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Old 12-19-2007, 05:29 PM   #1
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What exactly is a normal life?

I am writing this from a lonely person's view. I have went through alot of things in the past year, estrangement from my family, they actually cancelled Christmas to get back at me for taking up for another family member. My son is joining the Army Jan 8th and I have MS with the new symptom of horrifying panic attacks.

On the upside I have a wonderful husband. I have friends in the sense of co-workers and church people but not real close one on one friends. I ask the question of what is a normal life, because suddenly at 41 I really don't think I know. My parents have been emotionally abusive and non-entities my entire life. The only brother who was close to me has now stopped calling to because my mother made him.

I guess I feel like I am the only one in the world with such a messed up life and wonder what is normal as far as human contact for others. Could you describe your daily life to me? Do you all have bunches of friends that call you everyday? Do you see your family everyday or do they call you? What is your life like? Do you ever go through a day without really talking to anyone about anything that matters? I guess I am asking this to try an figure out if I really should feel like I am lonely or if I am just "feeling" down and lonely and it really just normal life. . Make any sense?

 
Old 12-20-2007, 02:51 AM   #2
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Re: What exactly is a normal life?

Quote:
Originally Posted by irisheyes39 View Post
I guess I feel like I am the only one in the world with such a messed up life and wonder what is normal as far as human contact for others. Could you describe your daily life to me? Do you all have bunches of friends that call you everyday? Do you see your family everyday or do they call you? What is your life like? Do you ever go through a day without really talking to anyone about anything that matters? I guess I am asking this to try an figure out if I really should feel like I am lonely or if I am just "feeling" down and lonely and it really just normal life. . Make any sense?
Hi Irisheyes; I'd just like to say your post really touched me because I fully understand that state of confusion and that desire to look into the lives of others and contrast and compare with the view to figuring out if our own lives are actually lacking by comparison. I went through a period of feeling really low that stretched from summer '05 to the summer of this year. Things are starting to get better now and have been gradually for the last six months or so. The problem was that I had finished college and had decided to work from home, but while that had it's benefits it also meant I was somewhat cut off socially and I discovered in that time that I need to be around people more; I need the company of others, I'm a more social creature than I realised (that came as a big surprise to me!)

I am moving home in the spring, and am making big strides on a project I'm working on, and have made important changes in my relationship which had been troubling me for quite some time, so things are looking up now and I'm very much looking forward to 2008. My advice to you would be to set yourself a goal, something important to you, and work towards that and do not let up for a moment till you get there. Perhaps that goal would be severing the sense of control your family have over your emotional state? If you decide to go that route I'd advise counselling to help you through that.

I know what it's like to be lonely for a long and protracted span of time Irisheyes, and it is very emotionally debilitating. I think everyone goes through some days without discussing the things that really matter; I know I've gone through many of them. I think the thing to do, since you have a good marriage to a good man, is to discuss them with him exclusively, at least for the time being.

As to discussing these things with close friends, I had a close friend, the best friend I've ever had actually, and when she hung herself in the summer of 2000 I didn't think I'd ever discuss the things that really matter to that degree again. I was so messed up that about eighteen months ago, in the summer of 2006, I eventually decided to go to group counselling for those bereaved by suicide. A very surprising and unexpected twist came about: There were only four people in the group, so we all got very close over the eight weeks. I made three good friends, two guys and a girl.

She and I are especially close now, we talk on the phone a couple of times a week and we go out together about every third or fourth weekend. We sometimes talk about how strange life is and how we'd never have met if my best friend and her partner had not both killed themselves. Of course we'll never replace the people we lost and it's not about that; it's just that we've realised that though we have both suffered and still suffer those losses, we've also experienced that when life closes one door it does actually open another one, but you've got to work up the courage to walk through it.

I remember how she and I first started talking one on one outside of the group; she had had a particularly emotional time of it in the group one day and was crying her eyes out. I really felt for her and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. I was thinking; "that girl could really do with someone to talk to", so I approached her outside as she was on the way to her car and I gave her my phone number and told her she could always give me a call if she was feeling down because I knew just what she was going through. (And I did know exactly what was ahead of her as she had lost her partner the year before and I had been grieving six years at that time.)

