Among the most inconvenient Life Traps in my life might be Social Isolation. One of the biggest contributors in my life for the majority of my life has been the sense of not belonging anywhere, and together with Traps like Mistrust and Pessimism, it becomes hard to even think about being in any way social.
A brief summary based on what the book, Tunne Lukkosi by Kimmo Takanen, tells us of the Life Trap of Alienation:
I often feel anxious in social situations and that makes me avoid them. I feel as though I’m not fitting in, that I’m somehow different, and new people make me nervous and afraid of doing something wrong. This anxiety makes me think about what other people might think of me, and while I withdraw from the light to protect myself from these awkward and scary situations, it often enhances feeling like an outsider and alone. On the other side of the coin, I feel more comfortable in my close relationships and when I’m conversing with one or two people.
I might go after an occupation that doesn’t call for a lot of interactions (such as housewifery and writing in my case), taking distance from society and becoming somewhat of a hermit in the process. As a lone wolf, I keep telling myself I don’t need anyone to survive and keep feeling like an alien even in my own circles such as family. Being alone comes naturally, though I crave a closer connection to humanity. Without many friends, I rely a lot on my partner to gain this connection.
I may compensate for the Life Trap by being demanding and by seeking approval. I tend to put on my mask to fit in better in groups, tend to try and overachieve and start pleasing others for that approval. Yet, when this fails my inner bad feeling gets validated and I avoid social situations more, as I don’t want to feel like an outsider.
I never belonged.
As a child, I had plenty of playmates in cousins, and when I went to school I had a group of girls that hang out together. But, as with everything, it came to a rather abrupt end. There were no more visits to or from relatives, and my group of friends cast me out. After that, I must’ve been around the age of 12 or 13, I pretty much lost my faith in ever belonging anywhere.
I did make some friends later in school and vocational as well as the internet, but these days my relationships with the people are gathering dust and getting weaker by the moment. I might say that I have acquaintances, and I have my husband.
This completely messed up reality of a child probably contributed a lot to the fact that I am extremely uncomfortable in social situations. With one person I can talk since I trust that I can get a word in, but with two or more I take the back seat and listen, often without saying anything unless asked specifically. While there is some of what the book said in my behavior (being afraid of doing something wrong) These days it’s mostly about thinking that I have nothing worthy to contribute to the conversation. The sad fact is that this situation is an improvement for me.
I used to be told to ‘’behave”.
This was in my first long relationship. From the get-go I was told to behave, to not be or do anything weird, to be, well, normal. And if you know me you’d know that my normal is a bit different from the ‘’proper citizen’’ image people seem to be so fond of. My liked topics and passions of dark fantasy and the peculiarities of the world are hardly fit to be spoken about at the ‘’proper people’s” dinner table. I remember once I got asked about my current writing project by one of the ex’s family, and I froze up. There was no way I could bring up the mangled legs and overly erotical situations going on in my story.
So, for over a decade I pretended not to be me. It goes without saying that this kind of environment is not very healthy, and I came from an unhealthy place to begin with. I became the outsider I believed I was.
With the help of that ex, my interactions with my friends and family became less, while the ones online increased. I became isolated from reality and while I thought it was my own choice, I kept being painfully lonely, as not even my partner would spend time with me. I was locked inside a room, inside my mind, and only let out if I was able to ‘’behave’’, which was not often.
The room was dark and full of terrors.
I was depressed, and desperate to be seen. I kept feeling like nobody wanted me, nobody missed me, nobody cared if I was alive or dead. Except for the internet. My multitude of misguided online ‘’friendships’’ with people that were not around me for my amazing intelligence and passion for writing. They were there because they could use me.
Now was a pain to realize for someone like me who idolizes the shit out of people sometimes (another lovely borderline trait, idolizing/thinking you are the devil), but I got it eventually. I had tried to please so many people that I got burned out. The world of online gaming is truly an effort, especially when you are the crafting/material gathering slave for a community.
The instant I started to even think about taking care of my own health, people would turn and make me guilty for it. The roles given to me overthrew the role I already had, myself. It saddens me to think how I put myself in that situation of forcing myself to become something more likable to the kind of people that I was replaceable to. And the lesson learned, being superficially liked gave me no true happiness.
Then I got embraced.
In all of this madness and pain, I got married. With the experience of being an outcast, someone who will always be kicked out of groups, who won’t be accepted as who I am, I joined another family. Let me tell you, they blew me out of my reality.
Much like my husband, who came crashing down to my delusion and revealed the true world behind it, his family has shown such warmth that I don’t seem to be able to handle it. These people, across the world, embraced me in a way I have never experienced before.
I come from a completely different part of the world, a different culture, but yet, as my husband keeps telling me, I’m a Vana now. It is hard to keep writing, thinking about the kindness and amazing acceptance that my husband’s mother and grandfather, the ones that he reveres over everything, have shown me. Me, an outsider. Pfff the emotions! One day I’ll be able to talk with them without feeling afraid.
But for now, I gotta go dry my tears and give a hug to my husband.
Have you ever felt like an outsider? Let us know in the comments!
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2 thoughts on “Life Traps | Pt. 17: Alienation”
Awesome blog as always, I felt like an outsider with my sisters, well my whole family to be exact. I faked being like them. I even faked laughing to be included. The thing is I’ll never feel comfortable, safe, or one of the family. Sometimes, I think who are my REAL folks? I’m so different from the rest. As I got older and married, I’m being me. No more faking!
The art of fake smiles and laughter was something I learned as well. It’s such a rough road to take, trying to be liked and like everyone else. I’m happy that you’ve found a place where you can feel safe being yourself!