Friday, October 3, 2014

Isolation Is Emotional Solitary Confinement

(This post comes from a reader named Roger and is used with his permission.)

Isolation is where I've lived most of my life. That's why I felt alone and sad much of the time. Even when I was in a crowd or with a group of friends I felt out of step with everyone, just not quite connecting on the level everyone else seemed to.

Abuse immediately isolated me. At first, the need for secrecy and knowing I was sharing in something no one else could know about gave me a sense of superiority. I felt special, privileged (for a while anyway). Later I felt used and eventually worthless.

At first we can feel pretty special, but later we realize we've taken on a burden we can't seem to throw off. I ended up feeling different and weird, and thinking no one else could possibly have those kinds of thoughts, feelings, or desires. After that came the longing to be normal—whatever that was supposed to mean. I was left outside, stealing glances at other families who seemed happy and normal.

That led to a lot of overcompensating and arrogance and not a little amount of anger, which I tried to repress unsuccessfully. I felt trapped, alone, and unable to break free to interact with my closest friends. There was always a wall there that I couldn't tear down.

With God's help and those who love me and understand, I'm learning new ways to break through the barriers. I appreciate their patience because the trust thing is difficult for me to navigate after all these years.

That turmoil began when I was very young. When young, we're like clean slates; everything that happens to us is written on those slates in capital letters and indelible ink. We don't have the experiences and maturity of adults to dilute the impact. I suspect that's why things can become more deeply ingrained and why, as adults, we have such a difficult time recovering from them.

It's also why I wish I could have received help when I was younger—before the cement dried.


Joseph said...

Thanks. I relate to so much of what you have shared. I became very religiously legalistic and very judgmental of others. Only after I began therapy was I able to give up and be free of those two destructive things. I now see them as cover-ups for my wondering if every person I met could suspect what had happened to me. Thanks for sharing your feelings with us.

Mark said...

"I wish I could have received help when I was younger, before the cement dried." Wow, what a descriptive statement! I GET that! Thank you.

Joseph said...

Wouldn't it have been a blessing! But I remind myself that God has His own timing when I may never understand. So I take joy that the walls I built have fallen and the chains that bound me have been broken. Freedom at any age is freedom to be received.

Mike said...

Cec I remember being in crowds but feeling alone and out of place. Sometimes my friends tried to engage me, sincerely, but I was in a trance and felt frozen in place. I had a baseline that was fear, ready for the next male to humiliate me.