Pushing People Away

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ToreyP

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Pushing People Away
« on: September 24, 2017, 02:54:55 AM »
I hope someone else can relate to this.  I'm sure they can.

I hate having friends.  I used to feel so conflicted because I wanted to feel some kind of connection with others - to feel liked for who I am, etc.  I would watch others hanging out with their friends and the relationships that they had and would feel jealous of it because I didn't think anyone would ever want to be my friend or voluntarily stay around me.

I avoided people throughout my childhoood and before I dropped out of Uni (I had maybe one or two people I counted as friends, and only associated with them at the communal school locations, etc.).

Then I grew up and spent most of my adult life caring for my grandparents and those were the happiest years of my life.  Just them and me way out in the woods away from anybody.  And then I met my wife and I did something crazy - I left everyone and everything I knew to move across the world to Australia to be with her.

I got my first job in nearly 10 years here.  I started working and something odd happened - people actually LIKED me.  They liked being around me.  I was caught off guard the first time someone invited me to hang out with them.  And that's when the avoidance began...

I get paralysed with fear just thinking about hanging out with them.  For a number of reasons:

  • Having to leave the house.  I hate the thought of having to leave my house for anything other than work or shopping.
  • It's usually not just them.  They often have their other friends there, too.  People who I don't know or don't know well.  This stimulates my social anxiety and I usually end up not saying much or being magnetised to my friend the whole time.
  • Fearing that the more time I spend with these people, the less they'll like me.  Like they'll find out who I "really" am and just how dysfunctional of a person I am.  That the fake me from work is not something that I can sustain for very long and it drains me.

So now...I hate having friends because of these things.  I end up not answering their phone calls, FB messages, etc. and making up some excuse why because I'm too afraid to tell them the truth.  That a ringing phone triggers my flashbacks and I keep it on silent because of this.  That I'm too scared to be put on the spot and asked to go out because I know I'll say "yes" even though I don't want to - I'm a people-pleaser. 

I just feel exhausted having friends.  Then I feel guilty for pushing them away.   I just want my house, my wife and our cats.  Safe things.  :'(

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Sceal

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Re: Pushing People Away
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2017, 07:07:31 AM »
Hello ToreyP.

Such a brave thing to move across the world to a whole new place, I am sure there is quite a bit of difference in culture as well.

Avoidance and anxiety often go hand in hand, and it's hard to seperate them. Though as far as I know, to get rid of anxiety you have to expose yourself to it. In controlled masses. Is there a way you could limit your exposure to these new people in your life? Like only join in for certain activities once in a while? In a way enough to make them not push you, and you get a chance to explore this new side of life? Having people in our life, especially supportive ones, will help us heal from the wounds and scars we carry.
I'm not a very big fan of groups and crowds of people, and I tire easily if I have to socialize alot. I usually only join in if it's a one-on-one kind of event, or we're max 3 people. Sometimes, for special occations, that doesn't do though. I'm filled with social anxiety, though over the years it's become easier to handle. And I'm also an introvert, prefering the company of books or the woods.  :)

You're also describing something that is reminding me of imposter syndrom. The fear of people finding out you're not the one they think you are. Or you're not as good as you make it out to be. That you're a fraud. Maybe you can look into this? See if that can help you a bit?

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Candid

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Re: Pushing People Away
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2017, 02:58:38 PM »
I get it, ToreyP.

  • Having to leave the house.
 

I can leave the house okay (because H and I are currently 'living' with my MIL, and it's *) but I refuse point blank to go anywhere unless I know I can get home at any time under my own steam.  IOW, I need to know the way to the exit.

  • It's usually not just them.  They often have their other friends there, too.

Yeah.  Can't do that, nor can I explain why to the people who've invited me.  That being said, I was recently heading to a pub with my bestie when she said: "A gay couple I know will be joining us later.  You're going to love them."  She was right, I did.  So you need the inviters to know you very well, and you need to trust them sufficiently that you know they won't put you with people who are Seriously Crass.  That's a big call -- especially for a non-Australian in Australia.  I lived there for years, and the Ocker idea of humour regularly offended and upset me.

