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Author Topic: Not quite as emotional as others; is that an issue?
LizC
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Recently, my best friend and her boyfriend broke up, for a variety of reasons. It was rough for both of them for a while(I'm friends with both), but it seems like they've moved on. Another friend of ours also recently split with his girlfriend, and he's expressed interest in dating my best friend.
Now comes the complicated part. This other friend (I'll call him Todd) has been our friend for years. When we first started hanging out, the four of us (my best friend(call her Amanda), her boyfriend(call him Sam), Todd, and me) were kind of a fun quadruple. Todd and I flirted on and off the entire time, and I was interested in him romantically. He asked me to homecoming once(with pressing from Amanda, who knew I was interested in him), but I had to decline because my parents weren't willing to let me date until I was 18. Fast forward to now; Todd and I still flirt, but I consider him a friend before a potential romantic partner. I would enjoy dating him, but I think he'd still be my friend with boyfriend perks. But now that he and Amanda are single, he's said he's interested in her. She came to me and said she'd turn him down unless I was completely okay with it because she knew how long we'd been complicated. I said, without hesitation, that I was fine with the situation. If it made them happy, then it made me happy. And that was the truth.

So my question is this; is my reaction normal? I'm typically very detached and not very emotional. In fact, Amanda jokes that the most romantic bone in my body is my pinky. I'm interested in dating purely for the experiences(sexual and social) and the benefits of having someone to do things with. At this point, I'm not looking to fall in love and get married and live happily-ever-after. It's unrealistic for me at this time. I guess you could call me pragmatic. I care for my friends, and I get crushes, but the last major one was three or four years ago, and since then it's mostly been small blips on the radar. I consider myself bisexual, and I've had crushes on guys and girls, but it's mostly based on the fact that hypothetically, since I've never been in a relationship of any kind, I would be as willing to be in a relationship with a girl as I would with a guy, and I find men and women both attractive, physically, sexually, etc. so I know it's not a sexuality issue; I've already spent time examining myself in that regard.

Everyone else around me is getting attached and detached, falling in love and falling out, being passionate and crazy, and I don't feel any of it. I'm interested in it, but not to the degree that everyone else is. I'm exceptionally self-aware, and I know I have psychological issues and I could probably write a fifteen-page paper on why I'm so different, but a big part of why I am the way I am is because I have difficulty determining "normal" or "average". So. Basically, is feeling this way relatively normal? Should I try to talk to a counselor or therapist? Would it offer me any insight I haven't already been able to achieve?

I'll add that one reason it feels like such a big deal is because I'm sixteen, and my friends are all about my age. I'm attending college classes, too, so I experience a lot of the college culture. Society and media places a lot of value on teens and young adults being romantic, falling in and out of love, living life, and trying things out. I have interest, but I haven't had the opportunity, I suppose, to really do these things, so they hold very little appeal.

I'm not super confused, but I'd like your opinion on the matter. Thanks! [Smile]

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Sans
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Hey, LizC. Welcome to the boards! [Smile]

First of all, let me say that I don't think that you are "weird" or "abnormal" at all. After all, what is normal? If one defines it as the state of being similiar to someone else, then none of us is normal, because each of us are unique whether it concerns our love lives, our sexualities, gender identities, etc. So, from this basis, I would say that trying to label yourself as being normal or the opposite is not sound.

Everyone is interested in dating for a variety of reasons. As long as your reasons do not involve hurting yourself, hurting someone else, or breaking the law, they are totally valid. Just because they differ from those that you might percieve as being socially accepted for those of your age group doesn't mean that they are not valid.

I think that, indeed, you have given the matter a lot of thought and have articulated your thoughts wonderfully clearly.

Just let me add: marriage is not for everybody. Some people choose to marry, some people choose not to marry. If you don't want to marry, you don't have to marry. My opinion would be to look for the relationship structure, when and if you want one, that works for you and your potential partner(s).

Not everyone is getting attached and detached. Maybe it seems like it or maybe it is the case within your group of friends, but there are plenty of people who, for example, place more value on something else in their lives at the moment, such as postsecondary education.

Your stated lack of abundant interest in love and such does not constitute psychological issues. I'm not sure if you're referring to that when you mention said issues, but I just wanted to put this out there in case you were referring to your personal interest in love.

So, to conclude: I find you to be a intelligent, extremely articulate person who knows what you want for yourself. To me, at least, you are not weird at all.

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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WesLuck
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If we lost the use of the word "normal" for describing people's lives, it would be hardly noticeable and actually a great deal better for everyone. [Smile]
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Redskies
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Hi, LizC. In addition to Sans above, I think it's pretty likely that your reaction is indeed "normal".

Everyone feels different things at different times about relationships. Sometimes it can seem like there's such a hullabaloo in the world in general over romantic relationships, but honestly it isn't like that for all people all of the time. Sometimes we have other priorities in life, or sometimes we need our emotional energy and time for other things. Sometimes we can feel that we're just not that interested in a romantic relationship, for no apparent reason. People feel things differently, too: some people may commonly have strong feelings for a person, and then a couple of weeks later for someone else, and then someone else again; other people might only have strong feelings quite rarely but which last a long time. A small number of people don't experience romantic feelings at all, or only super-rarely. So long as the person having - or not having - the feelings feels generally happy in themself, feels comfortable and fulfilled by other kinds of relationships they have (like friendships, perhaps), all of these ways of feeling and being are absolutely ok.

Off the top of my head, the only instances that might indicate it'd be a good idea to look more into what was going on would be if a person felt that they were missing out on something that they themself really wanted (and not just something that it seemed like it was "normal" for everyone else to have), or if they felt that they cared for someone but were unable to connect with those feelings, or were unable to connect with their own feelings generally.

