This journal post is in response to Linsdaysmile’s question about making friends. My partner and I seem to have loads of friends…but I often feel like I’m riding on his coattails. Only a few I can call my own. There are a lot of factors, but I think my abuse is key source/cause of some of my difficulties with making friends over my life. And the past few years I’ve become more self-aware around them. - I’ve been too needy – who wants to hang out with an open wound? - I’m too caretakey (trained by my mom the perpetrator) – it wasn’t until recently how annoying that was for people. Heck, just recently I learned how to do playful ribbing and trashtalk. - I’m too self-absorbed – I’m not fully present, and not always paying attention to what others say, and with that… - I dissociate – and no one likes being around a mouth-breather. - People haven’t found me “fun” enough – same as number #1. - I’m generally depressed/low-energy, so I don’t have a lot of energy to socialize as it is. - I’ve got massive social anxiety too – and people smell that fear and don’t want to be around it. - Thusly…I’ve been desperate and try too hard. Same as above. - Therefore…I have all this going on inside of me, and I don’t want to share it, so I don’t know what to say and what not to say. - Hence…I’ve been isolated, and which didn’t give me exposure to simple social experience/skills/methods, particularly in grade school or early adulthood. - Ergo…my Shame Mechanism kicks in. After every less-than-positive interaction, I just figure I’m f*ed up and doomed to this isolation. And all of these things together exacerbate the situation. Add on top of it that, there are things outside my abuse: I’m an introvert per temperament, my parents didn’t have normal friendships so I didn’t have examples, I’m gay which makes for a weird dynamic with some, etc. See, don’t you want to “friend” me right now? J Of course, I’ve made this all sound worse than it is. I do have plenty of things going for me too. But it FEELS like a mess, and is definitely partially true. But the key for me was to challenge that last item with my Shame Mechanism – that all my challenges are because I am fundamentally f*ed up. When my therapist helped me start dispelling that belief, I then started to see all the other elements that my abuse caused. And they became things that I could start addressing. For example, learning how to freakin’ trash-talk! That seems so simple, but it also started challenging my belief that I have to be so “caretakey”. And as I have started to understand how inter-related all of these things are, and getting validation from my therapist, my social competency feels like it’s been sky-rocketing. And that’s a good thing, and it makes me very happy! BUT, at 42, it feels a little late, when most people have their friends locked in for life already. And I’m still not there – to much of the above is still happening (trying too hard, mouth-breathing). So simultaneously, I’m bitter about– which feels like the right feeling for right now. Plus I’m spending my Sunday afternoon writing this, instead of being out and about, making friends, and “having fun”! ;-) If anyone is reading this, I’d be interested in feedback, sharing, etc.