Confused priorities!

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  anita 3 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    I recently turned 30, and am having a ‘crisis’ of sorts, I suppose.    I feel very much like my life is in a transition with many many areas and some ugly feelings are surfacing.  My social phobia (I am a victim of bullying by several close female friends since I was 7 – 14).    I thought that I had dealt with these feelings, but I recently have found myself on a roundabout of emotions, terrified to engage in any friendships and feeling very alone (in the last year or so, and since I have become secure in my relationship of two years).

    I had a close knit circle of (mostly male) friends since I was 15.  My best male friend is now in a relationship with an ex housemate of mine, whom I thought was a close friend, but it has transpired through my want of a friendship to continue that we are not at all and probably never were.   I dont like that she is around him, I am annoyed with myself for introducing them and I am totally jealous.  Mainly because I had these great visions of her and I and my boyfriend and friend going out on some jolly jaunts together and being “best best couple friends forever”, or something like that.   I realise that this is probably an unrealistic expectation of anyone, and I am sure not to force this.    I have extended many olive branches, but every time it is pushed back and it is agonising for me when this happens.  So I just sit here, souring and bitter over this lost love for my friend and the lost ‘what if’ fantasy of us all being best mates, when actually I dont really feel like my ex housemate and I have much in the way of a friendship at all.

    I feel like I have been ostracised by women in the circle ( mainly the girfriends of male friends) because somehow I tend to get into some form of tension with them. I dont know why and I know some people really do care for me.  But I have been getting regular panic attacks and cancel every thing I do because I am so phobic of rejection that I have completely closed myself off.  Becoming more and more convinced that I am defective in the same way I was when I was a little girl.   History is repeating.

    I have difficulty with another friend of a friend who accuses me of being a ‘bad’ friend essentially.  The friend of friend is very sensitive and believes that my inability to hang out is a reflection on her.  I have told her that I find it hard, I also have a medical condition which means I can have debilitating migraines and cannot move.  I have been accused of lying.  It hurts because I so want to have this friendship, because I feel like anyone who wants to be friends with me I should be grateful for.

    The point I guess being, every fibre of me wants to retreat at the moment.  My job is changing, I am also having a lot of difficulty with being in a long term relationship with someone who is consistently loving to me.   I want to reject it and I want to push it away.   Even as I am typing this I am thinking I should stop, because I am taking up too much of the space on the page and worried that I will receive harsh criticism for it.   I want to push my boyfriend away as well because I dont feel like I love him or am a good girlfriend to him.  Not in this place anyway.  My feelings are so strong they are like tidal waves, and often with those I am closer to (my mum and boyfriend), my full force obliterates what was underneath, with the people I love found hanging on to a metaphorical steel pole, battered and bruised from my words and just hoping the next storm wont be so strong.    This is to the point I worry if I have some form of undiagnosed PTSD or personality disorder, but thats something different.

    I dont know what advice I am looking for, only that I know I am grieving for a lot and want to be alone with it, but at the same time so desperately want connection and solid friendships.  I am worrying some of this is even my relationship – I persecute my boyfriend because I feel like he doesnt have many friends here that we could hang out with, despite the fact he didnt grow up in the UK.




    Dear Puce:

    You were “a victim of bullying.. since I was 7-14”, that naturally brings about fear and anger, two very strong emotions. Five years of fear and anger is a long, long time.

    Here are some of the indications of your fear: “terrified to engage in any friendships… I have been getting regular panic attacks… I am so phobic of rejection… worried that I will receive harsh criticism… I want to push my boyfriend away…

    Here are indications of your anger: “I don’t like that she is around him… I am totally jealous… I just sit there, souring and bitter… I tend to get into some form of tension with them… I want to push my boyfriend away…I persecute my boyfriend”

    – notice I wrote “I want to push my boyfriend away” in both categories, because fear and anger, both motivate pushing him away, fear of him rejecting you and anger for perceiving that he will do that, just like the bullies did, is my understanding.