Sometimes, it can seem like there's so much talk about relationships and feelings and like there's so much going on, but really, it's not unusual for someone at 16, and a good few years older than that, too, to not have experienced really strong feelings around that yet. As well as the "different people, different situations, different times, different feelings" stuff, I think that it's really likely that at least some of us just haven't yet met someone that suits us for us to feel that strongly about at that point in our life.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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LizC
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quote:
Just let me add: marriage is not for everybody. Some people choose to marry, some people choose not to marry. If you don't want to marry, you don't have to marry. My opinion would be to look for the relationship structure, when and if you want one, that works for you and your potential partner(s).
Yeah, and I've realized that. For me, there's a high possibility that marriage won't be in the cards for a long time, if ever, for me, because of my career plans. But I kinda did mean the whole concept society seems to perpetuate about how once you find the perfect person and get married and settle down, all your problems are solved. [Smile]

quote:
Your stated lack of abundant interest in love and such does not constitute psychological issues. I'm not sure if you're referring to that when you mention said issues, but I just wanted to put this out there in case you were referring to your personal interest in love.
Yeah, kinda? Just my general sense of apathy when it comes down to emotions, I guess. But I feel like there's nothing that someone else could tell me that I don't already know for myself. I've never interacted with someone for the purpose of counseling/therapy, so I don't know. But, then again, I do have difficulty judging if what I'm doing is what I should be doing, if what I'm feeling is actually what I'm feeling or just an illusion created as a way to protect myself. Because I know I DO do that, and I have a long history of building up shells to protect parts of myself.

Also; thank you for the compliments. [Smile]

quote:
Off the top of my head, the only instances that might indicate it'd be a good idea to look more into what was going on would be if a person felt that they were missing out on something that they themself really wanted (and not just something that it seemed like it was "normal" for everyone else to have), or if they felt that they cared for someone but were unable to connect with those feelings, or were unable to connect with their own feelings generally.
Sometimes I wonder if I really do or don't want it, or if it's just a self-defense mechanism kicking in, because for as long as I can remember, so many things have been off-limits that it seems to not be worth my while to want it. I know I tend to shut down emotions if I can't express them, to cut off feelings that I can't speak, and I often just suppress and ignore my desires because I'm not allowed. In this case, I don't know if not wanting to date and having a marginal interest in these things is because I honestly don't want to date, or if it's because I know I'm *technically* not allowed to and therefore I just shut down all feelings related to it to avoid getting hurt.

Sometimes I get so strikingly lonely that I could cry, if I hadn't already cried myself out years ago. And I know that there's not much that can change feeling lonely at this point, but I also know that because I've never experienced a relationship I'd never know if that could help. I'd never know if it's possible to feel any other way because...I haven't. If that makes sense.

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Redskies
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I understand something about shutting down feelings and wants that we're not supposed to have or that we know just won't be met, and then not being able to know what it is that we do actually genuinely feel.

Are there things (other than not being allowed to date) that you would identify in your life at the moment as being reasons for why you shut down your feelings and wants? If there are, I know that sometimes these things aren't things that we can easily change immediately; but if there are, is there anything you can think of that you could do or change to give you a little of those things, any spaces in which you would feel safe and appropriate expressing yourself at least a little? Those things can be a bit creative - it can also include expressing yourself in artsy ways, or physical ways, or practical creative ways...

I think that romantic relationships can be a source of great strength and good things, but I also think that to have a healthy relationship, we need to be able to take in a lot of strength too. I think that a relationship Can help with loneliness, but I think that if it's genuinely helping in a healthy way, then it's part of a bigger picture of us branching out and having more and different relationships(in the broad sense, including friendships) with other people too, and feeling more of our worth and value. I think that one romantic relationship can't fix loneliness, and just by itself won't help us to break down the rest of the loneliness, and that to be able to really let in and open up to a healthy romantic relationship, we probably need to address some of the core things going on with our loneliness first.

Would you like to say anything about why you think you feel lonely, and why you think not much can change that at this point?

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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LizC
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Yeah, it's a coping mechanism, and I'm glad I have it, but it sure can make things hard sometimes.

Honestly, none are really coming to mind. There's the fact that I will probably not be coming out to my family any time soon, so I don't even consider that or their reactions. I do try to be proactive and change the things that I can change so that I'll feel better. I do have some good friends of mine who are mature adults and they're very accepting to talk with and open up to, which is an incredible help. Interestingly enough, I'm an artist, and I've been really trying to get back to painting, because I miss it. I'm hoping to do some stuff next week after my final.

Yeah, exactly. I really just don't know what I'm doing, honestly. On one hand, I feel lonely and would love someone to talk to, someone to just be with and do things with and someone who shows affection for me...but on the other, I know that relationships are work and I know that it's a give/take and it would take work, and I don't know if I'm in a good place right now to where I could HAVE a good relationship. And I really do wish I could branch out and build friendships, but I'm typically isolated and a loner. I don't really know how to start off and build up relationships. I'm trying to create some currently, but it's slow going and I still have trouble expressing myself and letting it be known when I need to talk or when I need help.

The loneliness comes from when I was a preteen, I think. I matured very early and very quickly(or so it seemed to me); I was experiencing deep depression at ~8/9 and by 11 I was actually nearing suicidal. The summer before I started high school(I was 13), I had started cutting. But when I started high school, I developed some of the first friendships I'd ever really had, and that kinda drug me out of my depression, in addition to the fact that my mom was diagnosed with cancer, so I kinda had to be strong for everyone else.

