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A date with a coworker felt like a bright spot in 2020 (and maybe it was)?

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  • #375843
    Ry
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you yet again for your reply…

    Yes, I too fear the loneliness that comes from living in a large city. The isolation and compartmentalization that comes with a life there is scary. I lived near DC for a bit before taking a job in Appalachia, so at least I had the benefit of culture and whatnot there–even though I was a full-time grad student at the time. That was a part of the appeal of taking this job here; however, I believe the poor socioeconomics of this area and the pandemic meant that I never saw this as “home.” (Even though my counselor encouraged me to put down roots and perhaps make this my home.) I will locate a counselor when I get settled there and work to find activities that boost my social skills.

    And, no, I won’t stay here for her. The love interest, friendship, or whatever this was and is, it’s unattainable and unsustainable and detrimental in the long run. I did FaceTime her briefly this afternoon, and while she was excited for me, I could sense the friendship I desired had passed. While she knows that she can count on me, there is nothing there for anything more foundational. And that’s okay. The time we shared helped with the loneliness and isolation, and the relationship–whatever it was–provided me an outlet to be open and vulnerable–even if it was not reciprocated.

    Thank you for the two mindfulness points. Yes, I will work on holding onto them and practicing them. I did well with not overreacting to perceived rejection(s) with the coworker. Not so much in my own head and heart but I never verbalized them to her (other to say that I had hoped for more but understood why it could not be.) She mentioned a few times that she appreciated that I gave her space when many of her friends did not. However, I need to do better with accepting these perceived rejections and not hyper analyzing or fixating on them. The same with the inferiority/superiority mindset. As you said, these are likely due to my “very lonely childhood and life of social isolation at home.” I simply have to get a handle on this or at least learn to accept it and cope.

    I came across this quote by Jake Woodard on Instagram tonight: “Some of our deepest core beliefs were created because of the childhood trauma we experienced. The relationships that we manifest are often a reflection of our unresolved pain. By leaning into our wounds, with the other broken template that we carry.”

    Ryan

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by Ry.
    #375846
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ryan:

    When you move to a big city, try perhaps (?) a taproom for socialization in the afternoons, 1-3 times a week- not a bar, mind you, but an outdoor sitting taproom that serves three drinks only: ciders, beer and wine, one that is open at 2 pm, or 4 pm. In moderation, responsibly, alcohol does wonders when it comes to socializing.

    Regarding the quote about core beliefs- our basic, deep rooted core beliefs are all formed in childhood. Some call  our childhood our Formative Years: our brains are formed there, including core beliefs about who we are and who other people are.

    anita

     

    #375858
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ryan,

    although this relationship hasn’t worked out the way you hoped for, I think it’s actually not a bad thing that it happened, because as you say yourself, you could be open and vulnerable, without slipping into the old defense mechanisms. This shows you’ve grown and aren’t the same man who has 2 failed marriages behind him. I say this in response to these words of yours: “there remain the issues that have led me to be twice-divorced, where I have yet to have an intimate, long-term relationship, in my 45-years of life. I certainly have a lot of work to continue to do.”

    You don’t necessarily have so much work to do any more, neither you’re the same man you were before. Yes, there are still things to work on but you’re much more aware now and have the help needed. You’ll get there, for sure.

    “I also need to work on my self-worth after working much of the past 10-years on my self-esteem.”

    Actually, I think self-worth and self-esteem are one and the same, whereas self-confidence is a slightly more superficial thing, in that people may have self-confidence (due to their skills and accomplishments), but deep down, they may still feel unworthy. A typical example is an athlete who’s built his self-confidence around performance and winning. When they have an injury and cannot perform any more, they may become depressed because they based their worth on some outer thing – excellence in sports – and without it, they feel worthless.

    The sense of worth is at the core of our being, it’s something that should be there simply because we exist. In childhood, if the message we’ve received from our parents was that they don’t appreciate us that much, they’re not happy to have us, that we aren’t that important to them – that’s how our self-worth gets damaged.

    Based on my own experience, I believe that my mother criticizing me damaged my self-confidence, but her expressing that she didn’t want to have me (because she was afraid to have children, she felt incapable of being a mother) was what actually caused my lack of self-worth. When the child feels unwanted, this is how the wound happens. Interestingly, I wasn’t aware of my lack of self-worth until much later in life, I was only aware of my lack of self-confidence.

    Anyway, now that you know what to work on, it doesn’t necessarily need to take a long time to heal it. You may start valuing and appreciating yourself already now, not because your outer achievements, but just because you’re valuable and worthy. We all are. This is how the sense of inferiority/superiority gets resolved too. You lose the need to compare yourself with others, you focus on your own life and growth, without looking what others are doing.

