I have long been perplexed by the reactions others have to me. I try to be a good person. I try to please. I live by the Golden Rule. I treat people well, even behind their back. I take the high road. I’m not bubbly and I’m not an extrovert. I’m a bit intense and somewhat shy. But I’m not so weird that I can’t at least navigate most situations with a fair amount of dignity. I respond correctly and appropriately. I put others before myself. But people don’t especially like me. And I honestly can’t quite figure out why they have such a negative reaction to me.It has hurt me in my career and it hinders my personal relationships. I don’t know how to connect. I’m not quite…I don’t know what…but it’s something that everyone else is that I just can’t seem to attain. “Visiting” or “socializing” are chores for me. Again, not that I don’t care, but I lack the ability to adequately and genuinely express myself in a way that others will know I care. I struggle to overcome this massive barrier daily. Because, realistically, the isolation in which I exist is not healthy. Why is connecting so easy for others? Why is it such an impossible endeavor for me? I feel extremely damaged. Weird. As if I have a neon sign above my head with an arrow pointing downward: “Freak below!” I’m slowly beginning to understand my brokenness is a direct result of the sexual abuse. Such a lovely gift from my father. One that evidently will last a lifetime. Who would I have been if he hadn’t sexually and physically abused me? What would I have been like if my parents had nurtured, rather than manipulated, used, neglected, hit, rejected, ridiculed and abused me in so many ways? I feel as if something very precious has been stolen from me…the person I was supposed to be. I’ve lost the ability to exist in the universe without having to struggle every moment of every day for a little scrap of earth on which to stand, live and be. I’ve lost the ability to live on solid, secure, friendly ground. The ability to simply be without having to prove my worth. To feel as if I belong. To trust and feel safe. To hope. To dream. To believe. To breath air without worrying about whether I’ve adequately done enough to earn this basic requirement. I am a ghost. People don’t like ghosts. I am an oddity. People stare at oddities, but they do not cuddle up to them. I am wounded, hurt, broken, alone. Trying to pick up the pieces of my shattered being, pieces that were scattered in the winds of destruction that ravaged my childhood. Different. Doomed. Destroyed. Watching people like my coworker in their warm and life-affirming universe, wishing I could live where they live and be like them. Wanting to be normal. But I’m not normal. And so I watch. And wonder. And wish. Never able to find my way to that distant planet where others actually enjoy life and laughter comes from a wellspring in their heart. Reaching out, but never able to break through the many colossal barriers. Doomed to sorting through the dust of my soul in a desolate world, trying to find something that can be salvaged somewhere in the debris and ruin.
I work with a woman who is, frankly, incredible. She is warm. Seriously. You only have to be around her for 3 seconds, at which point you find yourself sucked in to this lovely, happy place where all is well with the world. She makes you feel good. She hugs you without even touching you (although sometimes she gives you a big hug too). Everyone loves her and respects her and wants to be around her. She’s completely wonderful and I’m so thankful she is my assistant. This delightful woman makes me look better. I need her. Because I’m probably her exact opposite. I don’t know why I’m so “not” what she is, but my personality is kind of cold, I think. I’m more guarded. More careful. More watchful. Less open. It’s not that I don’t care or have deep feelings in my heart, but my emotions are kept hidden, under wrap, protected, unexpressed. People are not drawn to me the way they are to my coworker. In fact, my life experiences have led me to believe that a lot of people are kind of repelled by me, finding me to be standoffish and lacking in warmth. Even if I say the same things my coworker says, smile as warmly as I can possibly smile and moderate my tone so as to express as much welcoming as I can possibly convey, I’m still nothing like my coworker. I am still not liked, accepted, or enjoyed. I don’t make people happy. I don’t make them feel good inside. I don’t draw them in. There is a certain amount of awkwardness about me. And I have a deep distrust of others, more than likely due to the abusive childhood I endured. I fear people. What they can do to me. So I approach them warily and it evidently shows, even though I consciously try to compensate for my lack of trust and disbelief in the overall goodness of people. I don’t assume anyone cares about me. In fact, I assume they don’t. I feel they are generally out to hurt me…not just for the sake of hurting me, but that they will use me to get what they want and this is going to cause me harm. It’s all about them and not at all about me. So I have walls that are long and high and deep and thick. I can go through the motions, say the right words, act welcoming, but it never quite works. Because behind the wall, I’m a terrified, broken, guarded individual who unconsciously pushes people away out of fear instead of drawing them in.