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.