    I wish you a happy new chapter in life, and keep us posted how you’re doing…

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by TeaK.
    #376976
    anita
    Participant

    How are you, Ryan?

    anita

    #378123
    Ry
    Participant

    Good evening Anita,

    Thank you for reaching out… My apologies for being away, as this month has been someone chaotic.

    This started my second week of work at my new job. I do not yet have a laptop, so I’m using my personal computer to read regulations and guidance. I’m trying to be excited, but I fear it may not be as wonderful of an opportunity as I think. This will be my third federal job in as many years, and I want it to be my last (for a while at least). I’m tired of moving and changing jobs and I do hope this is where I can plant my feet. Unfortunately, the job is 100% telework for now, so I do not have to move right away. This means I’ll be working a new job from my same home office here in Appalachia. Yet, I try to remain expectant that, once the dust settles, and I’m working in the big city down south, perhaps things won’t seem so dreadful. I’d like to be there by mid-summer—just awaiting what the pandemic does in this country and how the federal government moves to reopen its offices.

    I’ve been rather self-destructive (to an extent) these past few months. The previous job brought me no joy and I did not dedicate the time to it that I should have. I was always behind and playing catch up, and feared what would have happened had this lackadaisical mindset continued. I just was not able to will myself to focus on work. I’d spend hours every day doing anything but work. And I became that jerk who handed off unfinished work to a team of already overtaxed coworkers. I felt like a piece of crap (to be blunt), but there was just nothing left in me to focus on this job. However, after returning my laptop and hardware a week ago last Friday, I started this job with a mentally clean slate last Monday. It’s all I could do. Hopefully, my government-issued laptop arrives in the coming days!

    In the past four weeks, I’ve ceased asking my worker to hang out. I’ve expended too much energy into this one-sided relationship, and it was not worth it anymore. She has probably asked me to hang out with maybe four times this year—with decreasing frequency since the cabin trip in January. A switch flipped in her mind after that weekend and she did not seem to want to explore even a deeper friendship. She has often FaceTimed me from work in the mornings, but there is never really any talk of anything more. It feels as though I’ve become more of a sounding board than someone she’d like to spend time with socially. Strange as I have not really experienced this before.

    She continues to work her second job on the weekends and has begun a return to the gym. I think her time is limited and she is focused on herself and her friends. She is also dipping her toes into dating again, so I have been relegated to the back seat. We FaceTimed for a bit last week and she actually cried. Her therapist had had to cancel an appointment the day before, which just happened to coincide with her ex’s birthday. She still felt shame about not seeing the signs of his drug addiction and promiscuousness, but also felt anger because a year ago she was in love and spend time making him a birthday cake from scratch. However, he would not see it until late at night, which she later found out was because she was doing drugs with friends. To me, she strikes me as not yet willing to open her heart up to anyone, but misses companionship that comes from a coupling, so I think she’s dating to hope she’ll find that spark or connection again. She said in our FaceTime that she feels numb and empty and knows that isn’t fair to those she gets close with (to include me). As much as I wanted some sort of intimate relationship with her, my posts here and your counsel Anita made it clear that she isn’t the one for me, and that a relationship would have been unwise. Hopefully, I showed her a bit of goodness and respect, and she can meet someone who offers her the same.

    Finally, I allowed my loneliness and self-destructiveness to lead me astray. I tried Tinder off and on these past six months, but the dating pool here is quite shallow. I never really took it too seriously. I’ve chatted with a few women here and there via the app, but either they “ghosted” me, or I didn’t pursue things due to a lack of interest. However, I did finally relent two weekends before last and agree to grab dinner with someone. I kept pushing her off for months, but she was persistent, and so I agreed to dinner. (She does know that I am leaving, as I was upfront about that.) Regrettably, I felt even less of a connection when we met. Dinner was pleasant enough, but I really don’t have much in common with her, and I was not physically attracted to her. I tried to be charming and witty and enjoy the night, but there just wasn’t much there for me.

    After dinner and drinks, I stopped back at her place to drop her off and she invited me in. I said okay and went inside. She has four cats…and cat tsatskes everywhere. I did my best to ignore it as she poured some shots. I knew what she wanted as she led me to the bedroom, but I didn’t initiate anything. However, she did and we did the deed. I focused on her and she was quite happy—and told her friends about it the next day. I stayed around for a bit but ended up driving home much later than I had intended, which I know saddened her, but I knew that I wasn’t ready for that type of intimacy. (I also felt strangely guilty like somehow I was sneaking around on my former coworker, but I brushed that aside.)

    We texted a bit during the week, and she was very flirty and asked to see me again. I begrudgingly accepted and had a pleasant enough dinner. Again, she invited me to her home, and I did my best to relax and not initiate anything. However, she did and I did my best to “rise to the occasion;” however, it simply would not last. I simply could not maintain, so I rolled over and tried to blame the alcohol. She tried to “assist” but there was nothing there for me. I stayed for a few but I soon donned my clothes and drove home.

