming than the socializing is comforting, I panic, react, push the discomfort away and escape. This has been my pattern for so long, that more than one of my therapists over the years has told me quite bluntly that even they didn’t know how to break through those fortresses.
So at some point I knew that I had to work from within my own self to dismantle those defenses and barriers. Allowing myself to believe that I could be lovable was a huge step in the right direction. It took me years, but I finally found myself able to relax against my husband’s love and allow that experience of love to melt away some of my iron-clad mistrust. That in turn opened me more and more to believe that God really meant it when He said He loved me. It wasn’t until I began the long trek into healing enough to be able to love my own self that I really began to see a difference. And then it seemed that these experiences of love, hubby and God’s, along with my own new willingness to stop hating myself enough to infuse some compassion and patience with my foibles and fumblings all combined to open my heart to the possibility of being able to be in healthy relationships with others as well.
Is there any need to say that it has been the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do? As I wrote in yesterday’s post, I honestly don’t believe that I’m ever going to be able to successfully navigate those social mores or be anywhere close to “enough” for anyone anywhere. Over and over again, despite working hard to learn the social skills I need in order to survive “out there”, the norms and mores continue to confound and elude my ability to conform.
Today, I feel like I’m suffocating. The price of my ineptitude is soul-boggling. When I do that thing of pushing anything or anyone discomforting away, it always has long-term, usually irreparable consequences. Many times, this kind of spiraling has resulted in a full-blown breakdown into clinical depression (I’ve suffered from dysthemia, or low-grade depression for most of my life) which would last for months (or even years), so I never really felt the sorrow of those social consequences because I was too busy surviving.
The difference this time is that I have come such a long way in many regards. First, I’ve been able to manage my dysthemia so well that it doesn’t seem to be in any danger of escalating this time, thank God!!! So for that, I’m very grateful. But the other major difference is that I’ve also come a long way socially, to the point of actually finding a good stability and even sanctuary within some vibrant loving social circles. So when I pushed against the discomfort, and saw all the walls come crumbling down and everything I cherish scatter beyond my reach again, I realized that this time the consequences of my ineptitude would be far more tangible – and therefore more agonizing – than ever before.
So now the question I face is what to do. As I wrote yesterday, giving up is not the choice, Wallowing will only lead to succumbing to futility (aka, giving up). So all that’s left is to somehow keep going. But my question is, how? How do I learn from all of this, how do I figure out what it is in me that needs to be healed so that I don’t keep making these same mistakes over and over and over again. This is my search now. To dig around in this rubble and try once again to root out the “thing”, that intrinsic wrongness, that keeps me from being able to develop, cultivate and maintain healthy social relationships. What is it in me that instinctively pushes people away before they hurt me beyond my capability to bounce back? Is there such a thing? To be hurt beyond one’s capability to bounce back? We’re very resilient, our human spirit is more resilient than we often give ourselves credit for. So is there even a realistic basis for that fear?
Is there self-sabotaging going on? What undercurrents are at play here? That’s what I need to forage for. That’s where maybe some of the answers lie. I don’t know. I’ve already been there, done that and haven’t yet found the key to unlocking that mystery. Is it even a once-and-for-all key? Is there one single thought process or memory block or undercurrent of belief that is at the core of all of this ineptitude and angst?
I don’t know. I know that even asking these questions has eased that sense of suffocation.
Maybe fumbling through the rubble isn’t such a crazy idea after all.