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Unable to make peace with the past

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  • #368182
    margotescargot
    Participant

    I had a friendship that lasted for seven years. We were inseparable and shared so many things with each other. I had always felt like she was the person I can truly be myself with. I have always been the kind of person who gravitates towards people who are also subdued or introverted like me, and because I had a friend like her, I didn’t bother too much in fostering new friendships because I always believed we would be friends for life.

    However, last year everything changed because the both of us found boyfriends. She told me she didn’t like my boyfriend for me because she thought he had the wrong intentions or there was something that unsettled her about him. I tried to be as respectful as I can and listened to her because I always valued what she thought. But along the way, I did make my own decision because my boyfriend has been nothing but patient and good to me even until now.

    My friend told me that if I ever did get together with him, she would slowly end our friendship, which broke my heart. She eventually did this. And this year, we have never been the same. We have only spoken twice since then and I would feel how disingenuous she treats me, unlike before when I feel so loved and supported. She found new friends quite easily and seems to be unaffected about our lost friendship as I see her pictures on social media. I on the other hand is the exact opposite. I now feel alone, more subdued and unable to make new friends because of the fear of being abandoned.

    It still breaks my heart until now because I know I’ve lost a good friendship. Her disappearance has left a hole in life that left me a mess, I became insecure, lonely and uncertain about myself. I lacked confidence and didn’t know how to interact with people. I have now become too wary of them, and I now find myself having a hard time connecting with people on a deeper level because I have the fear of feeling insignificant and unwanted once again.

    I know that I can do nothing more than to accept that the friendship is indeed over, but I am unable to make peace with it and I still dwell on the words she said to me. I want to connect with people again, I want to foster new friendships, I want to feel like I can be myself again with others but the fear is stopping me.

    #368195
    anita
    Participant

    Dear margotescargot:

    I hope you soon will be able to make peace with the past. In this post, I will focus on only part of what you shared, and ask you a follow-up question about it because I want to understand you and your situation better:

    You shared that you have been “subdued or introverted”, that you have a boyfriend since last year, who has been “nothing but patient and good to me even until now”. Currently, even though you have a boyfriend who is nothing but good to you, and patient- you “now feel alone, more subdued and unable to make friends of being abandoned.. a mess.. insecure, lonely and uncertain about myself.. having a hard time connecting with people on a deeper level.. I want to connect with people again.. I want to feel like I can be myself again with others”-

    My question is: if you are in a relationship with a man who is nothing but good to you and patient with you, how can it be that you feel so “alone.. a mess.. lonely.. having a hard time connecting with people on a deeper level.. want to feel like I can be myself again”- aren’t you with your boyfriend (not alone), aren’t you connecting with your boyfriend on a deeper level, and aren’t you yourself with your boyfriend?

    anita

    #368203
    margotescargot
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    Yes, my boyfriend and I are inseparable. With him, I don’t feel so alone because he understands me and listens to me when I am having a hard time. We connect on a deeper level and have also become good friends at the same time. You ask very hard questions because I am also having a hard time understanding why I feel more alone, subdued and introverted even when I have him as a support system.

    I think that because of the pandemic, this has forced my boyfriend and I apart (we live in different towns). We are unable to see each other face to face as much as we want. This made me realize that I depend on him too much emotionally, because now that I rarely see him, my feelings of hurt and sadness from my lost friendship start to resurface and I am forced to confront them.

    What you asked me really made me stop and think, I tried to rack my brain for a sensible answer because you are right. With my boyfriend, I should feel less alone and lonely, but I genuinely do not know why I feel like this. We do have the occasional fights. We have our misunderstandings, but we work on them. Him being the only person I can depend on has made me hold on to him tighter, and I am convinced that he might be the only one who can understand and tolerate me especially when I feel lonely.

    I have made attempts at becoming more friendly and open with the people I work with, hoping that I will form new friendships along the way, but I have a hard time especially because they are extroverted and quite loud, that I feel like in order for me to get closer to people, I have to become like that myself.