    “My feelings are so strong they are like tidal waves… just hoping the next storm won’t be so strong”- it is the fear, the anger, and the less powerful sadness, and all along, still as before, that desire to connect with others, safely, “I had these great visions of her and I and my boyfriend and friend going out on some jolly jaunts together and being ‘best best couple friends forever'”- that is the desire all along, a desire we humans share, being the social animals that we are, to be a part of a social group, accepted and wanted and treated well.

    I wouldn’t look for the PTSD or Personality Disorder label/ diagnosis.. unless it really is necessary. Think of it as strong fear and strong anger in a mix. No reasonable person can underestimate these powerful emotions. I think we are more aware of how fear influences our behavior, less aware of how our anger does that.

    If you let me know what you think about what I wrote so far, I will be glad to read more from you and communicate further.




    Dear Puce,

    You don’t trust that you, as a person, is enough for anyone in your relationships, which lead you to not trusting others.

    You’ve been hurt by people before so it’s understandable that you are leery of forming deep bonds with any females. And the bullying had damaged your self-esteem during your formative years so that’s something to look at too. That’s why it was safer for you to befriend male friends while fantasizing intensely about your casual female friendships. It’s not that you didn’t want female friendships, it was that you didn’t want to relived your childhood nightmares. But right now you’ve cocooned yourself in fear and shame, with your thoughts and imagination fueling it.

    Your apprehension of all the tensions with many of the females you are acquainted with speak of your fear that they might not like you, hence rejecting you. BUT that fear is your personal interpretation of the situation. You don’t know what the person before you is feeling or thinking until you’ve asked them point blank their thoughts. Yet your assumptions on the silence seems to lean toward the negative.

    Though you might be correct in that they actually might not like you, that’s simply how the world works. People will have lukewarm feelings for you at the best of time, no matter how much you wished to cultivate a deeper relationship. And there will also be those who won’t like you for whatever reasons. You can extend many olive branches, but it is still their decision to commit to a deep friendship with you. And if they don’t wish for it, the best thing for you to do is to mourn that potential deep friendship then move on.

    It’s just, your fear of rejection makes you want to control the impression that other people have of you. Your fear makes you out to be a defective person therefore you fear that people will also see it. You fear that other people will see the defect in you and scorn you for that reason. After all, you were rejected by your peers in your childhood, whose to say that it won’t happen again? Therefore, in your need for control, you rejected your mother and your boyfriend and possibly keep a certain distance from your female friends. If you reject them first, then they can’t reject you.

    Right now, you know that you are looking at your world through the lens of ‘what if’, invoked by your desire for a relationship similar to the ones in your fantasies because you fear your reality. You have casual friendships as you imagine what could happen if it was a deep friendship instead. You offer olive branches to those who you don’t like that much while silently thinking that some people don’t like you. You try to appear likable even when you avoid people. You wish for friendship because you don’t want to be rejected because rejection is a reflection of your own flaws.

    So if you ask the people around you to show up, would they? If you tell the people around you that you think you are defective in some way, would they be able to accept you irregardless? But it doesn’t seem that you’ve asked anything of them while also not letting them ask anything of you. You’ve been making assumptions while avoiding speaking of anything less than harmless to these people you call ‘friends’. After all, you don’t say “I’m scare, worried, anxious”, you only say “I have migraines” as if they would understand the underlying message that you’re struggling with being a friend and asking them for friendship. You don’t say much.

    Your fear keeps you from speaking, it provoke you into making assumptions about others, it makes you keep people at arms’ length. Then there is your shame of being defective. Your reaction to your shame is observing people’s reaction to you and using those reaction as building blocks to support the basis of your shame. And you’ve trapped yourself in that spiral of shame.

    Now, is the UK a country that stigmatize mental health? Because your sense of shame of yourself is definitely not new so the best course of action would be to seek professional help in untangling it. Be warn, changing the perspective of your view on yourself and your world is difficult because you are essentially challenging your personal truth of your shame, but if you wish to be able to form relationships without pushing people away, then it’s one of the challenges you’ll need to face.

    Each person carries their shame with them in some way, yours simply show up as the fear of rejection and being ‘defective’. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s simply your form of shame. But it is something you’ll have to work with for the duration of your life because life has an ironic sense of humor in that you’ll always have to face your fear in different forms in the various stages of your life.