I was actually very nervous doing that, approaching someone I scarcely knew with the offer of emotional support and a listening ear. Making friends as an adult is a totally different thing compared to making friends as a child; there's none of this walking up to a stranger like in the schoolyard and simply saying; "Will you play with me"? lol If we, as adults, did the adult equivalent of that and walked up to a stranger saying; "Would you like to go for a drink and a gossip"? they'd just look at us like we were mental and hurry on by! So, I think part of the problem is that we are simply unskilled as adults when it comes to making new friends; we simply don't know how to do it while not straying from the confines of social norms. So, the trick we've got to master is making new friends, reaching out to people, whilst staying within the remit of what's considered 'normal' behaviour.

In the example I've cited here a new friendship came about as a result of my reaching out to someone in emotional pain and that was a circumstance that's probably more unusual than the beginnings of most new adult friendships. People often advise others to do classes in order to meet new people, whatever it may be, painting, dancing, etc; I've never taken that advice myself but it sounds like very good advice to me, because when there's a similarity between peoples interests and experiences, a common link, that is a starting point, and unfortunately for us adults, we don't have the honesty we had twenty or thirty or forty years ago when we could simply say to somebody we'd like to get to know better; "I'm lonely; would you like to be my new friend"?

What I would like to say to you in response to the last couple of lines of your quote above is this: There is no such thing as a 'normal' life. If you are feeling lonely it is because your life, at present, does not fit your personality; it does not furnish the amount of social interaction and emotional closeness that you need in order to feel content and fulfilled, and in response to that you need to be kind to yourself and provide yourself with all of your needs, including the emotional ones. Emotional closeness is one of the worst lacks we can experience; social isolation is a one way route to depression and it is experienced as something rather like a vortex; it can make you feel unworthy, embarrassed and ashamed; it can lead you to the false and damaging beleif that if you have no friends it must follow that you deserve no friends; and that is a psychologically dangerous way to feel. It can lead a person to find solace in addiction and other self-destructive behaviours.

Apologies for the length of this post; I just felt I had a lot to say on the matter, and that is a good example of the way my mouth runs on; I need to communicate, on so you can imagine social isolation was experienced as quite a nightmare for me!

 
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Old 12-20-2007, 06:25 AM   #3
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Re: What exactly is a normal life?

Thank you! for writing all of it. I appreciate that you did. I guess I do feel exactly as you described, emotionally alone and wondering if it is me that is the problem. I have been going to my family physician who actually brought me into this world, (how strange is that), but he has told me nearly the same thing. I do start to wonder if my own parents would emotionally abuse me as they have since I was a kid, then truly there must be something wrong with me. Even though through counseling and hearing other's stories I KNOW better in my head, the heart is a different matter.
I actually do "see" people all the time, at church, at school, I just finished a MA degree, but this just seems to be "on the surface" types of relationships. You know what I mean. I don't have that one or two friends that I know I can call in the middle of the night and cry. At least I don't think I do. I doubt everything anymore and my doc says this is due to the fact that when we are brought up by untrustworthy parents then we tend not to trust in or believe in anything. Is that your experience?

 
Old 12-20-2007, 06:55 AM   #4
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Re: What exactly is a normal life?

My daily life with my family? I do try to call my mother every day to "check in". If I didn't call her she would only call me if she needed something. Anyway, my older brother still lives at home and he always has a comment about me calling which is so irritating because he can't do anything without running it by "mommy" first. I do talk to my sister and my SIL almost every day. But that is where it ends. I don't have all the close friends I use to have, but that's okay. We all changed and they are not the kind of people I want to be around anymore. I have been reaching out to the PTA volunteering and have been teaching Sunday School at church in a way of trying to make new friends, but it does take time. The hardest part is knowing that we are moving in a couple of months time so I will have to start all over again. But I have to lead by example for my girls. I want them to be comfortable and confident reaching out to new people even if it does feel unnatural or awkward. My husband is my bestfriend . We joke about how "sad" it is, but we are okay with it.

