This sounds like such a good word. A magnanimous word. A word people strive for.
It’s a word people feel you should be happy to achieve.
But it hurts.
Because there’s a huge difference between being tolerated and being enjoyed.
Last night, I was at a Sister Circle where one of the women cited some research that said the major factor in happiness was social connection. I wanted to cry. I had been trying to tell myself I could be happy without social connection.
In the last year or so, I’ve become incredibly aware of the difference between being tolerated versus being enjoyed. Without going into great detail, my very first conscious memories are all traumas and the foundations of my PTSD diagnosis. That life put me in a position where I was regularly a burden to the people taking care of me. I was never actually loved or enjoyed. Nobody WANTED me around–they were stuck with me. That sentiment among the adults I was passed around rippled into their children. I was tolerated. Barely, at that. In fact, I was only tolerated when I was “good enough”. If I had a problem, things got really ugly. I’ve spent 30 years in various therapies and I’m certain that I’m only functional without a history of drugs and other things that go with PTSD BECAUSE of those 30 years of therapy. I still have things to work on, but I’m doing better than someone with my history has any hope to be doing.
So I have had a lifetime of being (barely) tolerated and that seemed to follow me wherever I went. I know that something about that kind of life has permeated me to the core in ways I can’t seem to identify (nor can my therapists). One told me that I simply come across as a parent or a resource rather than a friend… so people don’t really regard me as a friend. I’m sure that’s a huge part of it. But I know part of it is that I also still have a mental health disability and that will definitely be “too much” for some people to tolerate. It can sometimes cause me to be hurtful to them. And if that hurt overrides the positive aspects of being friends with me–then I’m cut out. I’m sure there is more. I have lots of theories. I just don’t know how to change that. The few times I manage to make connections, they fall apart pretty quickly.
I speak to lots of women that feel inept at navigating social politics and feel like outsiders often. They will try to console me with this and make me feel like I’m not alone–that this isn’t specific to me or my history. But at the end of the day, they have at least 1-2 close friends to lean on and talk to and spend some time with on occasion. I don’t. They diminish the importance of this because it’s “just one” or two people. But “just one” is one more person than I have in the world. And then there are the people who tell me that it’s all just me and in my head. It’s hard to have these conversations with people because they then feel on the spot to “be the friend”. It can’t just be a conversation. I guess it’s just an awkward conversation to have and I shouldn’t have it with people. Stupid me–I keep trying. Nobody can seem to hear “I have some extremely deep wounds that are affecting my ability to connect with people and I can’t figure out how to fix them” because everybody has deep wounds.
Not everyone has PTSD from such deep wounds at the hands of the people that were supposed to love and care for you at least just a little; and cultivated an entire childhood of the same. Sorry. Not the same. But nobody’s hearing that so nobody really has great input to help me fix it. And at this point, I’m pretty well convinced that therapists see me as billable hours.
BigGuy kind of runs into the same things; and as he is getting older but not necessarily more mature–I am seeing him being tolerated more than enjoyed. And I’m really sad for him because he’s being left behind. He doesn’t have a group that has embraced him for who he is and gotten to know his quirks and just enjoyed him in all his goofy love that he has to spill on them.
And Girly–in all of her profound insecurities about who she is in the world–seems to be cultivating a similar situation where other girls are just MEAN to her. It’s really hard to watch. All she wants is acceptance and even at this age, other girls kind of prey on that deep longing in her.
So while I ache with my own loneliness, I’m starting to ache wondering if I have cultivated that for my children. Have I inadvertently raised them to be rejected by others? Unknowingly? Unwittingly? Have I modeled that for them? Are they suffering at my hand?
I don’t know how to change it. I tried all of my life. And I tried to make it not matter. I just can’t make it not matter. I promise–I have tried. But I am feeling the full-on rage and resentment that never lived inside of me before regarding my history. I was always full of gratitude to have literally lived through it all and managed to have a relatively normal life–free of addiction and homelessness and regular hospitalizations. For years I made excuses for my parents–that they had their own illnesses. When I had my own children, that really changed. When is it illness and when is it evil? And was that level of evil and illness? I didn’t know and I didn’t care to know but having my children was the last nail in the coffin with my family. Not because I couldn’t forgive them, but because I needed to be sure my family was safe from them; and I could be given the space to try to heal. I am only fairly certain I will know when one of my parents is dead because I’m pretty sure a half-sibling from either one of them will tell me even if it’s not for several weeks. But I find myself waiting for the day that I know they can’t just pop up out of nowhere and hurt us.
It’s hard to heal.
And it’s hard to do when you’re still suffering alone with nobody that enjoys you. It just feels like a lot more of “the same”.
But I’m working on it.
Thanks for listening,