  • the fake me from work is not something that I can sustain for very long and it drains me.

Yes.  My whole life is an acting job, and if I'm tired eg. at the end of a busy work day, I just can't do it.  It doesn't matter if people continue to want to see me after I've broken down in tears; I'm mortified, so I no longer feel okay around them.

I have a fourth: the knowledge that I 'disappear'.  I cringe admitting it, but I adopt mannerisms, accents and even the values of people I spend too much time with.  One time I worked with a woman who pronounced every R as a W, and within hours I had the same speech impediment -- but only when she was present, and I'm sure it must have offended her.  This makes it absolutely intolerable for me to sit in the same room as someone ranting about queers, blacks, or the-holocaust-never-happened.

I'm aware this is a huge boundaries issue, but for now all I can do is be careful of the company I keep.  I no longer feel distressed when I have to confess how few good friends I have.  I tell them I value quality over quantity, because it's true.

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I'm too scared to be put on the spot and asked to go out because I know I'll say "yes" even though I don't want to - I'm a people-pleaser.

You and me both, Torey, but I suspect I'm older than you are and I've noticed that my doormat behaviours never pleased anyone.  Quite the reverse, in fact.

Just my thoughts.

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Three Roses

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Re: Pushing People Away
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2017, 03:38:56 PM »
Torey - o man do I identify with this post!! I live in a rural area where we are transplants, but my hubby is gregarious and has met a ton of people that he drags home. Ick. But at least on my own turf, I can excuse myself and hide.

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Blueberry

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Re: Pushing People Away
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2017, 07:11:04 PM »
I adopt mannerisms, accents and even the values of people I spend too much time with.  One time I worked with a woman who pronounced every R as a W, and within hours I had the same speech impediment -- but only when she was present

Holy Moly, I do this too! At least wording and mannerisms. The accents continue in my head when the person is no longer present. I'm not a good mimic, so that's why I don't do them out loud very noticeably. I don't think I adopt values though. What a piece of luck. But in my head, these accents/wording/ mannerisms  - drives me up the wall. I think it's when my personal boundaries are in a shaky state. It's certainly time for me to go off on my own and reground when I notice I'm 'adopting'.

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Sceal

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Re: Pushing People Away
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2017, 07:16:56 PM »
I adopt mannerisms, accents and even the values of people I spend too much time with.  One time I worked with a woman who pronounced every R as a W, and within hours I had the same speech impediment -- but only when she was present

Holy Moly, I do this too! At least wording and mannerisms. The accents continue in my head when the person is no longer present. I'm not a good mimic, so that's why I don't do them out loud very noticeably. I don't think I adopt values though. What a piece of luck. But in my head, these accents/wording/ mannerisms  - drives me up the wall. I think it's when my personal boundaries are in a shaky state. It's certainly time for me to go off on my own and reground when I notice I'm 'adopting'.

This isn't an unusual thing. Non-traumatic people do this as well (of course there are varying degrees of it). It's alot similar to what children does when they are trying to learn to speak. They imitate the sound that the adults around them are saying. And in adult form we do it subconciously, to imitate others, so we wont alienate them. That the others will feel a kind of "kinship" with us. It doesn't really work, either you're insulting or you're being laughed at. But it's not really a concious  thing. I used to do it alot when it came to dialects and to other, similar, languages to my own. It's possible to practice not doing it so much, but you'll have to be concious about it yourself, and correct yourself alot.  :hug: It's annoying, I know, but you're not alone in this! :)

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Candid

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Re: Pushing People Away
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2017, 06:54:19 AM »
in adult form we do it subconciously, to imitate others, so we wont alienate them. That the others will feel a kind of "kinship" with us. It doesn't really work, either you're insulting or you're being laughed at. But it's not really a concious  thing.

I agree.  For way too long I was so desperate for something approaching a family that I was anyone's.  I think I'm getting better at boundaries.  I sure hope so!

