Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Trueself’s Appalling Lack of Social Skills

Or Why Trueself has no Friends

The last few therapy sessions we have dealt with (as I sat with arms crossed in front of me; can you say body language?) my lack of friends. Perhaps you could have guessed that from some of my recent posts here. In addition, I attended a lecture last month at school on the topic of bullying. I shuddered a few times during the talk as I vividly relived memories from my childhood. What is amazing to me though is that during that lecture was the first time I ever got the message (it may have been said to me before, but I never got it before) that what happened to me as a kid was (1) completely wrong and (2) not my fault.

This particular topic can cause me more tears than almost any other. My perception of myself is that I am a complete and utter failure at being a friend. The conclusion I draw from that is that I am completely unlikable and not worthy of friendship. (Yes, I tend to overgeneralize a lot and always look on the negative side of things. What of it?) The truth of the matter is that I am so scared of being hurt by people that when friendship gets too close I immediately and definitively push it away. Better for me to push others away than risk being hurt one more time I always say. Thus I become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I expect to be friendless. I push friendship away. My expectation is met. Way to go Trueself!

Case in Point
Since moving to LNJ I thought I was developing a real close friendship with C, even named her my bestest best friend over there in the cast of characters on this blog. It seemed like that was where we were heading for a while. We did things together. We chatted occasionally. We had some good talks together. Then it started to close in on me, and I pushed away.

Now because she was my hairdresser we should have continued to see each other at least every 6 weeks or so for routine color and haircuts. However, due to my financial situation I gave up my salon appointments. I’ve let my hair go back to its natural color and let it grow out long and scraggly as I just can’t see spending money that I don’t have on vanity. Even though I explained to C my reason for not coming to the salon I suspect that she doesn’t believe me even though if she were to see my hair she would have ample evidence. So the combination of me pushing away plus being embarrassed at being able to no longer afford going to the salon means that I have lost a friendship that very much meant something to me, but I’m afraid to do anything about it for fear I can’t resurrect the friendship anyway.

Getting back to the point, and I might just have one in here somewhere if I look hard enough, I need to work on me to make things better. I need to work on me because I am the only one I can change. I can’t change anyone else (much as I would like to sometimes, particularly those of you who disagree with me) nor can I change anything that is in the past. All I can do is change me in the present. I can change my attitude. I can change how I react to people. I can change my self-talk (I loathe the psychobabble, I really do, so forgive my use of it here). I can change the things I think and say and do.

The fact of the matter remains however that I’d much rather change you than me. After all, if I could just change you and get you to see that I’m always right and know better than you and that things would be a lot better if you just did things my way then life would be grand. If I could just make you treat me the way I want to be treated, and never upset me, and never disappoint me, and never be mean to me, then we’d have no problem.

Yeah, well that ain’t happening . . . nor should it. My head is smart enough to know what a fallacy that kind of thinking is. My heart isn’t so sure it wants to give it up, but my head knows better. My heart tried to start an uprising against my head by instigating my other organs but they pretty much wanted to play Sweden and stay out of it. Actually my stomach was more interested in playing Mexico than Sweden, but I think that had more to do with guacamole, and perhaps margaritas, than anything else.

Have you noticed how I use humor to deflect things when I get too close to something uncomfortable for me? You have? Yeah, me too, and you’re right. The humor isn’t all that funny. Sorry.

Anyway, when it comes right down to it I fear that much of what I do to keep from having friendships is just due to downright appalling social skills. No, I don’t mean that I belch loudly and then laugh about it in public. I’m not quite that crude. I lack things that are more subtle than that. I lack an ability to read people, to know when they are approachable and when they aren’t. I lack the confidence to look people in the eye, or to say hello first, or to ask if I can sit at their table, or to invite them to join me. I have no idea how to introduce myself to strangers in such a way that will keep them from looking like they are annoyed at the intrusion. I have no idea how to join a conversation at a party. I have no clue how to behave in social situations other than to sit in the corner and try my best to disappear into the background. Now if someone is actually brave enough to try to penetrate the Trueself Force Field of Anti Social Behavior ™ they will likely find themselves chatting with the TS who will quite happily chat their ear off. TS will feel such relief at having someone to talk to that she will quite likely make quite the pest of herself to this kindhearted person until the person is aching to get away. Again with the appalling social skills! Now add to this my fear of actually letting people in if they can find a way to overlook all the lack of social skills and there’s just very little chance of me developing deep and meaningful friendships.