But the loneliness and the depression all stemmed from, I think, just isolation. I was starting to develop feelings and questions and thoughts and I had nowhere to take them and no way to puzzle things out. My father was distant and cool(not uncaring, just incapable of showing affection in a way pre-teen/teen children could understand), and my mother took a hands-off approach, I guess, because she never asked me how I was doing and she never offered help. She loved me, but she didn't know what to do, because she'd never really experienced a caring influence in her life either. And I, assuming that was normal, never asked for help. I just never really connected with my parents, I guess. I was desperate to earn my father's approval, probably to gain some kind of meaningful connection, but by the time I hit my teens, I realized that wanting to be like him wasn't really admirable. At the time, I had no real relationships with anyone outside my family. I was homeschooled and raised in the country, in a very isolated manner, so I had nobody to reach out to, and even if I DID, I don't know if I would have known what to do.

So for the first time in my life I'm just now reaching out and trying to build relationships, but it's hard because I have trust issues(probably stemming from my own struggles with...well, not compulsive lying, but certainly very close), abandonment issues(I guess, stemming from the lack of meaningful attachments), and just all-around ineptitude. And I still have to deal with repression and an inability to give myself a voice when I need to. I'm 100% more likely to push it all down and ignore my feelings until they overwhelm me and I cry myself to sleep rather than talking them out with someone and learning to deal. Again, that's a coping method.

I'm actually to terms with my relationships with my family these days; I love my parents, and they love me, and we've all learned how to show affection for each other, but it's too late to change the fact that I didn't have what I needed when I needed it, if that makes sense. I recognize that I'm different and I have issues, but I'm trying to find ways to work around them...it's just hard. And it's paradoxical; I have no experience and I don't know what I should be doing, and because I have no experience, I don't know what I should be doing, so I just get more confused and lost.

Hence my post here. As you can see, it's way more than just dating...that's just kinda the latest manifestation of stuff. I keep thinking that I can pull myself out of it like I did with the depression, but I just keep yo-yoing around, and it sucks.

Apologies for the essay; I'm a literature geek(as you may have guessed from the polysyllabic words, lol), and I'm great with explaining myself with words on the internet.

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Redskies
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Hey, Liz. I really, really hear you on a lot of the stuff you say here. There's some significant stuff in your background that clearly plays into the feeling of loneliness.

I absolutely think that there are helpful things that a person could say to you on here, but I have to say, I'm really sorry, right now I'm not that person. That's nothing to do with you, and absolutely does Not mean that your situation is extra-difficult or anything, it's simply that it strikes a few similarities to my own situation that I'm still dealing with now, and I feel that I wouldn't serve you well. I wrote you half a reply, and it just seemed waffly and not really good service to you.

So, I'll leave it to someone who Is in a better position to be the main person/people who are serving you here, though I can always drop in a few words of support or a thought here and there. Sometimes the boards are a bit busy, so if someone else hasn't got back to you soon, do feel very free to bump this so you don't get overlooked.

Again, to be super-clear, absolutely Nothing to do with you or your situation, just making sure that you get the best service possible and making sure my own situation doesn't interfere with that.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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LizC
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Okay, good, I'm not just a typical teen whining on the internet. I always worry about sounding like that when I try to talk myself out. Every time I explain myself I feel like I'm just whining about things that everyone has to deal with and I'm not really in need of help. I know it's not true, but as you might have guessed, there's also serious self-worth issues at play here.

No, I totally understand you. I know I often get approached for counseling(no idea why; they don't know my background, but they assume that I'm a emotionally mature and responsible teen...soo...) and sometimes I just can't do it because it's too close to the stuff I listed(and more). So don't worry, I don't blame you(or myself). It's just the way things are. That's life. And I try not to let things outside of anyone's control get to me.

I hope you can get the chance to work through the things that are still with you.

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Sans
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I just wanted to drop by and say that you don't sound like a typical teen whining on the Internet at all. By the way, what does a typical teen whining on the Internet sound like? (Lol, I'm kidding). In my opinion, the questions that you bring up are legitimate, they are articulated well, and I enjoy thinking about and addressing them as a fellow teen on the Internet. [Smile]

And keep in mind, even if you were presumably asking questions about issues that everyone has to deal with, we would not think any less of you for it and would be more than happy to do our best replying to you. So don't worry. That's what we are here for. [Smile]

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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WesLuck
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Yes, what exactly is a typical teen whining on the Internet? I think it is a stereotype which doesn't exist in the real world. Whining is something that is done far more when other people talk about a particular person's behaviour and possible motivations when the person themselves is not there, than in the person's actual behaviour.

Let's ditch the whining teen stereotype, and get real. [Wink] [Smile] Like on Scarleteen!

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Jill2000Plus
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There is no such thing as a typical teen, teenagers are hugely diverse just like any other age group. For once I wish people would complain about typical adult whining "waahh, infants/children/teenagers have sexualities and opinions and I can't deal with it so tell me it's ok for me to bully and shame them out of expressing themselves, tell me that as long as I don't do anything that would be considered Abuse with a capital A and a torch and pitchfork wielding crowd outside my door, that I can make my child as miserable as I like because I know best and it's not like I should ever have to put up with going outside my comfort zone so my child doesn't need a decade of therapy or anything, down with change, I don't have to grow as a person EVARRR!!11" "young people swear so much these days, my generation was so much better (from someone who grew up when it was legal for a man to rape his wife in his and my country and disabled people were much more likely to be placed in institutions and you hardly ever saw them on the street*)"... can't count how many times I've heard those ones.

*of course, the current conservative government is trying to undo said social progress by dismantling the welfare state.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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LizC
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Woah, guys. Three replies to an offhand remark. O.O

I was just saying that there's pressure to NOT be that stereotype, the teen girl posting on facebook about what may or may not be an issue for the purpose of getting attention focused on her. I'm not like that, and I don't want to come across like that, which is usually one reason why I never say anything.

