Over the years I have had a great many “friends”. It’s possible that the shear number shows how transient they each must have been. I make friends badly and keep them even worse. This isn’t to say I haven’t had some incredible, intense friendships but 6 months or a year later, they never remain and I’m left wondering why. Meeting people is hard. I am cripplingly shy, in fact social phobia was one of the first ever diagnoses I got. If you met me, you’d probably never guess the amount of effort I’d be putting in to staying on that spot and not running, as far and as fast as I could. I hide it well. I desperately want to be liked. As pathetic and impossible as that may seem, I do just want to get on with everyone. So when I meet people I’m quiet and reserved unless I have a drink in hand. Feed me a few sips of anything and the boundaries slip. I become the person I’d like to be; relaxed, chatty, flirty when I want to be and most of all not afraid of everyone and everything. This means most of the friends I’ve made since 18, have been properly met over drinks somewhere.
And once I think I have a friend, I’m away. I genuinely cannot see a single redeeming feature within myself so if someone appears interested and makes a bit of effort to find out about me, it lifts me in a way I can’t describe. Then I fall in deep, far more so than the amount of time I’d known the person would suggest. I become one of two things, either pathologically honest if they seem genuinely interested or acting constantly to be whatever it is I think will keep me in there. You see, it does just go back to wanting to be included.
The second group, the ones I’m acting for, are so pressurised. I’m constantly striving to fit in and it seems that whatever I do it’s not enough. I’m always left on the outskirts of the group, staring longingly at the warmth within. That feeling of belonging that I want to envelop me and keep me safe. I’m constantly being let down, apparently invited to events last minute or only because everyone else can’t make it and eventually all the little snubs (be they real or imagined) become too much and I drift away.
The other group is very different. There is a great intensity to some of the friendships where I really feel I can be me (and arguably those are the only ones that truly meet the definition of friendship anyway). I put the person on a pedestal, and begin to idolise them for being whatever it is I’m not. Popular, pretty, witty, charming; all that I will never obtain. Of course they never live up to that, I place them somewhere nobody could realistically obtain and inevitably they fall short. Then I become angry, make it clear that they have hurt me but with no explanation. How can I begin to explain that what they’ve done wrong is something they weren’t even aware they were meant to be doing in the first place.
Of course it never lasts. Something that intense can never be maintained and yet I don’t know why. How have I scared off so many people? Am I really that bad? Once they truly get to know me, they take the first possible escape route and get as far away as possible. It hurts. The pain is unbearable when something which in my mind has the potential to be perfect is taken away from me. I’m left to pick up the pieces, my heart laid bear and broken once again. So I restart the process, a chance encounter that leads to more of the same…