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I have been her kind.....(on disclosure and loneliness)

Posted Mar 28 2010 12:00am
Since I was seventeen and first read her work, every so often a line from Anne Sexton's writing comes into my head. Right now, as in many instances, it is
This loneliness is just an exile from God.


Mind you, I don't particularly believe in God, and the quote is rather melodramatic. But I like that quote. Something in those words captures the ache of too much solitude and disconnection from other people. I often wish I was a different type of person: a person who was still thin and attractive, a person without a bunch of health problems, a person without a psychiatric illness, a person who is more outgoing, a person who is more attractive in general to other people, because of whatever qualities there are that make some people so likeable.

It's not really that nobody likes me. I know people I like who also seem to like me. But I don't have a lot of close relationships. I don't have any kind of love life, and haven't for over two years. I don't even think about that much of the time, since with my fatness comes my belief that nobody-will-ever-be-attracted-to-me-because-I-am-obese low sense of self worth. In my twenties, to be honest, I was not bad looking at all. I had a lot of men who were interested in me, and sometimes I was interested in them, but sometimes I was too unstable to know what I was doing too, so it didn't work out for the best. But I had people who would want to date me, and I felt enough confidence, somehow, that I would do that. I wouldn't even try now. Not at all. And it doesn't really matter, because I feel quite sure at this age that I am now that romance is not all it is cut out to be, and that romantic love doesn't really last, most of the time. But sometimes....it would still be nice to not be alone. I suppose this is a normal way for a person to feel in our society which so perpetuates the myth that anybody in a couple is happy and anybody without a partner is not. Sometimes I fall for that myth myself, and I think if I wasn't alone, this wouldn't bother me so much or the burden would be easier or it would be more fun because I would have someone with me a lot more often to enjoy experiences that I enjoy right now by myself. But touche. My therapist said that having a relationship is the "icing on the cake", and you don't really need that icing, even though you would like to have it. I think this is true.

Speaking of my therapist, I really like her. I have trusted her and confided in her, and took copious advice from her (as she is very intelligent and knowledgeable) for the past three years. Some months back, Medicare decided they would no longer pay for her to do therapy because she is a licensed mental health counselor and they only want to pay for licensed social workers at the community mental health center I go to. My therapist fixed this problem for me by some sort of agreement with her boss that I could still come in for therapy ever week. She is that kind of woman, the kind who goes out of her way to help people when she can. I found out a few days ago that, since the community mental health center is hiring a licensed social worker to do therapy, they will no longer let me see my therapist. They would let me see the new one. I am not particularly interested in seeing a new therapist, at all. Somehow I had it in my mind that I would have this therapist I've had for three years for several more years. Somehow it didn't occur to me that things wouldn't work out that way.

It's hard when you lose people who matter to you. My case manager has to do these forms with me every few months, and one of the questions on one of the forms is "who are the important people in your life?", and among my people, honestly, are my therapist and my case manager. My case manager will have to close my case soon, because I have not been hospitalized in the past two years. So she will be gone too.
I don't really talk with her that often anyway, but it's nice to have someone to call when you need some back up in dealing with the doctor or the landlord or whatnot every once in a while. And it's nice to hear some encouraging words from a person who has watched you go from being a hospitalized psychotic person to a person with a reasonably normal life. She always tells me that I am doing remarkably well compared to back then.

A few years ago, I lost some good friends. They disappeared from my life, and in two cases, they did it by telling me point blank they wanted me out of their lives. This was because I was floridly psychotic, but since I did not know I was psychotic and I did know that my friends decided to evacuate my premesis, I was very hurt. They were my closest friends. The third one was really my best friend, and she disappeared without a word. I met all of them on the internet, but two of them were friends who I had met in person too. In one case, my friend helped me get a place to live when I was homeless and I will forever be grateful to her for that, but I will also forever be hurt that she dumped me on the side of the road so-to-speak because my problems with mental health were too difficult for her to understand. They were too difficult for me to understand too, but I didn't have much choice but to live with them since all my suicide attempts seem to have failed. Not to long ago, I came across her name on Facebook, and sent her a message. I told her that in the past few years I had been diagnosed and treated for Schizophrenia, and I am now doing much better and have a happy life. I told her how much I appreciated her friendship and assistance in the past, and I how I had really missed her and thought of her often during the last few years. She wrote back to say that she thought I had been diagnosed with Schizophrenia five years ago (to my recollection, I never was), and indicated that she didn't believe I had really changed at all. We never communicated again. I really have nothing to say to her anymore, and I know she couldn't care less about talking to me. So be it. People change. People move on. Life goes on.

Still, still, there is this loneliness. I can be in a room crowded full of people and be lonely because I don't know how to talk to them, I don't know how to make them like me, I don't know what it is, that magic quality some folks seem to have that makes them be able to socialize with ease. I've never had that quality. I try to be friends with people, but at some point I can't let them know any more about my life, because I know they would not understand, and I do not want to set myself up to be judged and hurt by anybdoy again. So I keep things to myself, or I write about them here on this blog, but I don't talk about them with many people. Except my therapist, and the woman who is in my therapy "group" (two of us have comprised the group for a couple years), who I won't be seeing anymore since I won't be seeing my therapist anymore after another month or so.

It's kind of hypocritical, I guess, that I believe people with psychiatric illnesses should be able to talk about those illnesses and disclose them to others in their lives, but I myself don't do that with a lot of people, except on the internet. I try, sometimes, but it's so risky. I had a lot of problems at my last job after being hospitalized and having information get out about that, so I never disclosed to anyone at my current job and probably never will. Even though I believe we should, in our society, accept mental illnesses as disabilities just like any other kind of disability, I am not so naive as to believe it is always possible for people to disclose those illnesses. And I guess that's what makes me lonely. Here I sit behind my wall of self-defense, with my secrets. On my side of this wall I hide my mental illness and all of the ways it has impacted my life. I hide my history of homelessness, and all the hospitalizations. I hide the tons of medications, the doctors, the group home, the Assisted Living Facility, the symptoms. I hide the voices and the doublespeak, the hallucinations, and the delusions. I hide my past. I hide my present. I hide a lot. Peek-a-boo. It would be nice to take this wall down once in a while. I need to learn how to do that in a way that is safe. I need to find that safety, with someone, at some point, where I can say, "Yes, you really are my friend", and let them know a lot of the things I usually hide. I have one friend in this area who I do that with, because she knows me from a mental health facility where we lived together years ago. But one person who really knows you in the town where you live is not really enough. I need to find some more people, and gain some more confidence.
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