My Struggle to Emotionally Connect

Happy New Year to everyone and many blessings to you all.

My Christian parents came to visit for the Christmas and while we were driving from NY to MD a very familiar conversation ensued. My father asked why don’t I go back to church?Keep in mind that this has been a repeated question almost EVERY time I am around my parents. I give the same answer in a variety of ways but it is not satisfying. The bottom line is I just feel uncomfortable with strangers or large groups of people.

This is not something new. When I was younger, people used words like quiet and shy to describe me. I never liked large groups of people most of the time and I am ALWAYS uncomfortable around strangers. I am very slow to warm up to people. My mind was always social and exploratory but my body did not follow obediently. Ironically, I grew up with family-cousins, aunt, uncle, siblings, grandparents, parents and I shared a bedroom with my older sister. I left my parents to go away to college and lived in the dorm, I joined the military and had to share space. My only alone moment was in the shower (except in basic training) which is still a peaceful place for me even when I am alone. In a swarm of people, I was always trying to find my quiet place.

As I got older and independent, I made a strategic behavioral change to be more social which was a huge effort. I accomplished that goal but in the last few years, my old personality trait is now more dominant again and I struggle to be engaged with people including in a church. Throughout my life, I never had any issues making friends. I have a great personality with some quirks of course. However, something is very different with me now than I was at least 5+ years ago.

I am finding it nearly impossible to make an deep emotional connection with people. It’s concerning. Being on my own, I have enjoyed my single life. I have done a good amount of things with my singleness, I have made good use of my single time and I will continue to do so. However, after years of being in my personal solitude, it feels like I created a distance with being intimate with others. I may have created an emotional barrier that is now taking a toll when I truly do need that emotional intimate connection and support.

No man is an island. I now fully understand that phrase. I find myself being nostalgic of the days when I had my family around me and the strong relationship I had with others. I miss the ability to feel a deep connected love. I miss that support. I was watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 and I envied the main character. I have inadvertently created an emotional island with no easy means of allowing people to share it with me. Interestingly, my mother has a similar personality (she admitted to never having friends, she keeps to herself and socialize when needed, she has always taken care of herself and others) but the difference is she has had my father for over 48 years. I have my island.

Over the years, I have inadvertently created loneliness for myself and I am now feeling the side effects. This is not to say that you cannot be independent and enjoy single life. This is to say that throughout each aspect of our lives we need to stay intimately connected to someone. I did not realize that I was breaking those connections with the people in my life. I can admit that I am emotionally distant, I have walls with reinforced steel and a moat with piranhas swimming below.  I look at the relationship I have with people who are physically in my presence (versus friends and family far away) and I know that I am missing that connection – the connection I was once able to make. I have sat in churches and felt nothing as if I was in an empty sanctuary.

At this age, I do not want to intrude on other people’s lives. They have kids, spouses and other responsibilities that takes priority over me. I know that if I really needed help there are people I can call without hesitation but due to my emotional barrier, I have a hard time making a connection. My emotional health is not heading in the right direction because I can see a life of perpetual loneliness and emptiness. Don’t get me wrong, I will always crave and enjoy those solitary moments and doing things on my own – that is just a part of my personality because yes, I am 90% introvert. However, I am talking about having balance.

Our society now encourages isolation and there are more lonely people than we can imagine. For example, I do not know anyone in the complex I have lived in for over 2 years. I may be able to recognize two people and I have said no more than good morning to a handful. People make friends, date, and live virtually which is something  that offends my old school nature. I briefly dated someone who believed it was better and easier to text than to talk (hence briefly). So, how does someone connect when the world is disconnecting?

I would love to say I found an answer. This lack of intimate connection becomes painfully obvious when going through personal difficulties. The things I used to be able to manage on my own are now overwhelming at times. I become emotionally tired having to be 100% in charge all the time. I have worn myself out by systematically doing everything on my own all the time. I did not create a balance. I have allowed my emotional connection to become tenuous from building a protective wall without incorporating a flexible gateway. My goal is to try to fix the damage I have created. I am not sure what that is going to look like but I have to start somewhere-anywhere.


If Your Mate Offends You, Then

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The Christians who are familiar with their bible should see the direction in which I am heading with this post titled “If your mate offends you, then.” This is a variation on the theme of Matt. 18: 8-9 in which Jesus made statements that if something offends you then  cut it (him/her) loose. Harder said than done isn’t it?

I was having a discussion with a male coworker who made the statement that he does not understand why bad men always get together with good women and treat them badly. I promptly responded that men are allowed to behave badly because the women practice the 70 x 7 forgiveness concept. This is when a woman of good character continues to forgive and accept a mate with bad behaviors. The results of this 70 x 7 forgiveness concept are the bad behaviors continue and the offending partner never learns consequences due to “sparing the rod and spoiling the child.”

Disclaimer: This is not a male bashing post. The bad behaviors are practiced by both men and women; however, men seem to be the offending partner most of the time while the women are more accepting of bad behaviors.

The male coworker was also speaking from experience. He too had been one of those men and it took years before he finally realized the error of his ways. Even though he had been married for over 20 something years to his now deceased wife, he had given her hell for most of those years. A lesson to be learned is that a large number of marriages are never always pretty from the inside!

Men/women who behave badly did not just wake up one day and became relationship terrorists. They displayed these behaviors right after the first few ‘get to know you’ dates were over. So, if a woman sees these things early in the relationship, then why does she continue to choose the bumpy, crying, upset, angry road? Is being single such a death sentence? Is it better to be coupled with trouble than to be single?

