It is hard work living in my head. I have this innate sense of loneliness that aches in my very core. It churns at my stomach and runs like acid through my veins, sometimes I feel like it is filling my lungs so that I can hardly breathe in the oxygen that gives me life. It seeps from my eyes in the form of heartbroken tears each and every time I learn that yet again my family and I have been left out or forgotten about. When I see my friends posting on social media about the get togethers they have been at, the ones no one thought to ask us too, it feels as though this loneliness is squeezing my throat closed, trying to choke me.
The problem is, I am so lonely, yet I am deeply socially anxious too. I struggle to be around people, afraid of when I might fall apart, scared that they are judging me or have invited me out of obligation or pity. This has only increased in the past few months, at first I kept it a secret that I had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, but slowly people started to find out, most were kind, others less so. Some suggested that I was there for attention, others implied that I should be grateful for the “break”, as if I was on some kind of holiday at a luxury health spa. Then there were those who felt that now I was on medication I should be cured, and told me as much, and said that I would be fine to come off it in a month or two as that was all they had needed.
These things left me with lasting scars, even deeper than the self harm scars that mar my wrists, hands, and arms. They left deep psychological scars, I felt that I couldn’t be around my own friends anymore because they did not understand, nor did they care enough to even try. On the surface I still look the same, I smile, I attend Christian worship, and I talk to these same people, but on the inside that loneliness is cloying. I feel invisible, forgotten, ignored even, I know that they do not want to know the deeper me, because their actions tell me so. I know they don’t feel comfortable around the personal who was so sick they had to be admitted to hospital, it makes them uneasy.
I, my family, we have become forgotten about, the last to be invited to a gathering, if we are invited at all. It is as if we have ceased to exist to those we once thought of as friends. People whose families we have loved and cared for, made meals for, called when they were sick or sad, looked after in the way that friends should look after eachother.
To feel this sense of invisibility brings with it a sense of isolation that is totally ineffable, I can’t even put it into words that make sense. It feels smothering. When it affects my family, my husband and children, it breaks my heart thoroughly. I would think maybe this is my own anxiety and insecurities talking, but even my ever practical husband has noticed it, and it doesnt stop there.
Not long ago I spent what seemed to be forever sitting with my 10 year old son in his bed as he bawled his heart out about how no one likes him or cares for him. In his own words he explained, between sobs, that he feels like he is invisible and wishes he had never been born. My heart broke, this, my baby, 10, growing up in a loving home where he is nurtured and encouraged, is feeling as though his life is meaningless because people do not stop and take the time to see him, to talk to him, to notice his life. He spoke the words I feel in my own heart, and there was such powerlessness within my soul as I tried to comfort him.
The loneliness and disappointment, the continued isolation and being excluded, the pain and fear of being a burden have made it so that when we are thought of, when someone does invite us somewhere, I feel this overwhelming sense of anxiety that often I can not bring myself to leave the house when the time comes. Instead feeling physically ill from the fear of being around those who have backed away. I feel like such an enigma, “Leave me alone, I am lonely… but I am also scared that you didn’t really want me here, and that you wish I’d not come.”. I just wish for those I have thought of as friends to want to include me, to include my family, like I would include them, even if I knew they may not come, I would still include them.
They say that as you change, so does your circle. I think my circle is changing indeed, but I don’t really understand how to cope with it yet. It has always been important to me to be kind, to care for others and the thought of giving up on trying to rekindle these friendships is very hard to accept. I have tried to keep my friends to those within my religious faith, generally it works well because they have similar thoughts and feelings on life that I would, and leads to harmony within relationships, but as time is going by I am finding myself drawn to those who instead are showing by their actions how beautiful they are inside their soul.
It is hard to find your circle of people, I thought that by the time I was 30 I would know exactly who I was and who my friends were. I never expected to still be trying to find my place in this world, to feel so totally alone except for my husband and kids, and one or two close friends. Maybe one day I’ll be able to know exactly where my place is and who I am, but for now I am just focusing on figuring out if I am worthy of having friends, or if there is some fatal flaw within me that I don’t know about which has me in this predicament.