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goblinchild

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Re: Pushing People Away
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2017, 06:53:28 PM »
I see this tread is a couple days old, but I wanted to add something that I've learned recently that might help. I'm the same way ToreyP described, and for a while I was forcing myself into situations because I knew with anxiety you have to kind of..acclimate yourself to uncomfortable things. But I learned that I was actually avoiding people because I wasn't being freely expressive and open about how I was feeling. Any time I felt uncomfortable, in pain, bored, any negative thing at all, I would just stuff the feeling down and internalize it because part of me really couldn't understand the concept of anyone caring about my feelings or pain. I felt like the most natural response from people to my own discomfort would be inconvenience, alienation or disgust because those responses were things I experienced about trauma. 
I understand now that I have to learn to be more vulnerable and open about how I feel in any given moment. In other words I can't stuff my feelings if I don't want to be miserable around others. I'm not sure how it's going to work, being that when I'm around others I mostly just feel anxiety but it at least feels like a relief to have something to work towards.

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Piou

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Re: Pushing People Away
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2017, 09:38:40 PM »
I second what goblinchild is mentioning. I also came to the conclusion that I deep down believe that people will not accept me as I am, that they'll push me away if I show who I really am ( my true feelings, emotions, desires, etc) and so I avoid others. I was chronically and systematically victimized, made to feel like a ''loser'' for just opening my mouth. Understandably, I felt like I had to become someone else to protect myself.

I don't know if you can relate to this to some degree but I understand exactly what you are referring to. The act got too tiring for me too so I just let the friendships fade away.

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ah

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Re: Pushing People Away
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2017, 06:27:40 PM »
Hi ToreyP,

I feel the same. One thing you wrote in particular caught my eye, that you feel uneasy when there are more people, new people, a crowd, all the mess of responding to lots of social cues. Could it also be because you're just really introverted? I'm very introverted and it's taken me years and year to learn I was born this way, it's not a problem to be fixed or overcome. It just means I get tired in noisy environments but get energized when I do solitary activities. When I'm especially scared or triggered then it feels like full blown social anxiety, but even when I'm not, small talk and parties are my ultimate idea of *. It doesn't make me anti social, just quiet. When I meet people whose pace is more like mine, I do tend to feel much more comfortable.

Besides, Australia is noisy. The language may be similar but the culture is really different.

There are advantages to being quiet. If you happen to be in the mood for a serious conversation, I'm your best bet. But if I have to push myself to be someone I'm not, to joke around with a bunch of strangers, then I'll shut down, sit in a corner and wait for it to be over and feel like a freak. I prefer quieter settings. Besides, group joyfulness and giggling are unbearable for me, I just don't do shiny-happy. It depresses me half to death.

I also feel anxious in crowds... it can be nerve wrecking. I've come to slowly pick and choose the people who can become closer, quieter friends.












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ToreyP

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Re: Pushing People Away
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2017, 02:49:14 AM »
Thank you all for the support and feedback.  It's strangely comforting knowing that I'm not alone in feeling this way.

I definitely believe I am an introvert and am just starting to be "okay" with not socialising - the hardest part is my inability to not see myself as a freak when others don't understand why I can't/won't go out.

Saw an ex-co-worker and friend at work who's been messaging me on Facebook to come catch up.  I was honestly gobsmacked and didn't have anything much to say.  All I could think about was that she must hate me because I've been ignoring her messages and not committing to catching up!  I wish I could be like my grandmother.  She never cared what anyone thought about her!

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Sceal

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Re: Pushing People Away
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2017, 06:00:36 AM »
I wish I could be like my grandmother.  She never cared what anyone thought about her!
I got a feeling that we will all get to that stage of our lives when we get older. My grandma cared alot about what people said, but she didn't let it stop her. And she carried on regardless. I've met alot of people who's gone through life and they all say more or less the same thing. At some point they stopped caring what other people thought. So, I take it that there are hope for us yet, for those of us who care too much. :)

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Gwyon

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Re: Pushing People Away
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2017, 07:56:56 PM »
My whole life is an acting job, and if I'm tired eg. at the end of a busy work day, I just can't do it. 

My oh my do I get this! I'm so glad to hear others articulate this.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 03:07:29 AM by Gwyon »