I don't know exactly how to put this without sounding really mean, but here goes. I'm trying out the whole expressing myself better thing, and since scarleteen is supposed to be a safe space, this is as good a time as any to start.

Jill, I totally understand what you're saying, but it makes me a little uncomfortable to have to read the way you attack parents like mine. I do love them, regardless of their faults, and I can recognize that they ARE faults. I'd prefer it if it wasn't rubbed in my face like that. I understand that you don't like it, but it really makes me feel bad, the way you put it, and the extraneous information just makes me feel worse, since you used it for shock value and not as directly relevant supporting information. :/

[ 06-27-2012, 01:32 PM: Message edited by: LizC ]

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Sans
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quote:
Originally posted by LizC:
Woah, guys. Three replies to an offhand remark. O.O

I was just saying that there's pressure to NOT be that stereotype, the teen girl posting on facebook about what may or may not be an issue for the purpose of getting attention focused on her. I'm not like that, and I don't want to come across like that, which is usually one reason why I never say anything.

:/

I understand, more clearly now, what you were trying to say. And I say, again, that you are not coming off to me as being attention seeking at all. [Smile]

I was just a little worried about the phrase, "serious self-worth issues", mentioned in your initial statement regarding teenage whining, and thought that a really serious, earnest reply would be most helpful. [Smile]

That's what made me pay especial attention to the statement that which you intended to be an offhand remark. [Smile]

[ 06-28-2012, 11:05 PM: Message edited by: Sans ]

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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LizC
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Ah, okay, yeah, I see what you mean, how you took it. I meant the two statements to be separate but connected by my explanation that I don't like to like I'm needlessly seeking attention(I don't like seeking attention at all, because then people notice how weird I am, and then I start to crack because I don't deserve to be notice[which is what my brain usually spits out]). But I didn't quite articulate it how I meant it.
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Sans
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Oh, I get it. Alright. Well, I know what you meant by your earlier statement now that you have explained it. [Smile]

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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Saffron Raymie
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Okay, this thread's got a little out of hand. In order to keep this a safe space for everyone:

1) Please don't gang up on one user. It only takes one person to challenge an idea or concept others might find problematic, and that's best done in a gentle and respectful way - so no telling people to 'get real' please, or repeating a gentle challenge made by another user, as it's already been said.

2) Most of us worry about being judged. Whether that's being judged as a 'heartless man' or an 'overemotional woman', or a 'nerdy boy' or a 'whining teenager'. We don't have to believe in these things to worry that we'll be seen that way by others (as LizC explained) because sometimes others do judge us when they think we're being whatever stereotype they think up at the time. Scarleteen is indeed a safe space, where judging isn't okay; but that also includes judging others for being afraid of being judged. Does that make sense?

If I may speak for you here, Jill (and please correct me if I'm wrong about this); Jill is great at standing up for young peoples' rights in general, and I think ze was attacking the adults who do oppress young people in general - rather than your parents, LizC. Parents who love their child very much, but have great difficulty showing affection, and then do something very strong and overcome that great difficulty, are nothing short of awesome. Your parents are very different from the adults Jill was taking about. Instead, ze was trying to dismantle the 'whining teen' stereotype - which is a big thing in our culture, so no wonder it crossed your mind that you didn't want to be seen that way. Jill's point was that the 'whining teen' stereotype is something adults in general (not your parents) use to oppress teens (and then also talked about the other ways some adults in the world (often politicians) oppress young people, too).

I hate to see these kinds of misunderstandings here; you're all such valuable people we have on board. So, can we all agree not to gang up or judge? Thanks! [Smile]

[ 06-29-2012, 12:23 PM: Message edited by: Rei ]

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~ Saffy
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To my Abuser: I'm seeing stars. I bet you can't do that.

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Sans
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I just wanted to apologize if I had offended, judged, or participated in ganging up on anyone. I had no intention to offend or judge anyone. However, misunderstandings happen, so please speak up if you feel that you were offended or judged by me.

Ray, I do not know if you were specifically addressing me in any of the points you made on your post, so please tell me directly if I had said anything inconsiderate or inappropriate.

LizC, I had thought that you were slightly annoyed by the fact that I had replied specifically to your remark that you were coming off as attention seeking, etc., due to the fact that you had intended it to be an offhand remark. I'm sorry if I had been wrong about that. I also apologize if I had come across as ganging up on you. I had intended to reassure you that you aren't coming across as attention seeking at all but I suppose it could've been interpreted in other ways.

So, please, would you lovely folks help me to clear up my confusion a bit?

[ 06-29-2012, 01:36 PM: Message edited by: Sans ]

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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Saffron Raymie
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(Sans, you're a great Peer Ambassador; it's all okay [Smile] ).

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~ Saffy
Scarleteen Volunteer

To my Abuser: I'm seeing stars. I bet you can't do that.

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Sans
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(Thanks, Ray, just wanted to make sure [Smile] )

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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WesLuck
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quote:
Originally posted by Rei:
Okay, this thread's got a little out of hand. In order to keep this a safe space for everyone:

1) Please don't gang up on one user. It only takes one person to challenge an idea or concept others might find problematic, and that's best done in a gentle and respectful way - so no telling people to 'get real' please, or repeating a gentle challenge made by another user, as it's already been said.

Sorry for repeating a gentle challenge made by another user. I wasn't aware at the time that it was a bad thing, but the thread certainly did get out of control for a bit. I will endeavour to avoid repeating gentle challenges.