I understand what you mean by "untrustworthy parents". I grew up the third out of four children. I was the classic forgotten middle child. I was very active in track, the drama club, and color guard, but my parents never showed their support. They never missed my brothers' hockey or baseball games, but they never showed up for anything of mine. I can't even tell you how many broken promises I got from last minute something to do with my siblings. Add to that a few crappy relationships and trust is a hard thing to do with new people. Opening up can be scary. I can be very negative at times although I hate that about myself and try my hardest not to be that way.

The thing to remember is nobody has a perfect life. We all have our own demons and drama. The important thing is to make the most of what you have. You can't change other people, but you can change how you react to them. I have learned how to deal with my mother now in a much more positive way. Is she still self serving and manipulative? Absolutely. But I don't allow her to affect me anymore. I've learned to accpet her for who she is even though I don't approve of her actions.

 
Old 12-20-2007, 07:24 AM   #5
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Re: What exactly is a normal life?

Thank you Happy. I have tried to accept my mother and the rest of them that enable her in the past. But she is not happy with my putting up with her, she must actively torment me or else she is furious. My counselors have all said the only solution to this case is to cut ties. This means with my dad and brothers as well. Only one brother really, because the middle brother is an alcoholic, abuser and drug addict, whom most of the trouble revolves around. Meaning my mother takes up for him, enables him and strangely tries to make everyone think I am the one who has all the problems. It makes no sense but it is true. My father does whatever she says out of fear she will divorce him. The last time he dared to speak up, he told me that she literally jumped up and down on the bed screaming for him to not talk to me and to give my drug addict brother what he wanted. She was about 68 years old at the time. Imagine that in your mind....

I have tried in the last 7 years that it has been so utterly intolerable to do what you have done, to no avail. Two weeks ago my drug addict brother and my mom came up with the idea of banning me and my husband from Christmas. We had both just helped them all out financially too. So that is where I am. I have been having panic attacks and even though these people are horrid, my Dad and my little brother would be tolerable if not for the other two, yet I still feel abandoned... especially at Christmas.

 
Old 12-20-2007, 07:34 AM   #6
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Re: What exactly is a normal life?

I know you don't want or need my pitty irisheyes39, but that is so sad! I think your therapist is right in telling you to sever ties with them. It seems you have gone above and beyond what most people would do in your situation to try with your family.

There is a positive side to being "banned" from Christmas, NO DRAMA. It's your turn to start making new memories and new traditions with your family. It's completely understandable that you would feel abandoned, but what are you gaining from a relationship with them? Nothing but abuse from what I can see. Enjoy spending time with your son before he is deployed and focus on making this the best Christmas you can for you and your family. I know it won't be easy for you, but it will be a very positive and healthy thing for you.

 
Old 12-20-2007, 07:44 AM   #7
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Re: What exactly is a normal life?

Quote:
Originally Posted by irisheyes39 View Post
I actually do "see" people all the time, at church, at school, I just finished a MA degree, but this just seems to be "on the surface" types of relationships. You know what I mean.
Oh I do indeed! It's possible to have many people in your life and still be very lonely. I mean, what I went through, after my best friend died, (and I didnt even realise I was doing it) was that I pulled away emotionally from all the other people in my life. I didn't nurture the new friendships that I had, so of course they did not grow, and I began calling my older friends less and less, so of course we grew apart. Perhaps some kind of emotional defence mechanism was kicking in there, I don't know, but looking back on it, that's what I did.

I had tons of people in my peripheral life, and still do; but the thing is that actually has no bearing on whether or not a person is lonely. People have this image of loneliness; they imagine someone sitting alone in a room and explain away that persons loneliness as an actual lack of people. If only it were that simple; if that was the case all the lonely person would have to do to remedy their loneliness would be to go to a crowded place; but as anyone who's ever been truly lonely knows, sometimes crowded places can be the loneliest places of all! That's where you see people who actually are emotionally close interacting and showing their closeness and as a result you end up feeling like even more of a reject! I remember in the wake of my best friends suicide I COULDN'T STAND to see two women sitting together in public sharing a drink or a meal or whatever; it was fine if there were three or four women, but two I could not stand; two made me feel the loneliness, oh God yeah, it was awful. It was not that I resented other womens friendships, it was just that they reminded me I'd lost the most important one of my own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by irisheyes39 View Post
I don't have that one or two friends that I know I can call in the middle of the night and cry. At least I don't think I do.
Now here's the thing Irisheyes; you may actually be wrong in assuming so. Here's an example of how I recently realised I had misjudged the depth of a college friendship of mine: A girl I'd spent four years in college with rang me one evening about six months ago. Now bear in mind I've known this girl over six years at this point. She was sounding not her usual self; she's almost always cheerful and upbeat, so naturally I asked her what was wrong. Well, she just choked up on the phone and told me how upset she was and why; she just started bawling all over the place and let it rip - big style! I was really surprised as I'd never heard anything like that out of her before, but there you go.

