I have social phobia.
I have dealt with this most of my adult life but it gets worse through time and after repeated situations where I am judged for being who I am. I'm now at an age where I am working harder to not care so much what others think of me, but for some reason I still do. And for some reason people still want to judge me.
I don't know how to be who they want me to be, I only know how to be ME. God made me, but for some reason that just isn't enough. I have never quite been good enough for others. The result of my inadequacy has been a lot of loneliness. I'm lonely because we fled to this little town ten years ago, running away from people we felt no longer wanted us anymore. Running away from the crowds of Arlington, running to a quiet little town where we could have some peace and quiet and where we could make a fresh start. But running to people we thought loved us unconditionally, only to be heartbroken. In ten years we've spent a lot of time alone. I've filled my house with animals to bring me joy and companionship. People have come and gone, but very few stick around. I have tried everything under the sun to connect with others, but the feeling was rarely reciprocated. I wasn't good enough. I have built up some really thick walls to protect my heart. People don't realize that you can get your heart broken by others, not just in a romantic situation but in life. In any social situation, anyone can get their heart broken.
I'm inadequate. I have always felt inadequate. I live inside this body that doesn't allow me to do all the things I want to do, and who would want me? I live a life of pain and people just don't want much to do with me because I cannot participate in the things I desperately wish I could. I wish I could join you in all the things that you do. I wish I could be like you and everyone else. I don't choose this or want this, but this is what I have been dealt. I am excluded all the time because of this. People just "assume" I will be in pain so I don't receive many invitations. Please don't assume. Assuming is the worst. Then when I do get invited, I stress and obsess over what the situation is going to be like, will they judge me, will I fit in, will they even like me? And then I end up with a stomach ache over it. So I end up missing an event all together. It's just too much trouble sometimes. Why should I bother putting myself out there when all I seem to do is get hurt? Who would even want me? Who wants a friend who cannot be the kind of friend I want? Would I be friends with me? Lately, I'm not so sure. My self esteem seems to be struggling pretty hard lately. I do have a lot of love in my heart for those dear to me, but that's all I can even offer at this point. I love to give but when making ends meet becomes this difficult, how can I give? What is there left to give? I have such a difficult time putting myself out there because of a lifetime of rejection and feeling not good enough, so I sometimes don't even try. When I do try, I end up making this huge fool of myself and then end up hiding in my house for a month so as to avoid the embarrassment of facing those I exposed my heart to.
Being alone seems to be my life theme. Sometimes I do cherish my alone time, but I reach out to my friends online. I feel like I can be myself with many of you I have met online. You accept me just as I am, and don't criticize, judge, or ridicule the life I lead. My life isn't an easy life. And yes, there are many out there who are SO much worse, trust me I know this. But living in this body has been very challenging. Today I may hurt, tomorrow I may feel a little better. I have no way of knowing what tomorrow is going to bring, so I do what I can today. And if I have less pain, I do what I can. Sometimes that's tending to my beloved animals. Sometimes that's cleaning the hummingbird feeders. Sometimes that's vacuuming the house or cleaning the kitchen or doing a load of laundry. I do what I can with what God has given me. I'm not a miracle worker. But then there may be a day when it feels like I've been beaten me with a baseball bat. I don't want pity or sympathy, but sometimes I just need my friends and family to reassure me that they do still love me, anyway. That they still love me even though I am not whole. Even though I'm not as good as others. Even though I cannot perform every day miracles. Despite all of my inadequacies, you still love me. Sometimes I just need to know that because deep inside, I really don't know. I need the reassurance. During a flare-up, I am suddenly all alone and people in my life pull away from me. What else am I supposed to think but that they don't love me or want me anymore? Then when the flare up is over, I wonder where everyone went. I don't reach out for help when I am struggling. I don't want to be a burden. I don't want to be a bother. But I am always shown what I mean to people when I flare. Like that post going around FB says: "If you cannot love me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best."
And sometimes I feel like I'm worthless and a nobody. I don't know who still loves me, even when I flare. Because I can always count on a spring time flare. I can sometimes be confined to my couch on and off for about a month. Sometimes less, sometimes more, but it has been happening every spring since 1999. Without fail. Every single year. So it shouldn't be a surprise to those who know me. It shouldn't be a shock when I spend a month feeling alone and depressed, not acting quite like myself. It's been this way for years and years.
When new people come into my life, they think I'm this lazy ass person who sits here on the computer all day. What I must say here is try to imagine what it must be like to be all alone and in pain, with nobody to lean on and nobody to reassure me. All alone. Except the amazing friends I like to call Angels who live in my computer. They are THERE for me. They offer me kind words, they offer me support. They play facebook games with me and send me gifts, help me complete my tasks, and I bring joy to them when I post an animal or tree that they can use for their game. Sounds kind of silly but when you live in MY body, it's those little things that mean the world to me. Try to imagine what it must feel like to be in bad pain, all alone, for about a month. And the only thing that keeps my sanity and brings me a smile is this laptop computer. Oh, people love to judge my life and the time I spend online. But you simply have no idea what life is like living inside this body.
I like to believe that I am a strong, fierce fighter. I fight this every single day. I work out, I go to therapy, I go see a chiropractor, I take vitamins and supplements, I'm improving my diet and eating a few more organic foods than I used to. I'm switching to healthier alternatives to my guilty pleasures. I am gradually eliminating some of the things that may contribute to pain. But all I can do is take life one day at a time. And trust in God. I know He has a plan for me.