[ 06-30-2012, 02:34 AM: Message edited by: WesLuck ]

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Redskies
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Is anyone able to help LizC with what she was asking about, upthread? It seems important to me. (I know what I'd want to say, but I can't separate out my thoughts, and I'd make a poor job of it.)

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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WesLuck
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quote:
Originally posted by LizC:
Yeah, it's a coping mechanism, and I'm glad I have it, but it sure can make things hard sometimes.

Honestly, none are really coming to mind. There's the fact that I will probably not be coming out to my family any time soon, so I don't even consider that or their reactions. I do try to be proactive and change the things that I can change so that I'll feel better. I do have some good friends of mine who are mature adults and they're very accepting to talk with and open up to, which is an incredible help. Interestingly enough, I'm an artist, and I've been really trying to get back to painting, because I miss it. I'm hoping to do some stuff next week after my final.

Yeah, exactly. I really just don't know what I'm doing, honestly. On one hand, I feel lonely and would love someone to talk to, someone to just be with and do things with and someone who shows affection for me...but on the other, I know that relationships are work and I know that it's a give/take and it would take work, and I don't know if I'm in a good place right now to where I could HAVE a good relationship. And I really do wish I could branch out and build friendships, but I'm typically isolated and a loner. I don't really know how to start off and build up relationships. I'm trying to create some currently, but it's slow going and I still have trouble expressing myself and letting it be known when I need to talk or when I need help.

The loneliness comes from when I was a preteen, I think. I matured very early and very quickly(or so it seemed to me); I was experiencing deep depression at ~8/9 and by 11 I was actually nearing suicidal. The summer before I started high school(I was 13), I had started cutting. But when I started high school, I developed some of the first friendships I'd ever really had, and that kinda drug me out of my depression, in addition to the fact that my mom was diagnosed with cancer, so I kinda had to be strong for everyone else.

But the loneliness and the depression all stemmed from, I think, just isolation. I was starting to develop feelings and questions and thoughts and I had nowhere to take them and no way to puzzle things out. My father was distant and cool(not uncaring, just incapable of showing affection in a way pre-teen/teen children could understand), and my mother took a hands-off approach, I guess, because she never asked me how I was doing and she never offered help. She loved me, but she didn't know what to do, because she'd never really experienced a caring influence in her life either. And I, assuming that was normal, never asked for help. I just never really connected with my parents, I guess. I was desperate to earn my father's approval, probably to gain some kind of meaningful connection, but by the time I hit my teens, I realized that wanting to be like him wasn't really admirable. At the time, I had no real relationships with anyone outside my family. I was homeschooled and raised in the country, in a very isolated manner, so I had nobody to reach out to, and even if I DID, I don't know if I would have known what to do.

So for the first time in my life I'm just now reaching out and trying to build relationships, but it's hard because I have trust issues(probably stemming from my own struggles with...well, not compulsive lying, but certainly very close), abandonment issues(I guess, stemming from the lack of meaningful attachments), and just all-around ineptitude. And I still have to deal with repression and an inability to give myself a voice when I need to. I'm 100% more likely to push it all down and ignore my feelings until they overwhelm me and I cry myself to sleep rather than talking them out with someone and learning to deal. Again, that's a coping method.

I'm actually to terms with my relationships with my family these days; I love my parents, and they love me, and we've all learned how to show affection for each other, but it's too late to change the fact that I didn't have what I needed when I needed it, if that makes sense. I recognize that I'm different and I have issues, but I'm trying to find ways to work around them...it's just hard. And it's paradoxical; I have no experience and I don't know what I should be doing, and because I have no experience, I don't know what I should be doing, so I just get more confused and lost.

Hence my post here. As you can see, it's way more than just dating...that's just kinda the latest manifestation of stuff. I keep thinking that I can pull myself out of it like I did with the depression, but I just keep yo-yoing around, and it sucks.

Apologies for the essay; I'm a literature geek(as you may have guessed from the polysyllabic words, lol), and I'm great with explaining myself with words on the internet.

Since it's been quite a while since we had a totally on topic reply. [Smile]
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Jill2000Plus
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quote:
Originally posted by LizC:
Jill, I totally understand what you're saying, but it makes me a little uncomfortable to have to read the way you attack parents like mine. I do love them, regardless of their faults, and I can recognize that they ARE faults. I'd prefer it if it wasn't rubbed in my face like that. I understand that you don't like it, but it really makes me feel bad, the way you put it, and the extraneous information just makes me feel worse, since you used it for shock value and not as directly relevant supporting information. :/

quote:
Originally posted by Rei:
If I may speak for you here, Jill (and please correct me if I'm wrong about this); Jill is great at standing up for young peoples' rights in general, and I think ze was attacking the adults who do oppress young people in general - rather than your parents, LizC. Parents who love their child very much, but have great difficulty showing affection, and then do something very strong and overcome that great difficulty, are nothing short of awesome. Your parents are very different from the adults Jill was taking about. Instead, ze was trying to dismantle the 'whining teen' stereotype - which is a big thing in our culture, so no wonder it crossed your mind that you didn't want to be seen that way. Jill's point was that the 'whining teen' stereotype is something adults in general (not your parents) use to oppress teens (and then also talked about the other ways some adults in the world (often politicians) oppress young people, too).

Rei's explanation correctly represents my intentions. I'm sorry if I made you feel like I was jumping down your throat, LizC, and expecially since I don't want to be all "you have internalised prejudice against yourself? HOW DARE YOU!", cause I really ought to save my ire for the adults in charge [Wink] And of course it's easy for something to not quite come out the way you meant it and then people think you meant something you didn't and then they all respond with keyboards aflame and you feel ganged up on [Frown]

I really wasn't using any of it for shock value, though, I was saying these things because they portray the actual reality of adult discourse about teenagers being AN AWFUL MENACE (registered trademark) and how we're supposedly much worse than the older generations, the idea that we couldn't possibly be really suffering and are just "whining".