    You’re scare, that’s okay, but you have the choice in what to do about that.



    Thanks Anita for your very wise words, they have been so valuable and give me comfort when I look at them in a way.  You are completely correct and I think that anger is a massive driving force for me.  Lots of internal rage and anxiety together.  Wanting to reject and I think my anger seeps out in many ways.    I have had more of a tough time with my boyfriend lately.  Getting such strong emotions of not wanting him anywhere near me.  This was to the point that I was considering leaving the life that we have together, and seach for the ‘one’.  However that has dissipated and actually underneath it all i feel is love.  What I find so hard is to not act on the strong intense emotions which seemingly come out of nowhere.

    It does hurt so much to feel like i am excluded from a group, and I think that there is one group of people specifically that I have known from school that just make me feel inferior and stupid.  Every time i talk I feel stupid, I feel like they want me to leave, that they wish I wasnt there.   To be honest I tend to avoid most other situations where I could make new friends, or at least have a ‘get out time’ so I have made an excuse to leave before I have even started.  I just feel like theres such a block in the way of me and them.  I dont really know what to do about it.  I used to drink but I dont like that anymore and I dont react well to alcohol.



    Dear Puce:

    You are welcome and welcome back to your thread. I will quote from your original post and the recent one:

    “I am a victim of bullying by several close female friends since I was 7-14”- what happens in a child’s brain when that happens, being bullied for seven long years?

    Hurt and anger build up, hurt and rage. I know because it happened to me. I can still feel the rage as I type these very words. At times when I talked about it, my voice got low, thick, monster-like, threatening.

    “Becoming more and more convinced that I am defective in the same way I was when I was a little girl”- but you were not defective when you were a little girl, just as  I was not defective. This is why it hurt so much, this is the reason for the rage: the injustice of it, there I was not defective and yet treated as if I was defective!

    The Rage is exhausting.. I feel the exhaustion right now as I am typing these words. It is hard to contain the rage, that emotion wants an out and yet I sit with it and it rushes through me and I am exhausted sitting with it.

    I wonder if your “debilitating migraines” are about this rage.

    “Even as I am typing this I am thinking I should stop, because I am taking up too  much of the space”- it is, again, enraging to feel less-than, less deserving of the page or a person’s attention and appreciation, to  see it given to others but not you… Why not me???

    “anger is a massive driving force for me. Lots of internal rage and anxiety together… my anger seeps out in many ways… underneath it all I feel is love.. What I find so hard is to  not act on the strong intense emotions which seemingly come out of nowhere. It does hurt so much to feel like I am excluded from a group… Every time I talk I feel stupid, I feel like they want me to leave, that they wish I wasn’t there”-

    What is happening with you is what happened with me for so many years and still happens (but way less intensely, and I notice it and then talk sense to myself):

    A child feels things intensely, in a raw way, before protecting herself, as we do later in life. Unprotected, unprepared for rejection, the child experiences hurt and anger and fear.. intensely.

    These emotions don’t go away, they are well recorded in the brain and get activated any time a thought appears or a bodily discomfort, or when a person says or does something that reminds us of that emotional experience of childhood.

    – What to do?

    That emotional experience of childhood needs to be acknowledged and processed. You have felt these emotions ever since, throughout your ten years or so  of adulthood, but they need to be connected to the childhood events themselves. You mentioned CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and indeed like any PTSD, the stress, or  distress of the past event keeps getting activated in the present. Healing is about bringing the distress back to the events of the past and figuring that we are now safe.

    Effective psychotherapy is the way to go about doing this. It takes time and a hard working, capable therapist. Within the context of effective psychotherapy or counseling, you will feel safe. You will  feel that the therapist wants to  help you, believes you are worth it, worth his or her time and effort and hard work.

    I am willing to share with you much more about this healing process I am referring to, from my own experience. And so, if you want that, post to me again and I will reply every time  that you do. After all, you are worth the space on your thread, any space you take- please take all the space here that you want to take.




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