Naturally I comforted her and we ended up talking for about two hours about her situation and how she might best manage it. I told her to call me the next day and let me know how she'd got on, which she did. Now if I have a problem that's emotionally upsetting for me I feel safe calling her for her advice or opinion and I'm much less liable to worry that my hurt will overwhelm me because my attitude now would be, so what if it does? That conversation broke down a barrier and brought our friendship to a more emotionally open place.

Possibly some of the people you know would be a lot more welcoming of your calling in the middle of the night to cry than you realise! Of course I'm not suggesting you pick up the phone and let rip, ha ha, and I know that you are in too reserved a place to do that right now anyway, but I would suggest that you allow yourself that vulnerability at some future point if the situation arises where you truly need a listening ear. That sort of experience is an emotionally bonding one for both parties, it truly is, and it's worth taking the risk of being temporarily vulnerable. Now my college friend and I whinge and moan about men all the time, about our children, about our frustrations, about our goals and our struggles to reach them; the upshot of that phone call is that we are MUCH closer, but that never would have happened had she not called me that night and allowed herself to be vulnerable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by irisheyes39 View Post
I doubt everything anymore and my doc says this is due to the fact that when we are brought up by untrustworthy parents then we tend not to trust in or believe in anything. Is that your experience?
I think that growing up with untrustworthy parents is damaging, certainly; both of mine were mentally ill, so there was very little trust there, let me assure you! I also think though that as adults we can get over that. I recently read a great book by a man called Richard Carlson called 'Stop thinking - Start living'. It's all about learning how to turn off the negative thoughts that run through our minds. I'm sure that book could be beneficial for you because as children of abusive parents I think people like you and I are much more predisposed to negative trains of thought, and God knows they need turning off! Seriously, it's a great book; you should give it a go. I intend never to lend my copy out but to re-read it every couple of months; it's that good!

 
Old 12-20-2007, 08:01 AM   #8
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Re: What exactly is a normal life?

Hi irisheyes - I'm sorry you're having such a hard time at the holidays, this time of year tends to bring all the junk to the fore.

To get to your point, I really don't know if there's any real such thing as a "normal" life. I think there's the "ideal" life, loving parents who are healthy, functional, still in love, with a well kept home that you are always welcome in, lots of good friends who love and appreciate you, who would drive you to the doctor's if you were sick or who would water your plants if you were away, etc. Loving husband, 2.5 kids, the picket fence, the whole bit. But how many people actually have that? I think some do, but it's not as common as we want to believe it can be.

I too can go days not only not having a deep conversation about anything meaningful, but I can go days without even talking to another person. People don't seem to take to me very well. I've never been liked very much, never really had any real good friends, and I've come to accept that people just don't really like me around, so I stick to myself for the most part. If I don't go to work for a couple of days, I have no human contact whatsoever. I don't have any friends, don't date anymore, sort of gave that up too, or rather come to accept that it's a fruitless, pointless effort. No, I dont' feel "normal" and sometimes I can feel like a real freak, but you know, we all come from a different realm of experiences that make us who we are, and I don't believe who we are is really "wrong." We all could stand some improvement of course, but all we can do is work with what the good Lord gave us.

Families can be tough to deal with this time of year. I'm not really looking forward to dealing with my parents come next Tuesday, but I know when they're gone, I'll miss them and be sorry for every moment that I didn't try to make the best of things. Hang in there. You have a wonderful husband you can rely on and that's better than nothing, and you have yourself. The holidays will soon be over!!