    #368214
    anita
    Participant

    Dear margotescargot:

    I will be back to your thread, read and reply in about 9 hours from now.

    anita

    #368227
    anita
    Participant

    Dear margotescargot:

    “With my boyfriend, I should feel less alone and lonely, but I genuinely do not know why I feel like this”- it is my guess, based on personal experience and on learning about many other people’s experiences, that you felt “alone and lonely” for years, as a child, a time that felt like eternity, and that as an adult you keep re-experiencing that same childhood emotional experience in different, adult circumstances (in your adult relationships with your former friend and with your current boyfriend).

    What do you think?

    anita

    #368255
    margotescargot
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    Maybe you are right. As a child, I often find myself clinging to people, always afraid of being left behind or abandoned. I was still in elementary when I first experienced friends leaving me behind for other cooler people. As a child, I’ve experienced being by myself, feeling alone and rejected.

    The fear of rejection and abandonment are almost always the reason why I cannot open up to new people. Having experienced my past, with my best friend leaving me behind because of a decision I’ve made for myself still hurts me until now. Why is it always so hard to let go of these traumas? How do I make myself understand that I must accept that it happened and just learn from them?

    #368266
    anita
    Participant

    Dear margotescargot:

    “As a child, I often find myself clinging to people, always afraid of being left behind or abandoned.. being by myself, feeling alone and rejected”.

    This emotional/ social experience stayed with you into adulthood.  It so happens to be that something very similar was my own childhood experience as well, and it stayed with me as an adult, for decades to come.

    With your seven-year friend, at times you felt that the two of you “were inseparable and shared so many things with each other.. like she was the person I can truly be myself with”- it reminds me when I had my first friend in school, I was so delighted, so excited, to finally have that feeling of togetherness, instead of the usual aloneness/ being left behind. Finally I was in the in-crowd: a crowd of two was good-enough for me!

    Back to you: you and her got your respective boyfriends in your lives, she didn’t like yours and she exited the friendship. You wrote that as a result, you “became insecure, lonely and uncertain”- you were back to being insecure, lonely and uncertain, just as you were as a child and onward, it’s just that at times, you felt together with her, and that was a wonderful feeling.

    I keep stating at times, because when you grow up alone and lonely, rejected and feeling abandoned, year after year, for what seems like an eternity, that experience sticks.

    Your  boyfriend, as attentive and patient and wonderful as he is, “nothing but patient and good”, he is not enough to void that childhood experience that sticks, and that is why, even though you have him in your life, you still feel, “now feel alone, more subdued and unable to make new friends because of the fear of being abandoned”- it is the same experience of your childhood, more acute now, because of the loss of your friend.

    “Why is it always so hard to let go of these traumas?”- being rejected, not being part of the in crowd, is very painful. We are social animals by nature. It is painful for every social animal to not be a valuable part of the social group/ herd. Every social animal suffers when being rejected from the social group. In nature, such rejection often equals death, as the individual, alone, cannot access food without the help of the group, and/or be protected by the group from the cold and from predators.

    Even though we are humans living in a complex human society, we are still subject to the same instincts and emotions of other social animals.

    “How do I make myself understand that I must accept that it happened and just learn from them?”-

    – for a social animal in nature, rejection often means death, like I just wrote. You know, logically, that you are not in danger of death because your friend rejected/ abandoned you, but it.. feels like it because of our animal instincts and emotions. Remind yourself that your life is not in danger because she is no longer your friend, it only feels like it, but it is no so.

    Also, remind yourself of the times, while being friends with her, that you didn’t feel great. You didn’t share about those times, but I am sure that there were many of those times, during the seven years, when you were not in her presence, and sometimes, even when you were in her present (am I correct?)

    Key is to heal, best you can, over time, from that powerful childhood experience of having been rejected, of having been left behind, abandoned- a powerful, devastating experience for a child.

    I hope that we continue to communicate and learn more from each other.

    anita

     

     

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