Saturday, November 10, 2012

All But Forgotten

The holidays have become a rather dicey time of year for me.  They are for a lot of people, I know, for a variety of reasons.

In the 25 years that I've been solo, I've probably spent 90 percent of my holidays alone ~ meaning on my own on Thanksgiving and Christmas Days. 

To a large extent I've gotten used to it.  But I've noticed that as I've aged, it has been getting more difficult.  It's the "not being an integral part of a circle of family or friends" that has become so painful for me.  This is hard for me to admit, but it has become obvious to me that my presence is simply not sought out by anyone, not even people I consider my closest friends right here where I live.  If I want to be someplace for the holidays, I have to invite myself.

Years of petitioning to be included in groups or activities -- and not just for the holidays -- have left me virtually unable to do so any longer.  The pain of not belonging is so great and so deep.  I hate being the third wheel.  I hate being an add-on.  I hate that I'm not thought of as someone to include in others' festivities.  This is such a replay of my being cast out as "other" by my family that it is immensely depressing.  Not only was I ostracized from my family, I was replaced in my mother's limited affection and positive regard by my step sister.  I became the step sister, the interloper, the one on the other side of the window looking in, the one who never got one iota of financial or emotional support, the one who's needs and concerns were never considered, let alone met or addressed.

I've never really fit in anywhere, with any group of people.  I've always felt like a stranger.  I am not someone that people think of to invite or ask to be a part of.  You have no idea how sad this makes me feel.  And believe me, I have devoted extensive time, energy, creativity and personal resources on countless individuals and groups over the years where there was some possibility of connection between me and them.  If seeming bonds did develop, they subsequently weren't real and deep and didn't last; mostly, though, it just never happened at all, despite my effort and good will.

While it is true that each of us dies alone, I never in my life thought I would end up spending nine tenths of my life completely alone, on my own, unaffiliated with family or a count-onable group of friends, with no support other than what I've been able to scrape together to meet my basic needs in life, with no help through life's most difficult moments, all of which I have negotiated on my own.  With essentially no one to depend on for much of anything except occasionally listening, when reality has become too much for me to bear.

It's like life forgot about me.


4 comments:

  1. First of all, Connie, I'm sorry for your sadness. I don't function well in groups, either, and don't get invitations, but then when I am invited, I often decline, too. Having said that, this is also a post that makes me think because I tend to see you as one of the central characters in the art quilt/textile art world, around whom others gather.

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  2. Maybe you should regularly start inviting people you know over to your place for special and not so special events and really make them feel extra welcome like it is the best thing ever that they came over. That's the best way to tie people to you and build up relationships. You must show your willingness to be hospitable and to want to share your life. Always be spontaneous and ready to entertain at any moment no matter how short the notice. xox

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  3. Funny... when I was growing up, we always had big family get-togethers for holidays. As someone I now recognize as a very hyper personality, it always had me overactive, sleepless, agitated... and very glad and relieved when it was over. My family has been dead now for a long time, and Bruce's kids are in different states, so it is just the two of us. I realize that's one more than you, but it's kind of a relief for me to not have to worry about a big get together on holidays. I do much better when I have a regular daily routine, and I seem to do well without a lot of social interaction. One thing I have learned however is that if I want a friend, I have to be one. I still have active communication with a gal I first met in 1966, and I consider her to be a good friend. Since we moved here in '03, I have made 2 friends who I have become very close to, and it boils down to just staying in touch, reaching out either by phone or e-mail, and suggesting outings or having them do the same. One is married, the other is single, and we might go days or weeks without seeing each other... but we connect frequently. So I guess all I'm suggesting here is to try and connect with others who share your interests... it might not get you an invite to holiday events, but you might not feel as isolated and alone. Hugs and best wishes to you, dear friend!

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  4. I'm very much in your situation, Connie, in regards to being invited for holiday events. I've come to realize that people are just too wrapped up in their own lives to stop and think about those of us on our own. Or they offer these blanket "you KNOW you're always welcome" invitations, which as you say, ends up meaning inviting yourself. It makes me most uncomfortable to have to ask to be included.

    There have been exceptions to this, years when I can actually see the little grey cells working as in conversation a friend realizes I may NOT have plans. Many years I DO want to be left to my own devices. But it is always nice to be asked.

    There have been times when I've let myself be irritated or depressed or angry about what feels like a slight. Then I have to remind myself that there are so many just like me feeling the same loneliness or exclusion...so very many.

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