I was out with some of my good friends the other night, all of whom have been very supportive of me these last few months. At some point I and my friend M got to talking about how we met and started hanging out, since I wasn’t entirely sure. It was during the first two to three years after my daughter was born, and it was common for me to have completely forgotten details from that period of my life. I’ve always wondered if it’s like that for all new mothers.
In any case, she said something that struck me as odd: that she felt like she practically had to browbeat me into being friends with her. I looked at her oddly and even stammered a slight apology, since I know it’s my tendency to be a little thick sometimes. Or a lot thick. In fact, I have a lifelong tendency to be absolutely clueless when it comes to people liking me. It just doesn’t sink in.
I’ve never understood quite why I’m this way. I wonder how many other people have actually liked me quite a bit but gave up waiting for me to clue in that they wanted to be friends with me, or worse, stopped caring because it seemed like I did not like them in return. It wasn’t that I didn’t like people, I probably just had zero clue that friendship (or more) was something they were interested in.
I suspect it’s a way that my psyche has protected me over the years. Friendship was so often a cover for sexual desire aimed towards me, which was mostly something I was not interested in, having had my fill as a smaller child and then a teenager. As such, I think I blocked out any knowledge of someone wanting friendship with me, because another part of me feared it would inevitably lead to something unpleasant. Later the fear of sexual contact morphed into a fear of general intrusion and violation of personal boundaries as some of my other so-called friends had done, and so again, it was something that went right over my head. If I found myself being in a friendly relationship with someone, I merely saw it as coincidence, not because they’d gone out of their way to make friends with me. I’ve always seen myself as being tolerated rather than desired. And I know that’s not true.
I also think it’s a manifestation of my horrible self-esteem. The notion that someone would make an effort to be friends with me just never occurred to me, and when it did I found myself asking why. After all, someone must be really damaged to want to be friends with a freak like me, y’know.
But I’m not a freak. I’m really smart, and I see the world in ways different from others, so that makes me kind of unique, I think. But I’m not a freak. I really need to keep telling myself that, because that low self-esteem and zero self-worth problem I have is going to do terrible things to me if I don’t kill them. I’m literally halfway through my life, unless I wind up being lucky and get to tack another decade or so onto the end. It’s really time to take my old ways of thinking to task and replace them with new ones. At least, if I want to have any hope of living any of the dreams that I’ve always had, buried beneath my fear.
pain lives on the riverside
and pain will never say goodbye
pain lives on the riverside
so put your feet in the water
put your head in the water now
come on, put your soul in the water
join me for a swim tonight
Pain Lives on the Riverside – Live
It’s time for a swim.