There’s a ringing in my ears
I answer it
There’s someone there
I can’t hear what they’re saying
I was waiting for this call
Waiting for someone to reach out
I don’t know what you’re saying
Please answer me
Don’t leave me behind
Your call has been disconnected
I feel disconnected from my friends. I had a hard time articulating this a few weeks ago, and I was really upset about it. I had just gone to see a movie with several friends, and I felt like they all paired off and I wasn’t included. I couldn’t interrupt them, they didn’t invite me in, et cetera. I think this is a feeling a lot of people can relate to. We feel like we’re the odd one out, that everyone else has all this time, and that they’re together and have all these connections with each other. They bring up inside jokes, and mention things we weren’t there for. If we stopped to think about it, we’d know we do it too, but when you’re in the midst of feeling left out it’s hard to think logically. It feels like the Green Day lyric, “Nobody likes you, everyone left you, they’re all off without you, having fun.” I know I make bad decisions when I’m so lonely and depressed. I ended up sending a few friends a text the following Monday asking them if they were still my friends. That was not a good idea. They felt the text was emotionally manipulative, which I was not trying to be, I was just honestly concerned that they didn’t want to be my friends anymore.
Since then, I’ve had a talk with the ones I sent the text to. With them, I’ve been able to determine that what I was feeling was a lack of connection. It didn’t mean that they weren’t including me (which I felt like they weren’t) or that they didn’t want me around (which I felt like they didn’t) – it just meant that I had a hard time reconnecting with them on a personal level, particularly in groups. For the most part, I’m okay with most of my friends one-on-one, but when we get into groups, that’s when it feels like they don’t like me anymore. I was pushing them away, and they were giving me the space they thought I wanted, which made me feel like they didn’t want me, and it ended up being this sort of catch-22.
There are two main reasons for this feeling, from what I’ve determined. One is that my depression and anxiety tell me that I’m going to push away everyone I care about and then I’ll have no one, and so that’s sort of what ends up happening as a self-fulfilling prophecy. I have this sort of abandonment complex because of how my ex left me, I’m afraid everyone will leave me in the same way. The other is because my friends and I are all at such different points in our lives that it’s hard to get together. The problem I have is that almost all of them had two years where they were growing and working and settling themselves into life, whereas I had two years of being stuck, hospitalized, and just trying to survive the life I had, with no energy to spare to grow up. I just needed to focus on not dying. But now that I’m feeling better, and am beginning my own path to my future, I need my friends back.
Of course I needed my friends when I was in the midst of my crash and when I hit rock bottom. But in some ways, they played a different role. I needed them to support me, help pull me back up. But they knew at the time I was in no state to help them back. Now that I am, I need to reconnect with them in a way that allows them to know I am, for the most part, emotionally stable, I can support them, but I still need their support. I think they might be unsure of their role in my life right now – they don’t want to make me feel worse, but they also can’t be my entire support anymore. And that’s fair. I don’t want them to be, nor do I think it’s fair to expect them to fix my problems, or walk on eggshells around me, or whatever. But we are all sort of walking on eggshells around each other, trying to reestablish friendships and boundaries.
I now have words for what was causing me pain before, and that makes me feel better. I’m disconnected. My problem is, I’m still having trouble reconnecting. A number of us went to the beach this past weekend. This time, I didn’t feel like anybody was pushing me away (with one exception, who literally and figuratively pushed me away) – but I still felt disconnected. I tried to participate in conversations, but I was mostly silent. I felt as though I had nothing to contribute, or that when I did have something to contribute, the conversation fell silent soon after. I tried really hard to be an active listener, and not zone out, and actually communicate and participate, but I would say I was only successful 30% of the time. Now, that’s an improvement over when I would just disconnect and not be able to reengage at all, but it’s still not good enough.
I don’t know what to do exactly. I know I have to keep trying, but what if it doesn’t work? I can’t lose my friends; that would kill me. It’s hard and discouraging when it doesn’t seem to work. But I can’t expect my friends to do the work of connecting for me, though I don’t think it’s unfair of me to ask them to reach out every once in a while, or if they see me disconnecting try to bring me back. I’m not asking them to constantly do that, or implying that it’s their responsibility to bring me back when I disconnect, but it would be nice if they put some effort into the relationship fixing too. And for the most part, they are. I only have one friend who seems like she doesn’t want to put any effort into fixing our relationship – and she was the one I felt the most disconnected from in the first place. I might be losing that friendship, or it might work out. I don’t know. I know I’m not giving up on it, not yet, but it’s hard not to let that affect my other relationships. Especially since we’re all part of the same friend group and she is fully integrated, whereas I am on the sidelines right now.
The poem above is more negative than I feel about the situation, and also puts more responsibility on the other party. That is not how I feel right now, but it felt right when I was writing the poem. I know I can do this. I can reconnect with my friends – after all, they’re my friends. They care about me. They wouldn’t have stuck it out this long if they didn’t want to. Together, I think we can work it out.