[ 07-03-2012, 02:07 PM: Message edited by: Jill2000Plus ]

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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LizC
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Woah, I must have forgotten to track this thread, because it totally blew up without me realizing. Sorry for not replying to anyone! My life got pretty insane for a week, and I really didn't think to check since I didn't get any emails.

Anyways. Sorry for the huge mess, everyone. I honestly never dreamed stuff would go crazy like this. I just had some stuff to discuss. I didn't mean for it to get outta hand. I didn't really feel like I was ganged up on; people just wanted to be sure there was no misunderstanding there.

Jill, I understand what you're saying, and what else was said upthread. I just don't appreciate how...aggressive it(your original comment) sounded. I was a little(and still am) unstable, and it felt very aggressive and directed at me(regardless of what it was actually directed at). It almost felt like I was being mocked with hyperbole(which I KNOW is NOT how you meant it, but it explains my visceral reaction). I've never really encountered that kind of adult reaction in my life, probably due to my limited interactions and the perception that I'm not an average teen and tend to get treated as more of an adult, and most adults I know actually over-cater to their children, so to me, it seemed excessive and hyperbolic and just gave me an icky feeling that I can't shake. And when I said extraneous information for shock value, I was referencing the bit in parenthesis about politics and past non-youth-specific issues. I realize you can't change that or anything, and it's a part of who you are, but I just wanted to try to be clearer as to why it triggered that response in me.

All that being said, I'd really like to move on, if that's okay? We've all apologized and explained ourselves...I was really hoping I could maybe get some help with my original issue, maybe, if it's not too annoying for me to keep bringing it up?

[ 07-04-2012, 11:45 PM: Message edited by: LizC ]

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Redskies
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I'm going to be a royal pest and ask again if anyone feels able to address Liz's original questions here, as I started with this conversation but am unable to serve it well in the direction it's gone, and it's now been sitting here a while.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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Liz: perhaps you could check back in when you're around and do a little reprise with what you're still looking for here and what you'd like to have addressed?

And by all means, let's all please move forward past the side conversation that happened, and close that door for Liz' sake and everyone else's. Thanks. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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LizC
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Hi, Heather. I'm not sure exactly what I need. That's kinda why I'm here. The primary thing I'm trying to figure out is whether or not I actually want or don't want something, or if I've just conditioned myself to not want things.
I have so many thoughts and feelings but I have no idea how to express them and how to expand myself in my personal life. My post was kinda trying to expand my history and put down what I think causes some of my troubles.

I'm just stuck in not knowing what to do, which makes me confused and unsure...which just keeps me not knowing what to do. I'm trying to reach out to some people I trust for their help expanding my horizons, but I still feel hopelessly lost sometimes, and there are some things I can't talk to them about yet, some of the things I mentioned that are just a little too private for me to talk to others about right now. I'm more comfortable talking to them about my history with theft(small things to get attention) and insecurity than some of the more loneliness and depression issues, because it feels like admitting weakness, and I have trouble doing that, too.

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LizC
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I was thinking the other day, and I realized this might be helpful to add, if anyone's even still aware of this thread. I was talking with someone else about mental health struggles, and I discovered that their experience and feelings in regards to depression and self-harm were similar to my own, which was an amazing breakthrough for me, as I mention below the stigma I felt, so I figured I could maybe add it on to throw a little more light on myself and just talk it out, even if I'm screaming into the void; I've found it can be helpful.

I've obviously struggled with a lot of stuff, depression and (for me) the natural extension of it, in suicidal thoughts and self-harm in the form of cutting. As I've mentioned, I've always felt very distant, for as long as I can remember, I only assume as a coping mechanism. Lately I've started to come out of that shell, but I spent most of my formative years behind fifty-foot-high walls as protection. The summer before my freshman year(I was 13), I went on a youth trip where I was bullied, hazed, and ostracized, and that just shoved me further into my dungeon. It got boring and numbing and just all-around miserable, so I started to experiment with self-harm as a way to force feeling, even if it was more physical than emotional. I saw it as better than nothing. I was terrified of razors, so I used scissors, which, in hindsight, was incredibly stupid because I had no idea what those scissors had touched. Because they were duller than razors, I had to work harder to get a cut, and there was more pain involved than the one time I tried to cut with razors. For me, it was all a way to see if I could generate an emotional response through physical trauma. I hated to feel pain, emotional or physical, but I was convinced that something was better than nothing, and if I didn't do something, I'd start to lose myself and I just might follow through with some of the suicidal stuff. Lovely, right?

I think there was also an element of begging for help, though I lied(this was on the tail-end of my intensive lying stage, so it was second-nature to pass cuts off as something else). I purposefully cut myself in places different from the "normal" places; I cut on the outsides of my forearms, for two contradicting reasons; so people would notice and ask what happened, and so I could pass them off as bramble scratches. I actually still have the scars for some of the deeper cuts. Most people I've talked to self-harmed for a physical manifestation of their emotional turmoil, and they didn't want people to see it. I thought everyone was like that, so I felt like a faker and incredibly shameful about why, where, and how I engaged in my own self-harm. It's still a touchy subject for me talk about, because I'm not fully adjusted to it and I'm still repressing and dealing with the things that led to me taking up cutting in the first place. I'm learning to be more honest and not go with my gut-instinct to lie, but I have only two people to reach out to, and they can't be there for me all the time, or even half the time. I cut because I needed proof I was still alive, but I also desperately needed attention and wanted someone to care about me enough to see beyond my lies and realize I needed help. I never got that, but I learned to suck it up, as it were, and internalize more, which isn't healthy, but it was all I had.