Being in a bad relationship is like playing the slots machine (do they still call them slots?). The person with character can rely on intermittent winnings and she continues to hold on to hope that every play will win her the jackpot for life. However, the issue with gambling is, the players will always lose more over time in comparison to what they have ‘won.’

Women are so accepting of the ‘hanging in there’ idea to the point in which their spirits are damaged in the process. For some, it is damaged beyond repair and for others it takes lots of mending. So why not cut loose the offending party? Why torture yourself with someone whom you know perpetually and intentionally offends you? Well, like the parable of the offending hand and eye, the offenders serve a purpose. The offending party serves as a self-esteem booster because you are not single like those other pathetic people; the offending party provides a sense of comfort in which occasionally the person can be reliable; the offending party gives the sense that you are not completely alone in life; and the offending party is the evil that you know.

The good character women/men are NOT  victims. They are willing participants in this heartbreaking cycle. They still have enough strength to be able to handle the crap that is thrown at them. Their spirits are not defeated as yet.  I told my coworker that these ‘bad guys’ have life quite easy. They know that there are always women out there  willing to put up with their foolishness. This means the bad guy does not care that he leaves a trail of broken spirits behind because there is always one more waiting.

As women, we allow bad behaviors from men. We allow ourselves to be abused physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally because of a lack of self-confidence and unstable self-esteem. As Christian women, God gives us something else to rely on in order to draw confidence and self-worth; however, the pressure of being married to or in a relationship with someone (good or bad) outweighs the big picture.

One- Can Be A Terribly Lonely Number

A coworker disclosed to me that she had some feelings of not wanting to exist. At first I was confused because I could not fathom this very vibrant person feeling this way. However, as we chatted a bit and she explained what was going on, I completely understood and wondered how many people have similar experiences.

First, I have to make a disclaimer that being single is not inherently bad, shameful, or a curse. However, the issue that presents itself  for many singles is the loneliness. This woman was lonely and despite being involved in social activities and church, it did not and will not replace the loss of feeling important to someone. I made the mistake of thinking that people who have had lives (marriage, children) before being newly single have nothing to complain about. Afterall, they had a past experience to reminisce about. It’s the terminally single who needed to cry and complain.

Her thoughts of death came about because she did not feel needed by her adult children with families and other family members who have their families. Singles are not always shut ins with no lives, on the contrary, they have friends in the community and church  but there is the feeling that no one truly cares; you are not important to anyone anymore. The connection is not the same  as it would be if you had your own family or spouse.

I know the bible fanatics will say just believe that Jesus loves you etc… etc… However, if you are honest with yourself, Jesus is not enough when it comes to such an intimate connection. No single woman looks at Jesus like a lover/husband. If he were enough, then there would be no need for marriages, romantic relationships, and having children. The love for Jesus would take care of all those human desires.

Humans want to feel needed, special, important and loved by another human being. Most singles want to be married because they want that intimacy that comes with having a relationship with another person. For some singles, probably a large number, church is the worst place for them. This is so because the pews are filled with couples and families which are a constant reminder that they do not have that connection to another human being. Sis So & So goes home with her husband and children and you go home with… you. 

It can be very difficult to be single at times and this is something most of us will not willingly admit because it is “pathetic”. How many singles have said or felt some of these: “If something happened to me over the weekend will anyone miss me until I did not show for work on Monday;”  It has been a long time since someone hugged you or touched you affectionately; “If I die today would anyone really care or miss me?” “I wish someone/anyone could see the real me;” or “Can I trust anyone  to truly be there for me without feeling like a burden if something were to happen.”

It has taken years but I am beginning to recognize what a difficult burden it is to be a single individual today. Well, looking back at history it has always been a struggle ie. Ruth and Naomi story. God made Adam and Eve for a reason and it was not just to procreate. There is a special, certainly biblical, justification for one human being to feel connected to another. Think of this: a perfectly healthy baby can die without human contact; so why is it hard to fathom the desires for singles to NOT want to go through their lives alone. One is indeed a very lonely number.

Loneliness Overdone

    I was at work in my office and I overheard two coworkers talking about loneliness. One lady who is a close collegue of mine had told her story so many times to the point I became annoyed to hear it again. The problem is not that she is able to express her feelings and frustrations of being lonely but that it is now  becoming whining. If you are a single individual with or without children, you can understand that feeling; however, when does it move from self expression to self pity?
  Our office is disproportionately filled with women and the majority are single. Unfortunately for my ears, she is not the first woman in the office to show desperation in trying to cure the disease of loneliness. One lady was a serial internet dater who would call every new guy her boyfriend. The issue is the relationships usually lasted the most 3-4 months. The other woman just did not know what to do with herself without a boyfriend (and sex) so as soon as her 1yr relationship ended she immediately found someone else in less than a month and proclaimed that she always liked him. On the personal side, my previous date was also in the pursuit of curing his ailment and he too was a serial dater (found out after I said goodbye) and his overly needy personality (found that out very early) was an instant turn off. He brought up marriage before I could pronounce his last name.
   Feeling lonely usually comes with singledom and this is just a nasty part of our lives that we have to deal with whether we like it or not. It happens if you are a home body or someone social and outgoing. The issue is recognizing that it is a normal feeling but please for the love of all that is good shut up with the whining!