Sometimes, being an ACoN can seem intensely isolating. It's been touched on in many posts, across many blogs. The isolation, the loneliness, the feeling of being an out-cast, an outsider. An outsider most of all in our own families. Isolated, sometimes, in our own mind, as we struggle with reality and the reality that our narcs have created for us. Isolated, thinking we are the only soul in the world that feels like we do.
When I was little, I don't remember my mother encouraging me to have many friendships. Outside of my sister. She liked me and my sister to get along. I get that. I would like my kids to be friends. But that's up to them. They need to grow and develop their own relationship. Anyway, I don't remember my mother asking about my friends or expressing any real interest in my social life at all. She didn't discourage it, but she just never seemed to care. My sister and I spent a lot of time with her. Shopping, running errands. Doing the things she did. Where she went, we went. Because I had allergies, I often couldn't stay at friends' houses for sleepovers or go visit. So, by design, I was even more isolated. I remember a few birthday parties. When I did go, I remember feeling guilty. So, obligated, even at 8 or 9 or 10 to be with my family. Feeling like spending time with my family was the most important thing to do. It seems so weird to think back on. I mean, obviously, I was picking up on those messages from NM so early. But also, that even at 10, I did feel family was important. I somehow, never took them for granted. And it all seems so ironic now.
I had one or two close friends in my life. I always had a group of friends. I always did things. But I had only one or two "best friends". One moved away in sixth grade. The other stole money from me (a lot of money), helped my sister get abused and took advantage of my sister herself (had her steal a car at 14), and then never spoke to me again. I always seemed to be gathering the wrong kinds of friends. I always was the "odd-man out". On the fringe of the group, but never really fitting in. Never having true intimacy and friendship. I spent many days in the "friendship triangle". The third, odd-ball girl in relationship of friends. Think Phoebe, in friends. Except she was happy to be the individual. I was not the free-wheeling, independent, happy-my-self girl Phoebe was. I always just felt left out. Repeating, and repeating the relationship I had with my sister and mother. Sometimes being closer to one than the other. But never being in the "primary relationship" and always knowing they'd choose each other over me any day.
When I got to college, an acquaintance pushed me into a sorority. I actually found a lot of kinship at first in the house. These happened to be sweet, down to earth women. But I soon found myself repeating the same patterns. Feeling left out. Being cast as the "weirdo". Replaying same old dramas from my childhood. All the while, my family life at home was dissolving. Looking back, I know that some of the friendships I should have pursued, I pushed aside. There were friendships I might have had, but I wouldn't allow myself a good friend. There definitely were toxic women I knew, but a lot of the blame was my fucked up strategies to relationships. Things fell more and more apart, internally, in my family and in my life. So, feeling misunderstood and oh, so lonely in a home of 40 women, I moved out. And I swore off friendship.
Over the years, I've only lately begun to trust women. I don't have a lot of faith in them. And, I believe I tend to attract woman who just want me to be their rock, be their sounding board. I've attracted a lot of mean, spiteful women. I've never known the true feelings of those friendships I've seen others have or on TV. I don't have a close cousin or an aunt. I had hoped with my in-laws that I'd develop some sort of relationship. But, you all know how that has turned out.
So, here I sit. Feeling like a social misfit. It's hard to explain to people. Why you don't have a good girlfriend. Every woman has her friends. People always say they don't trust women who have no women friends. And here I sit. I'm always much more comfortable with men. I like that they (tend to be) more blunt, to the point, and honest. They don't generally play games. They don't get jealous and catty. They talk about more than who has the cutest clothes and who needs to loose weight. I know, I know, I'm stereotyping. I know lots and lots of women are not like this. But these are the women I've had in my life.
DH always says I need more women friends. I try to explain that I don't want any. I fear the neediness of a female relationship. The phone calls. The hour long emotional chats. They needing-to-talk several times a week. I'm so not that girl. I hate shopping with other women. I know, weird. (And ironically, the only person I do like shopping with is my sister.) I'd be OK to talk on the phone here and there. But my mom and sister trap me on the phone and now I feel I have a phobia. Like I'll be trapped. Hours later, I'm stuck in a repetitive conversation about the troubles they've gone through and them not wanting a solution. I've never learned (or been able to) end a conversation without feeling guilty. I don't trust a lot of women. I don't believe they will be there when I need them. I don't believe they won't sell me out.
And on top of it, I just don't feel like a lot of people can relate to me. I see Facebook posts saying "I am so at home when my mom visits." or "Everything is better when my mom is here." You know, people who's mom makes life easier. Better. Less stressful. I have no idea what that feels like. And I struggle to explain me. My life, my reality. I've had more than one friend accuse me of being unfair to my NM or NMIL. I've had friends, unable to see my fear of leaving my boys with the narcs, get angry for me not being able to go out. And I have so many friends that I feel take advantage of me, use me and DH, or just disregard us when we are not useful. The worst part is, I don't know when someone is really treating me badly and when I'm just sensitive to being walked on (because although I hate being called "oversensitive" the reality is, sometimes I am, well, let's say "ultra sensitive". Somethings hurt more because I've been so badly burned already.) I have one, or two, girlfriends that I really talk to. But even they don't understand what it's like to process all of this shit (in fact, no one knows I'm even doing all of this processing.)
I recently revealed to a friend I was feeling closer too about my NM and NMIL. She, too, has a NM. We were friends before, but when I found that out, I suddenly felt...I don't know, not like an outsider? Anyway, I told her about my NM over email (we usually communicate by email when not in person. Although impersonal, we both feel it works for us.) I didn't get a response. I don't know if she just is waiting to talk in person. But it worries me. Makes me anxious.
So, I'm lonely. I feel like an outcast. I have an active social life. I know many people would say I'm their friend. I know a lot of people would say they like me. But even in a room filled with these people, I know now one of them truly knows me. No one understands me. So, although I'm surrounded by people, I'm lonely.