The reason it came up is because as I'm trying to open myself up and deal with all this stuff, it's coming to the surface and I'm having to deal with it, and unfortunately, I'm still in a very similar place when it comes to where I stand with my issues, except now I have to feel all the attached emotions and repressed feelings. I related depression and self-harm to an addiction; you may "get over it", but you never lose the urge to slip back into it, and every time something triggers a thought related to it, every time you look at a scar, you think about it all over again, and you remember what it felt like and you wonder if would feel different if you tried it again and wow that pair of scissors looks really inviting, nobody would have to know...and it just goes downhill from there. I was struggling through a rough patch when I posted the original question, and as things have gone up and down, it's ballooned into more, and I feel like I may be about to fall into another hole soon. This year, so far, while fantastic on every level but a personal one, has been a terrible roller-coaster ride for my own internal feelings and emotions. I wish there was some way to end it and close Pandora's box on all these feelings again, but, of course, once you let them out to play, you have to deal with it or spend years stuffing everything back into boxes, which I did, and it led to my miserable preteen years.

I feel like I need help, but I have no idea where to start or what to do. I know I'm far, far outside of the scope of a sex-ed site, but I feel like there's nowhere else to turn to to get even the semblance of unbiased help. Which is why I'm venting all of this even though I know it's the internet and there could be nobody on the other end.

(Wow, this reply's kinda blossomed into a lot more than I planned, sorry 'bout that!)

[ 07-21-2012, 12:25 AM: Message edited by: LizC ]

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Robin Lee
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Hi Liz,

With our message boards as active as they are, there's no void here, I can assure you. [Smile]

Yes, discussing mental health issues in depth is outside of our scope. However, we also see all aspects of a person's health as being interrelated, so we can definitely support you through the process of finding help.

I'm glad to hear, by the way, that learning that someone else had similar struggles to your own was enlightening and validating to you. [Smile]

So, where and how to find help? Do you have a regular doctor you see for physical check-ups, when you're sick, and so on? If so, do you think you'd feel comfortable talking to them about how you can find some mental health support?

Forgive me if
I know it's summer right now, but are you in school, either high school or college? That is also a place you can start in terms of looking for counselling.

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Robin

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WesLuck
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-hugs for Liz- [Smile]
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Sans
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Hey, Liz. I'm definitely no expert on mental health, but I can relate greatly to what you're saying, and thus shall endeavor to reply.

I'm also struggling with feelings of numbness. Like yourself, I believe that these feelings are a coping mechanism due to having experienced abuse in the past. I can totally hear you when you talk about cutting in order to excite some sort of emotional response from yourself, because I really hate feeling numb and I had tried cutting as a method of breaking out of the detachment in the past. Personally, I'd rather feel agonized, depressed, suicidal, anything - not nothing.

These days, however, I employ the use of healthy coping strategies when I feel numb. Some of these I discovered through therapy, others through trial and error. I listen to heavy metal on full blast, I write in a notebook, I scribble furiously, etc. Do you think that it would help you to try using coping strategies; in other words, activities that don't involve harming yourself or others that would help you cope when you are experiencing numbness? I personally find that splashing red paint on paper is a good substitute for cutting. If you want to physically feel something, you could also try holding ice cubes in your hand, or slapping a rubber band on your wrist (recommended to me by my therapist). These methods are considered to be safe whereas cutting is not.

You're not a "faker". I understand your line of logic and I find it to be perfectly reasonable. Cutting, for a lot of folks, can be an indirect way of crying out for help. It is true that folks also choose to self-harm for a physical manifestation of their inner turmoil. There are a lot of reasons why people engage in self-harm, period, and none of them are more "valid" than any other. The bottom line is, folks who self-harm are usually coping/dealing with something, whether it be their own emotions, a difficult situation, something which is causing them distress, something. I don't believe that you need to feel ashamed at all, Liz. I'm glad that you recognize the fact that professional support for you would be a good means of helping with something that you cannot deal with on your own. [Smile]

I agree. I do tend to slip back into self-harming if I am triggered by stress, a distressful situation, overload, etc. And I think that you are extremely knowledgeable in matters relating to yourself to have realized that. Right now, it might be helpful for you to consider what those triggers are for you. You've already identified that numbness could lead to cutting. That is great, because the next time you feel numb, you can use one of your coping strategies (which hopefully does not involve self-harm) in order to get you through the difficult patch.

As Robin stated, we can definitely support you through the process of finding help for yourself. Let me remind you, though: if you feel like you are about to seriously harm yourself, and/or like you want to act on suicidal tendencies, and/or like you cannot keep yourself safe, CALL AN AMBULANCE IMMEDIATELY. If you are in emotional distress, you can also get someone to drive you/take a cab to the hospital.

I, for one, think that what you are experiencing is definitely not "fake" or "invalid", and I think that everyone else will agree with me. [Smile] It's not "fake" or "invalid" just because other people have different experiences/point of view.

Hope that you are well. Hang in there!

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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LizC
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Firstly; I just realized that posting something like that and then dropping off the face of the 'net for a week was not maybe my smartest move. I totally didn't even consider it, but I was about to leave for a...camp-like thing this past week, and I wanted to get it out before I lost what I was trying to say. But I just wanted to lead off by saying that I'm good. This week was incredible, and, honestly, miles better than any kind of group-experience I've had in the past. I actually walked away feeling confident and better about myself than I have in a long time. I made friends and connected with others and that really helped with the loneliness I was feeling.

quote:
So, where and how to find help? Do you have a regular doctor you see for physical check-ups, when you're sick, and so on? If so, do you think you'd feel comfortable talking to them about how you can find some mental health support?