I am a tough case, I admit it. I will tell anyone and everyone that I am. I even told Jim before we even dated that he didn't want to get involved with me. I'm a mess, I told him. You don't want me. He disagreed, and was willing to take on this tough case because he was already experiencing unconditional love towards me. I don't think anyone has any idea all that he does for me. He has made all of my dreams come true and then some. He works so hard for me and our fur-family. There isn't anything that he wouldn't do for me. But he is lonely, too. He has a lot of heart and would give the shirt off of his back to those he loves. But he is very protective over me. He has held me when I shed tears over rejection and heartbreak. He has always been there for me, each and every time someone walked out of my life. He has always been in my corner and on my side. He supports me in every decision I make. He lifts me up when I am down, reassures me when I am discouraged, convinces me I am worthy when I feel like I am not. He always puts me first, extends me more respect than anyone in the whole world, and has never said an unkind thing to me. He has never, ever disrespected me in any way! He helps me with some of the basic chores that may be a little bit too difficult on certain days. He is patient when I become overly frustrated with a task that is just pissing me off. He tolerates me when I am stubborn and hard headed and when I snap "I can do it myself!" He knows that when I scrub the floors that I'll be paying for it later. He tries to step in and do the job for me, but he knows I want to do it myself. He knows that when I'm determined to do something, I do it. And he knows not to try and stop me, even though I'll pay for it later. Because he knows I cannot stand feeling like a worthless waste of space. He encouraged me to leave my job in 2000 when I was struggling with the pain at work. He is loving and patient even though we cannot afford to buy all the luxuries that everyone else has. And there are always going to be the braggers in life who love to go on and on about how many things they bought and how great life is and how expensive this or that was, and Jim never complains. Ever. He never has a melt down about how our tv may not be as GREAT as everyone else's. He doesn't flip out about how we don't have all the game systems that everyone else has. He doesn't ask for anything at all! He is the most giving person I know. When a neighbor needs help with their computer, he drops everything to help them. Because that is just who he is! When my family needs help with something, we'll drive 45 minutes away so he can help them. He drives 45 minutes to work one way, every day, and he never tires of it. He never complains about it.
But here is what is sad. Because he is married to me, he is just as lonely sometimes. He doesn't have many male friends who accept him. He puts me first. He has always put me first. Males don't want anything to do with a guy who puts his wife first. So his best friends are my girlfriends. I never realized how lonely he was until he told me last fall. I just assumed he wasn't because he has interaction at work each day. But he's lost a lot of friends over the years, too.
We are both guilty of shutting people out sometimes. It's us against the world. It's always been just us. We open our doors and hearts to anyone who would want us, but here we sit alone, day in and day out. People exclude us from things because Jim works ten hour days, gets home exhausted and then spends his evenings either helping me, helping friends, or if he's lucky he'll get to put his feet up and relax for a few minutes before we have to do our night time routine. He's TIRED, and understandably so. People don't come see us. Our house is not good enough. We used to have neighbors pop in on us at Chestnut Ridge on any day of the week, they'd just show up we'd just talk about anything and everything, laugh, share, visit, just hang out. But it's just so different out here. He's so busy and too tired for people to want anything to do with him. Or too married. And I'm too much of an annoyance and too much of a burden on others. So we lean on eachother and our bond continues to strengthen, even after 15+ years together. Because most of the time, all we really have is eachother. He's my whole world, and I'm his. He deserves the whole world. He works harder than anyone I know. He goes above and beyond at his job, day in and day out. Then he comes home to help me with anything I need or help our friends with anything they need. I can't think of when he makes any time to do anything for himself. Sometimes he'll play Wii but he's been too tired to even do THAT anymore.
He has a lot to offer anyone who would have him, but because he is so busy taking care of his wife and home, and so busy working to keep us in this house, people don't want him. He's not good enough for them. Well I think it's the opposite. He is a true Gem. An extremely talented, hard working, intelligent, loving, loyal man is a true gem in this world and better than anyone else I know. Sure, he makes mistakes. Sure, he may say the wrong things. But who doesn't? Nobody is perfect, but I think my husband is about the best person I know. And people just don't know what they are missing out on. I have never, ever known anyone who is such a giver. He doesn't have a selfish bone in his body.
And then, here I am with all my issues and problems. I'm a tough case. I'm not worth someone's time and effort so they split, or I shut them out. I am tired of the hurt. Tired of rejection and feeling alone. I have tried to open up my heart and I have tried to put myself out there, but here I am once again, wanting to just be a hermit and hide out in my house. It's safe here. My animals would never hurt me the way people have. I have my laptop and my online world. Judge me if you will, but you have no idea what life is like living in this body. No idea.
I have a lot of heart and love to give those who will have me. But the result of having a big heart is that I also get hurt. If you want to hurt me and you say something with the intention of hurting me, you'll get what you want. I feel the pain with much more intensity than those who don't have big hearts. Those of us who love with all of our hearts also get hurt the most easily. I cannot change who I am just to fit in with those who are hard hearted. I've tried.
All I can do is be me. And one of these days, THAT will be enough for others. Just me, just as I am.
And Jim will be good enough for others, just as he is. Which is the most amazing individual I know.
It is time for a change. I am trying to figure out where God is leading me. I can feel it in my heart and soul that we are being led somewhere, but I just don't know where. One of my Mother's favorite sayings is "Stop doing what doesn't work." Big changes are coming and I'm scared and excited at the same time. For those of you who have stood by me through the bad times, called me when I was crying, sent me a an email when I was down, bless you and I love you for it. And thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your love and kindness means the whole world to me. There are no words that can express what you mean to me. My life is better because you are in it.