When people disappear

Something which I still have real difficult to get is disappearing people. Mind me, I have had three people literally disappear from my life this year. I just do not get it. I am not talking about some tinder dates that I never met in real life. I am talking about people with whom I communicated at least half a year.

This feeling of disappearing people is not new at all. People must not physically disappear, they can also disappear emotionally, at some point, from the relationship. I think my ex disappeared emotionally at some point. Nevertheless, in defense for my ex, he has actually been one of the most persistent people in my life and despite our breakup, I do trust him. So I would never count him on the list of disappearing people. However, plenty of friends, plenty of people in general, seem to have no problem just vanishing without saying goodbye.

I have a hard time dealing with it. I seem to develop bonds with people and care about them all too easily. I have mixed feelings about it. Part of me thinks it is a benefit that I care about people. Part of me thinks that it is stupid, especially when it is not reciprocated. I don’t really know how to hit the right balance, because obviously I tend to care more about people than they care about me.

So ultimately disappearing is just a sign that they did not care. What else would communicate not caring better than someone just stepping out of your life. Perhaps I am over interpreting, because I can never see what is happening from their side. Perhaps they are suffering as well, but find that the relationship (here I mean all kinds of relationships) is irredeemable. However, some part of me doubts it. I feel that I can have a lot of faults, but being unwilling to learn, compromise and negotiate upon conflict, is not one of those. So, I think my evaluation about someone that is stepping out my life not caring is quite right.

The question is – how do I find these people. How do I find people that obviously seem to have no problem treating my emotions as irrelevant and treating our communication as some treaty where one can just extract as much value as possible and then disappear? Am I being unfair to these people? I really do not know. All I know is that the pattern really needs to change. I am unwilling to engage in relationships where I care much more than the other side at this point. I think I deserve more.

What to do when you feel life is unfair?

So I have been harboring these feelings quite long in my life. I used to be jealous of girls who were popular and smart. It felt to me that they had it all. I never wanted them to do bad, I just found it so unfair that while I had struggle, everything came so easy to them. Furthermore, their beauty and popularity actually even motivated teachers to treat them better. So I felt like I was working for nothing and nobody cared about my hard work. Those who already had so much just continued to get more.

My opinion is that life is unfair and it is better for ourselves that we admit this. It was much easier for me to accept it in terms of social class. I found it extremely unfair that some people are born in really bad economic conditions and others can enjoy the riches. Furthermore, those that are born economically privileged do not want to admit that they have a privilege, but instead keep saying that the poor just did not try hard enough. This was easy for me to accept because it felt clear to me (unlike to so many other middle class people).

However, it has been a real challenge for me to accept that even though I was born to lower middle class parents, I had so many other challenges which I have had to overcome.  I had a pretty bad childhood, especially when compared to other middle class members. Furthermore I have had several health conditions which I have struggled with my whole life and I have had many other troubles just coming to me when grownup.

It is usual for me to get an unempathic attitude from other people. Similarly than with social class background, people who have been lucky in life, either by having good parents or just getting good opportunities without much effort, do not want to admit this. Instead, they go out of their way to say that you must have just not worked hard enough, be good enough or are making a fuss about a small thing.

However, I understood that it was not only other that treated my problems that way. I, myself, treated myself in this manner. I would often put myself down for not having come further in life. I would tell to myself when I was feeling bad about another unluck that I am just making too big of a deal. That my emotions are wrong. That somehow maybe I have not worked hard enough…

Lately I have come to understand that I have actually reason to feel under privileged. I have had much more trauma and drama in my life than most people I know. In fact I still have more unluck than most people next to me. I think allowing oneself to accept that yes, life is unfair and sometimes one really has bad luck, will set you free in many ways. You will stop blaming yourself for the things which might not be your fault to begin with. You will stop taking responsibility for many things which might have been outside of your control. Of course I do not advocate victimization here, but I think our society often times blames people all too easily of victimization. Sometimes people really are victims and then it is a real assholish move to tell to this person – well you should have done X differently or you just did not try hard enough.

It is Ok to want to be loved

I think current self-development literature is often counterproductive towards those with low self-esteem and feelings of unlovability. Namely you can read from everywhere how you need to love yourself first, how other people cannot be solutions to your self-esteem issues and how in general you should just work harder on yourself if you feel that way. Let me tell how these sentiments have impacted me.

First, they have made me feel ashamed for wanting to be loved. You feel as if there is something so deeply wrong with you for not feeling it inside you and for seeking other people to love you. Second, they have me be stuck with guys that were either totally unavailable or ultimately did not love me. I just assumed that me feeling unloved in these relationships was my deep personal problem and maybe, actually these guys did love me, I was just too needy. Furthermore, since I was notoriously broken and had this deep ingrained issue of not being able to provide for myself, what other people did, maybe I did not even deserve a loving man?

It is easy to stress on self-sufficiency and the need to love oneself and not be dependent on someone else’s love if you have had a good loving family. It is clear that if you felt support throughout your childhood, you also developed self-compassion, empathy and healthy self-esteem, so you probably do not need to seek for these feelings in other people. However, coming from that position and telling to people that spent their childhood feeling unloved, that they should not look for other people to feel loved is pretty short sighted. It is almost like telling to a five year old kid that they should just love and provide for themselves and be more independent and not rely on their parents. Usually that was how these kids that felt unloved got treated. They got told that their dependency needs as well as ingrained wish for love from their parents was inappropriate or downright bad.