Forgive me if
I know it's summer right now, but are you in school, either high school or college? That is also a place you can start in terms of looking for counseling.

I'm in a bit of a bad situation; I have a doctor, but our healthcare program recently lapsed because, so I really can't go to her. I think I might be able to talk to her if money weren't an issue(I have a job now, so it may not be), but there's also the fact that I'd want my mom to not be in the room, and I don't think she'd leave without asking a million questions, questions I don't want to discuss with her, y'know?

I'm in a high school, but we don't really have a counselor or nurse or anything like that. Ditto for the college I'm enrolled in. I don't know if I need professional help, but I'm in the unfortunate situation where if I were to seek mental health help, it would be extremely difficult to do so without my parents knowing, and again, they'd have questions I can't answer...which would likely result in not only no help, but also more restrictions/crackdowns.


quote:
Like yourself, I believe that these feelings are a coping mechanism due to having experienced abuse in the past.
I have a question; forgive me if it's a bit weird or blunt or anything. Were you physically abused, or verbally/emotionally? If the latter, how did you come to the conclusion that it was, in fact abuse? I ask because I used to think maybe I had experienced something on the border of emotional abuse, but I never really categorized it as such because it wasn't done with malicious intent and I know my parents loved me and didn't mean to/want to neglect me, but they didn't know what else to do. I know my current issues are similar to those who have suffered abuse, so I have symptoms(just like my siblings; they have suffered through abusive (physical and more) relationships after leaving home, largely because we are vulnerable to the type like my dad, even though he's not actually abusive per say, but controlling and demanding at home and super nice/charming in public), but not quite the traditional definition of the originating issue.

I've adopted quite a few methods of my own over the years; I listen to music(like Three Days Grace, which is an awesome band for when you're feeling depressed), I chew on things(I have this weird oral fixation-type thing where sucking/chewing/gnawing on things calms me down and helps me focus; I didn't stop sucking my fingers 'till I was ~12), I like to get creative and stuff. I used to use a rubber band, which I think I read about in a pamphlet on anger management/depression that I'd smuggled from somewhere, but I slowly stopped using it, so I just took it off. I don't really struggle with the active urge anymore on a regular basis, but it's always niggling in the back of my mind, more so when I hit rough spots, like you described. I don't plan on doing it; I hate how it makes me feel and I know it's not safe or good, but I also know that when you're in a bad place, all logic goes out the window and you can't think completely straight. Thankfully, the last time I was feeling low, towards the end of the spring semester, I had the presence of mind to message my friend(one of the two that I feel I can talk to) and tell her I needed help. I just always feel guilty about asking others to take the time to deal with my problems if they're not getting paid for it or don't explicitly offer the help. I have a history of taking advantage and manipulation, so I'm overly wary of it.

I think, right now, my biggest trigger is loneliness. I like to be alone, if it's by my own choice and if I need time to sort through my thoughts, but when I start to get that alone-in-a-crowd feeling, which is connected to further isolation, which, y'know, is connected to the numbness bone. I'm trying to avoid that through activity, but I also forsee some problems in the fall that could be problematic, and I'm trying to figure out a way to avoid hitting that problem before I get there.

Posts: 37 | From: Texas | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sans
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Hi, LizC! Glad to hear that you're alright and have had a great week! It's awesome that you've made friends and connected with others.

Don't worry, your question is not weird or blunt. I was sexually/verbally/emotionally/physically/ financially abused by my ex-stepfather for 6 years. I came to the conclusion that it was abuse through reading about the types of abuse, signs of abuse, etc., on the Internet. That is what actually led me to "come out" with my story of how I was sexually abused by him to my mother, resulting in a visit to the police. I understand what you mean when you say that your father is controlling and demanding at home but puts up a charming front in public. My ex-stepfather was two-faced to the extreme; he was really violent at home and a complete "nice guy" in public.

Those sounds like some awesome healthy coping strategies. Listening to music, creativity, and using a rubber band are all great. I'm glad that you don't struggle with the active urge anymore on a regular basis. In ways, if cutting is consistently used to cope with difficult emotions/situations/stress/lack of emotions, it can eventually become something of a compulsive habit that goes out of the person's control. And I'm really glad to hear that you messaged your friend and get across to her that you needed help. Asking others to help us with something that is beyond our control is not manipulative. Granted, it is better to go to someone who has had training in dealing with such issues because your friends might not be equipped with the information/experience of how best to help you.

Hmmm. You are going back to high school in the fall, correct? What do you think of joining clubs/sports teams/extracurricular activities in an area that you are interested in? That could potentially help you to get connected to others who are interested in the same things as you are, and make more friends. Also, how about community events geared towards young people? Are you interested in joining some of those?

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

Posts: 537 | From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sans
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The difficulty getting to a healthcare professional does sound like an issue. I'm not going to make any suggestions on that, because some of the other users and volunteers are way more knowledgeable on this than I am, but I am going to remind you of one thing. When you feel that you are in danger of seriously hurting yourself and/or acting out suicidal ideations, CALL AN AMBULANCE IMMEDIATELY.

Meanwhile, would it help you to call a distress/crisis hotline in your area if you are in a rough spot and need someone to talk to? I've looked up the following hotlines for you:

24/7 Crisis Hotline - 512-472-HELP (4357)
http://www.integralcare.org/?nd=crisis_hotline

Texas Suicide & Crisis Hotlines (there are several on the page)
http://suicidehotlines.com/texas.html

Mental Health Crisis Hotlines in Texas (there are several on the page)
http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/mhsa-crisishotline/

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

Posts: 537 | From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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