 
Old 12-20-2007, 09:57 AM   #9
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Re: What exactly is a normal life?

Thank you all! I am surprised really that so many others feel much like I do. I think that we have this "ideal" in our minds like a cookie cutter and we are all trying to make our cookies fit the mold. Evidently mine doesn't nor do most people's. Someone mentioned changing my thinking and I know this is so true. In fact the last panic attack I had was preceded entirely because I had been sitting around "thinking".....

 
Old 12-20-2007, 11:03 AM   #10
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Re: What exactly is a normal life?

Quote:
Originally Posted by irisheyes39 View Post
I guess I feel like I am the only one in the world with such a messed up life and wonder what is normal as far as human contact for others. Could you describe your daily life to me? Do you all have bunches of friends that call you everyday? Do you see your family everyday or do they call you? What is your life like? Do you ever go through a day without really talking to anyone about anything that matters? I guess I am asking this to try an figure out if I really should feel like I am lonely or if I am just "feeling" down and lonely and it really just normal life. . Make any sense?
I'm replying before reading the other posts, so I apologize for any repetition.

I think the definition of normal is different for everyone. We define it by our own personal experiences, what we've learned throughout life and compare it to what we see in movies/tv, read in books and see in other people's lives. For me, growing up without my Dad around was normal. But to my best friend, she always felt awkward talking to me about her own father who she was very close with. My parents were divorced when I was about 6. To me, the Dad not being around was normal.

You are very certainly not the only one with a "messed up" life. We've all had a messed up life in one sense or another, in one extreme or another. To an outisder it would have seemed like I had a good teenage life; roof over my head, food on the table, a core group of friends, I was a cheerleader in school. But to me I was "messed up." I basically hated who I was from 12-17 yrs old. I often thought of suicide, came close once, I was jealous of my sisters, i was paranoid, didn't trust anyone, i seeked attention from "bad guys" and just got myself involved in bad situations. I thought for the longest time that I was the only teenager who had ever contemplated suicide. I find out years later that almost everyone I know thought about it at least once.

In a photograph I have a normal family, but if you look into each individual life you'll see many things that can be classified as "messed up:" alcoholics, suicide attempts, institutionalized, pregnant then married, cancer, heart disease, drug problems, cheaters and the list goes on.

Experiencing bad times is normal for everyone, it's life.. you can't avoid it. Some people dwell, some people use it as motivation to better their lives. But I don't think you'd ever meet anyone who didn't at one point or another think their life was messed up in some way/at some point.

To get to the part of your post that I quoted:
My daily life; I work mon-fri 9am-5pm at a job I hate. I refer to it as "soul-sucking" b/c I literally feel as if the life has been sucked out of me while I'm here! I go home to an apartment that I recently moved into, so have yet to really meet anyone. I do my odds and ends around the apartment while my boyfriend works from 4pm-midnight. I watch tv or movies, paint or draw. He comes and I'm thrilled to see him, we talk for a bit until I go to bed and get up again the next day to repeat it all! Quite boring actually...
Weekends are filled with errands and/or relaxing and fun things; movies with friends, date night with the boyfriend...

I don't talk to friends daily. Once in a while my one best friend in the whole world, my "non-blood" sister, we'll call one or the other and have an hour+ conversation. Otherwise my friends and I call or text with important info. I talk to my family more through e-mails then phone calls, maybe once a week if that.

I would say that I go through days without talking about things that are important. Sometimes it's b/c I dont want to talk about it and other times it's becauses no-one is there when I want to talk. I write in a journal which helps, b/c most of the time all i need is to get it out of my brain anyway. I have a small group of very close friends that I don't see much b/c they all live back in my home town. We keep in touch with social websites, e-mails and text messages now-a-days.

Even though most of my day its just me with myself, I don't feel lonely. Eventhough I don't talk to my friends or family daily, I know they're always there. I have people in my life that I know love me, even if it's not said everyday. Yes, I have days where I'm feeling needy and lonely.. but for me they're just moods.

I think "adnormal" is the new "normal!"

Sorry this is so long, I hope it helped in some way or another!!

 
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