    I just feel so…I don’t know…off. Part of me regrets simply dropping her off after our first date and heading home. At the same time, I too am lonely, and she certainly made her intentions clear, and I was able to muster my prowess to be a great lover that first time. There should not have been a second time, but I was too concerning with hurting her feelings by being honest. I did explain that I’m dealing with depression and am on antidepressants, so that could certainly play a factor—though it never has before. Part of me is frustrated because I felt such an intense connection the first time I went out with my former coworker, and I wanted that feeling again with someone. It’s so rare and so fleeting. However, there just was nothing there for me. She’s asked to see me again, but I continue to push her off. She is understanding but I know she also wants sex, as she isn’t exactly shy about her intentions. And for many guys, perhaps finding a woman with a high libido is a dream, but I also need that connection, which does not exist.

    As much as it would be wonderful to have a companion, I know that I need to continue to work on myself. I continue to battle depression, but there is also the lack of a sense of purpose or a longing to explore more of myself. I continue to go to the gym three times a week, but I find it difficult to do anything more than watch tv. I have spent quite a bit of these past few months exploring the state on a Saturday, but I often find myself lonely on my travels—especially when returning to an empty home. I know that, if I were staying here, and with COVID likely subsiding, I could perhaps find a hiking or biking club to join. Yet, I’ll have to wait until I get where I’m going to hopefully find a group.

    My apologies for the long post, and I don’t truly expect a reply. I simply wanted to post an update and to vent via the board.

    Thank you.

    Ryan

    #378126
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ryan:

    I thought about you earlier today (!) , and you updated your thread a few hours later, glad that you did. I will read and I would like to reply later, in about 12 hours from now, if not earlier.

    anita

    #378153
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ryan:

    You are welcome, and welcome back to your thread a month and ten days since you last posted.

    Regarding your current, third federal telework job: “I’m trying to be excited, but I fear it may not be as wonderful of an opportunity”. You are hoping that moving to the big city, hopefully this mid-summer, “won’t seem so dreadful“.

    “The previous job brought me no joy“, you did that job with a “lackadaisical mindset” (lackadaisical, definitions: “lack of enthusiasm and determination, carelessly lazy”, “lacking life, spirit or zest”), handing off unfinished work to a team of already overtaxed coworkers because there was “nothing left” in you to focus on that job.

    You chatted with a few women on Tinder, “didn’t pursue things due to a lack of interest“. One woman pursued you and you agreed to a dinner date with her, but “felt even less of a connection” when you met her, and you were “not physically attracted to her”. After dinner and drinks, she invited you to her place, and you “did the deed.. focused on her and she was quite happy”. A few days later, she asked to see you again, and you “begrudgingly accepted”. Following a second dinner, she invited you to her place again, but this time you had trouble to rise to the occasion, as you put it, and you rolled over and tried to blame the alcohol. “there was nothing there” for you, “that connection.. does not exist”.

    You mentioned the “intense connection” you felt the first time you went out with your former coworker, the woman who dominated this thread, starting December 5. 2020.

    “I continue to battle depression, but there is also the lack of a sense of purpose or a longing to explore more of myself.. I find it difficult to do anything more than watch tv”.

    You shared in August 2, 2020 that you were diagnosed with “recurrent major depressive disorder (MDD).. It’s called ‘high-functioning depression'”, that you “largely feel mirthless… emotional withdrawal.. decreased sex drive, negative feelings about myself.. and others to an extent.. I really have little interest in any hobbies. I  just remain flat”-

    – still the same depressed experience, ever since you were a child, isn’t it, an experience born in social-emotional isolation as a child, and then,  extended into decades of adulthood, isn’t it (?)

    anita

    #378155
    Ry
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for your reply. Yes, the battle with my childhood and MDD continues. The “social-emotional isolation” wears on me, but quite inconsistently, as I move from emotional mountaintops to the abysses. My next counseling appt is not until late May, but I I know this will require work on my part (and a new counselor when I eventually relocate). I do find it cathartic to write here, however.

    Thank you again for checking on me and for your reply, Anita.

    Ryan

    #378159
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ryan:

    You are very welcome. “I move from emotional mountaintops to the abysses”- I wasn’t aware that you were experiencing emotional mountaintops.. the only mountaintops I remember you sharing about were the times you were together with your former work colleague: a few times having dinner and drinks with her, during that one night perhaps, of sleeping in her bed, and during that one weekend vacation.

    Were there/ are there other mountaintops I missed?

    anita

    #378167
    Ry
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Not so much “emotional mountaintops” in terms of social interaction, but more just in a general, emotional sense. It’s nothing new–dealt with these highs/lows most of my life. Some days, I feel quite good. I’ve slept well or feel a sense of excitement for the day ahead. Then, the next day I’ve done a 180 and I have little will to do much of anything and an inability to focus. I’ve been Rx’d 76 mg. of venlafaxine for a number of years, based on the GeneSight test, and while I feel it does help balance me, I feel that most of my depression/anxiety/etc. is situational based. This is one reason why my current counselor has encouraged me to cease living such a nomadic life and find a place to call home.