So here is my suggestion as to what people that have felt unloved their whole life need. Instead of telling them to learn to love themselves, I think we should tell them that they in fact did miss out on something big. It is OK for them to feel unloved and look for love, because they in fact were never coddled and loved. There is nothing and absolutely nothing wrong with how they are feeling, because it is rather an accurate representation of reality. Hence, there should be no shame around feeling unloved. It should be acknowledged that there is a strong reason why someone does feel unloved and there is a strong reason for them to look for love outside. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be loved by other people, because most people that judge you for being needy or feeling unloved had the very same desires, the difference is just that those desires were met.

Social anxiety and female competition

So social anxiety is something I have suffered from my whole life. Mind me, most of the time I was unaware that I was suffering from it, because I thought it was normal to every time when one is going to the party try to suppress the overwhelming anxiety. Try to tell to yourself that everything will be OK. I also thought  it was normal to always want to have some friend or boyfriend with me, as emotional support.

Let me tell you, this is not normal. This is not how most people feel. This is ultimately also not how I want to feel. However, I still feel that way.

Do not make a mistake of assuming that I am a bad communicator. I think I am actually quite good, socially. It is just that every time I go to social event, I remember my early and teenage years of relentless bullying and it my mind, it will all just repeat itself.

I really do not have good ten minute advice on how to combat the situation. Believe me, I, myself, am surprised that I still struggle with it, even after all these years of therapy. However, being aware of it, I will try to work on this next.

My anxiety is mostly about girls. I know, how to handle guys. Not a single guy has ever bullied me. I usually get along perfectly with guys (unless they are my boyfriends…..Ok that was a joke). But girls….

Take the last event that I participated. I was joking around with some guys and they made it more sexual than it needed to be. However, I caught all these judgemental looks from other girls. Well, mind me, the first girl was already judging me because of my profession, telling me that what I do is pointless. I mean, why? I still cannot understand what makes someone tell to the other person that their day job is not worth anything….

But the problem is, I feel threatened by the looks and by the words from these girls. It reminds me of my school years. I know that if one girl takes a disliking towards you, they will be able to collect a lot of their friends and convince them to hate you too. It is that simple. It never works like that with guys, but with girls the pack-mentality is just so much stronger. Plus, I seem to somehow be good at making girls my enemies and even after 30 years, I have no idea why and how. There is always this one girl at the party that takes an instant disliking towards me.

So, parties for me are stressful because of girls. If it was a party filled with guys, I would go there without a care in the world. I really struggle to see how come, my ’enemies’ are always girls. I don’t think it is because I am super charming or hot, there is something else at play here. I am not even sure if the solution to my problem would be to work on the reason girls tend to dislike me or to work on me caring so much and being intimitated by it.

Don’t get me wrong, I have good female friends. I am not one of those people, who hangs out only with guys, thinking that girls are stupid. In the latter case I would understand why other girls might dislike me, but currently it really is a mystery.

The gifts of child abuse

I think one of the signs that you are getting to the final phase of your healing is when you actually start noticing that your early life difficulties have brought you some innate gifts. I am not sure I am completely ready to write about the gifts I have gained through my experiences yet, but let that be my first attempt.

I feel that I can actually see the two worlds. It is difficult to explain this to a person that has not experienced it all. I can see the world of depression, self-hate, anxiety attacks and dysfunctionality. I can relate to all kinds of dysfunctional coping mechanisms starting from alcohol abuse and ending with suicidal thoughts. I can also now after years of therapy experience and see the world on the other side. The lighter being (I am still not finished with my therapy), the feeling of self-love etc.

I think there have been two radical changes of experience during the last year. The first one is moving from feeling incomplete and unlovable into actually feeling whole. This deep feeling of emptiness and sadness and wanting someone to love me so that this sadness would go away (only it never did), it is actually gone. The second change of perspective is moving from being terrified of being alone and being certain that I will never cope alone into being OK with spending time alone. Being OK with living alone and enjoying my evenings in solitude.

Most people that have two aforementioned gifts take it for granted and fail to ever understand other people that suffer from abandonment fear and unlovability. That is how you get stupid advices such as – you should just be yourself or have you thought of exercising more or drinking warm tea. The experience itself is soo alien to the ones that have never gone through it. Not often they also judge and look down on people that lead dysfunctional lives. The compassion is missing and even if it is there, there is a lack of understanding as to what one is compassionate about.

So, I feel I have been given a gift of seeing both worlds. This means that maybe once I have gone through my struggles, I can actually help someone else. I can definitely function as a non judgmental guide already now, but I think I still have a way to go. Not only can I understand and help others that struggle, but I also value the feeling of being complete, the feeling of being able to be alone. I have had to fight so hard for it that it feels nothing but sort of amazing. I doubt that average person gives much meaning to it at all.

Finally, I think that with child abuse and therapy comes a different kind of way of viewing your life. I see my life as a lesson. I am not looking for happiness, I am looking for growth. I am not sure if that is better or worse, it is just different. It is the way I have managed to handle therapy all these years, even when it was very difficult. I just kept comparing myself with myself one year ago and felt proud of my development. I still hold this approach. I think if nothing else, it helps me to make sense of other life difficulties as well. I see a lesson everywhere. I analyze a lot. I think ultimately this is going to make me me. This is who I am going to be and this is maybe how I can be useful for others as well, by helping them to make sense of difficulties as well!