As mentioned previously, I've had some epiphanies quite recently. Here is another:
I want to talk to you, so why don't I call you?
I visited a small support group for chronic illness last week, which was an amazing experience because we all spoke the same language. We used the same phrases without having to explain ourselves, we shared similar emotions and histories, we listened to each other without question, we spoke without having to defend ourselves. Still, there were new ideas. I cannot stress enough how important talking out loud can be to getting your mind to think in a slightly different way so that you can come up with new solutions.
The subject of isolation came up, and hearing someone else talk about it allowed me to think about my own isolation differently. I know that I am mostly to blame for my own isolation, because I push people away. I don't want to talk about myself, so I remain quiet. For some reason I open up to strangers more easily than to friends or loved ones. Why?
It's simple really. I don't want to burden anyone. I don't want to be a complainer. And I am so wrapped up in these things that I'm not saying, that I don't know what else to say. I see the only two ways I can contribute to conversations is to either (a) bring everyone down, or (b) bore people to death.
But I do want to talk to people. "I don't want to talk about myself" is a lie. I am so desperate to talk about myself that I open up to strangers. I've been known to freak people out by revealing too much too soon upon meeting them. So why aren't I talking to you, my friends and family?
Because I need your permission. I am so out of the loop, so down on myself, feeling so guilty for being such a crap companion, that I just won't open my mouth and say anything of any real consequence. I will sit there and quietly listen to you talk for hours if you like - I find it kind of enjoyable. But to talk back about myself, I need one of two things to happen:
1. if you mention feelings or problems or a history similar to that which I'm keeping to myself, it's like lighting a fire on a cartoon bomb: the desire to talk will burn through me until finally I can't stand it anymore and I'll blurt something out. If you don't immediately shut me down, I can become positively manic in my need to say as much as possible about myself as quickly as possible.
2. if you ask me about myself, something pointed and direct, or just express a genuine interest in my emotional state, the floodgates will open and be quiet impossible to shut down again. See above under "manic".
Permission... where on earth did that come from?? I've never felt the need for permission for anything else in my life. So why do I lock up my mouth when I'm around the people I care about? I put on a fake smile, a pleasant demeanor, and keep to myself. I've become fed up with the fake emotions over the past few years, but kept up the silence for the most part. Which has led to me looking miserable but not telling anyone why. Facebook and this blog occassionally allow me the illusion of distance to say things I normally wouldn't reveal so easily to the people I care about. But not enough. Not enough to change this pattern I've created for myself.
On top of all of this immediately came another epiphany: just because I don't know what to say, that doesn't mean you wouldn't like to hear from me, or that I wouldn't enjoy hearing from you. In fact, I'm so set in my ways, I relish hearing other people talk about themselves. But because of guilt and this need for permission vs. a desire to hide, I don't call people and I rarely pick up the phone when people call me.
So, here's a solution: call people. Talk to people. Answer the god damned phone once in awhile.
This will also help with epiphany #3: despite not wanting to burden you with my problems, I need people in my life that I can share this burden with. What is the point of loving someone if I can't trust them with the truth? I want to talk to you because I'm lonely, but I need to talk to you because I can't do this alone any more.
On Monday I drove to Port Orchard to see my mother, and we also had lunch with my sister. We talked about cats and home ownership and pest control. We each mentioned a little about our health. My mother and I seem to have developed this pattern of not discussing our health and mental state to each other. We're each hiding bits of ourselves for reasons I'm not sure either of us knows about anymore.
I'm not fixed, all new and shiny and ready to take on the world once more. But it's a step, and for once it's in the right direction.