    And while, the possibility of a mutual connection and relationship with my former colleague did help to an extent; but, as you know, it also caused me to overthink and become anxious at exactly “what we were.” I knew that we were never going to have a romantic relationship early on, but her overall inability to let me get close (with the exception of a handful of times), pushed me to want to find a way to find a closeness.

    Ryan

    #378173
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ryan:

    If your “emotional mountaintops” occur outside of social interactions, then maybe it is the social interactions with women that constitute your situational-based depression, meaning the situations that cause you anxiety and major depression are your interactions with women.

    anita

    #378179
    Ry
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    No, I don’t think that is the case. I was alone for nearly all of 2020 and I had these highs and lows. I’ve dealt with these waves most of my life. This may take a longer post to properly explain, and that will have to wait. CBT has helped me as much as it can I think, and I’ve placed myself in a good position in life by serving in the military, getting a graduate-level education, and working for the US government. (Much of my stress in the past came from living essentially paycheck-to-paycheck, and I did not want to end up working so hard for so little as my parents did.)

    To offer a quick take: Much of my disillusionment stems from never feeling truly “at home” wherever I am in life. Rarely feeling connected with someone–which, again, therapy has helped immensely. And, generally, and existentialist-view of the world. Not a great combination.

    Ryan

    #378181
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ryan,

    I am sorry you haven’t been feeling great lately and have felt empty and as you say, self-destructive.

    You said you agreed to have sex with a woman you didn’t really like: when you met in person, you felt “even less of a connection” than online. You felt you didn’t have much in common with her, and you were not physically attracted to her either. There was just “nothing there for you”. And yet, she was persistent, so you just went along, went to her house, and did what she expected you to do – have sex with her. You met once again a few days later, after her insisting, and you tried to “rise to the occasion” again, but it didn’t work. You left home without meeting her expectations.

    It appears to me you can’t say no to a woman, and feel obliged to meet her expectations/needs, even if they go against what you really want and desire. Is this dynamic familiar to you, perhaps from your childhood, in the relationship with your mother?

    • This reply was modified 6 months ago by TeaK.
    #378209
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ryan,

    I’ve taken a look at your earlier threads. You had a great discussion with Anita there, who very astutely pointed at the dynamics you had with women and its possible causes. I now realize that you did say No to a woman before (to your ex with a small son), however it wasn’t a strong, resolute no, but rather an ambivalent no.

    You didn’t really want a relationship with her, you didn’t want to live with her and share life with her – so that was your No. But you did want her in your life from time to time, going to trips and spending time with her and her son. That was your Yes. You wanted her to be emotionally close to you, to confide in you, to talk about her problems. You were receptive to that and seeking it even after you broke up, which she told you she isn’t willing to do.

    What you weren’t receptive to was her anger towards her father. Her anger repelled you and you said it was one of the reasons you broke up with her. Anita noticed that you might be suppressing your own anger (towards your mother) and that’s why you cannot deal with hers. Your mother scolded you when during arguments you would use the word “freaking”. It seems to me that this is how she silenced you and deterred the attention from the actual problem to something inconsequential like proper speaking. You weren’t allowed to get angry with her, or to express that anger. Would you say that’s true?

    When we suppress our anger, we cannot set proper boundaries either, and we cannot say a definite and resolute No. We also don’t know what we want, or we don’t dare to go after what we want. So we cannot say a definite and resolute Yes either. This may even cause depression because we can’t selectively suppress just anger, but we need to suppress ALL emotions, including joy and happiness.

    Do you recognize yourself in any of this?

     

    #378230
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ryan:

    I am interested in reading more about your “highs and lows” in the context of relationships with women and outside that context, if and when you have the time and willingness to share. What I am particularly curious about, at this point, is your subjective emotional experience of life.

    Having read from you as much as I did, over time, I noticed some cautious, low-intensity optimism from time to time, and an ongoing, low-intensity distress, but I don’t remember ever noticing joy on one hand, or despair, on the other. I noticed that flat emotional experience (the word you used), an emotional monotone.

    I know that you were diagnosed with recurrent major depressive disorder (MDD), and so have I, in the past, but I remember while depressed, often feeling acute, high-intensity distress and despair, and rarely, joy. Do you experience from time to time any of the following: (1) Acute distress and despair, when you don’t know if you can survive for the next hour or so, being desperate to be helped and desperately reaching out to others for help? (2) Joy, when you feel like a bird flying in a clear sky, or feeling the freshness of the air as if for the first time…?

    anita

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