About three years ago, I began to experience a heartbreaking loss of community, and loss of my will to write things to connect with people in my ‘real life.’ Slowly, and then all at once, in an avalanche of unfortunate truth revealed, I lost a lot of people, in the realest sense one can, other than actual death. It was soul-crushing to find out that people I cared about down to my core didn’t return that care in even small fractions, and that those full-bodied friendships I thought I had were really empty.
In October of 2016, my anxiety about this (what I thought at the time was) devastating loss got so bad, I withdrew almost totally from life. I only talked to J and our son for weeks, and until late November, I could barely function at all even in routine and necessary aspects of life that required interfacing with people who didn’t live in the same house as me. It was work to go to the grocery store, even if I used self checkout. The connections I’d always made with other people, to me, felt deep, because I knew them well, and I became invested in them, but none of them ever really knew me. See, this weird set-up I have in my make-up allows me to ‘know’ people on a pretty deep level a lot of the time without them actually confiding specific details in me, but most other people don’t have my make-up. I get that. And I don’t confide specific details in very many people, at least not verbally, which is how people communicate normally. That’s something else weird about me. I’m a writer. I’m better at writing it down than I am at saying it…talking about it. And most people don’t want to read. That’s a lot of effort that feels like ‘work.’ I get it. Why can’t I just talk to them ‘like a normal person?’ Why don’t I call? Why do I need them to literally ‘read me?’ When I’m around other people, particularly in a group of other people, I rarely speak, so many of them assume, instead of shyness or nerves, that I’m judging them. Or that I’m intimidating. Or that I’m stuck up. Or closed off. Or all of those negative things. So most people don’t know me. So it’s on me that people routinely view my social anxiety manifestations as heartless and cold. I’ve been called heartless and cold so many times in so many forms by so many different people…people I consider friends (‘When I first met you, you were so *intimidating.*)…people who are supposed to love me, like my parents, referring to other family members (‘I don’t think you even love your brother…’) I don’t like this image of myself, but it feels so unnatural to me to do what I know it takes to change it. I’m not a person who feels comfortable reaching out to meet new people or to constantly be the person who does most of the work in a relationship. It’s not really me to be that person. I’m not heartless and cold, but I just can’t be that person. This is me:
Unfortunately, naturally being that person ^^^, doesn’t lend itself to many lasting connections. I know this Sam Smith song wasn’t written about friendships or family, but it’s almost exactly how I feel about nearly every connection I have in my life that didn’t begin with someone reading my writing (including J…J started as a connection through reading each other’s writing). The only strong connections I’ve formed and kept (so far) that haven’t started with a person reading my writing, are the handful of people who know about this blog and the fiction I published.
I basically owe all the deep and lasting connection I have in my life to writing. I owe every opinion of me that isn’t ‘heartless and cold’ to writing.
So thank you, to all of you who read the things I write.