I think I should start with trying to hone my social skills. Until I feel confident that I am not a bumbling idiot in social situations I don’t think I can progress much further. After that, I can work on not pushing people away when friendships start to form.

BTW, it’s incidents like the one after the basketball game a while back that just send me into a tailspin wondering if I lack all sense of propriety. I have such a perception of my own lack of social skills that I immediately put the blame on me when interactions go awry. Thank you to those who commented and let me know that I wasn’t the problem in that situation.
Also, my lack of comments lately to your comments is all about me withdrawing, being afraid to engage and converse. I’m just riding through a tough moment in time right now, trying to claw my way into seeing myself as being okay. I’m trying not to push all of my readers away, but that is my natural tendency (see above for how I push friendships away) after all. It’s scary that there are a few of you out there who would actually agree to be called my friend (tears well up just typing that sentence). It’s scary to let you in.

Ask me sometime to tell you about the three friends I had who died within a relatively short time frame several years ago. It’s another piece to the puzzle of why I push people away.

I’ll bet Drama just can’t wait for my visit this weekend after reading this post. Don’t worry girl, I think I’m beyond the pushing away part with you. I already tried that, and for some crazy reason you stuck with me in spite of me. You just might be the closest thing I have to a best friend right now. If that doesn’t push you away, nothing will!


selkie said...

You really are hard on yourself, hun! But I've been that way myself ... I hope you look inside and see what those of us who read your words already know.. you have LOTS to offer! anyone would be thrilled to be your friend!

And let me tell you - there isn't a one of us that doesn't feel awkward at times in social sitations. I know that I have felt exaclty LIKE you; I feel the sting as I come from a SUPER social, incredibly open family - except me that is (well me and my autistic sister!).

it sucks - but one thing I have found in life that helps was something my mum said when I left to go away to university; I was shy and withdrawn - she said put your head up, shove out your chest and PRETEND ... act like you haven't a care in the world and PRETEND ... and you know what? IT WORKED. People responded to the pretence which after a while, started to NOT be pretence as I got more comfortable.

Hang in there doll! We live too far apart to be real time friends but I'm proud to be your cyber friend!

Drama said...

Ahhh worries. You can't scare me away, reading your blog and talking to you is like looking in a mirror and talking to myself. BTDT...hell, I go back there on occasion when I simply can't help myself. I know how you feel and what you are dealing with. I do, or should I say, did the same exact thing my entire life. It was easier to push away from a friendship, walk away, as opposed to hanging in there, fighting or talking through it, and making it work. If I walked away maybe it wouldn't hurt so bad and shoot then *I* would be the one who rejected, not the other way around. Yeah, didn't work for me...

I still struggle with it but thankfully my circle of friends (albeit fairly small) is stronger and smarter than that. They don't LET me push away or walk away and they don't reject me. You'll get there...the first step is this coming weekend.

I simply cannot wait to hang out with you and I'm thrilled that you will be the first bloggie friend to meet The Man! Look out Chitown burbs, Drama and True are together!! Hehe

See you in a couple days.


Fusion said...

The fact you're talking about it here is a big step too, that you want to acknowledge this and work on it. It's a good start.
You have a great time with Drama and burn up the town, ay?
(And let me know what you think of her new guy, ok?)

Cheers True!

Desmond Jones said...

You know, the vast majority of the times I've gone back to 'reconnect' with old friends I've fallen out of touch with, it's gone really well. A few have been awkward, where we've just gone in too-different directions. But most of 'em, within a few minutes, it's like we never left. Go see your hairdresser; it's likely you'll be glad you did.

And say Hi to Drama for me. . .

Val said...

!!! No friends, you say??!!??
So whaddoes that make ME, chopped liver?!? Hmphf!
[Good luck pushing me away also; once I attach myself to someone it takes a LOT of punishment to get me to detach. Just ask my ex-husband ;-)]
My stomach also likes to play Mexico although I should know better...