I did something today which was very silly.
I rejected myself before anyone else could. I sabotage most opportunities to make new friends. Because I fear rejection. So I get in first before anyone else can do it.
I have some issues when it comes to anyone trying to get close to me, as I’ve admitted a lot lately through my writing.
And it’s been such a long time since anyone aside from my few close friends have been nice to me. I’m not used to it.
So let me begin with my day…
I was beyond excited when I awoke this morning to a sunny day.
The relentless rain has prevented me from doing a lot of things.
The first thing I did was strip my bed, and wash my sheets. Then I proceeded to wash my car. Thank you OCD.
It got me thinking about the fact that I am very much not living my life.
I could have done anything at all that I wanted today, yet I chose to be the dutiful wife, and participate in the safety of routine chores.
Only I am no longer anyones wife.
My friend pointed out to me today, that I am living in the graveyard of what once was my marriage.
I unfortunately don’t know anything else. And I am so afraid of everything. Fear of living. Of experiencing new things, opening myself up to new people. My fear is completely destroying me, and any potential friendships around me.
I went inside the house, and I phoned a girlfriend for a chat. These days there are very few people I trust with my sensitive heart.
I feel like such a child sometimes. That I need constant pep talks in order to just get on with my day.
And then I heard a sound. My next door neighbour was in my backyard, cutting the edges of my lawn for me.
I promptly went outside, and I went and spoke with him.
“I’m so embarrassed! You don’t have to do this for me.” I said to him, as my face flushed a deep shade of scarlet.
I really do feel like a charity case at times. And I am so lacking in the self-worth department that I don’t feel as though I deserve it.
“No, no, don’t be silly. I want to do it.” He told me as he continued on. “Just go back to whatever you were doing.”
I went back into the house, my girlfriend still on the phone, and I burst into tears.
When anyone shows me any kindness, I am almost shocked, and it brought me to my knees.
“Why would anyone want to help me?” I asked my friend, sobbing.
“I understand.” she told me, having come out of a difficult marriage herself a few years ago.
It’s something that is indescribable in terms of how it makes you feel. A marriage breakdown.
We all cope differently I guess, and lately for some reason, I’ve not been coping well at all.
“It’s ok when people help you.” She told me. “There are nice people out there. I know you don’t believe it.”
I took a deep breath, went back outside again, and there was my neighbour picking up leaves, and his mate cutting the grass.
I felt so helpless. Like that pathetic single woman next door who doesn’t have anyone to help her.
Ordinarily, my father does this stuff for me. Only he and my mother have gone away again for another 3 weeks. And he’s not around to assist with my outside chores.
I went out the front of my house, and I proceeded to remove weeds from my front garden. I was overcome with guilt that I wasn’t participating.
My neighbours wife was in the driveway.
“Would you mind if I parked my car in your driveway? I just picked up the car yesterday, so it’s brand new, and the kids want to play basketball, and I’m worried they’ll hit my car.”
“Of course! You are more than welcome. Don’t even ask.” I told her.
“We are having some friends over for drinks later this afternoon. You are more than welcome to come. We’d love to have you.”
“Ok sure. I’ll let you know.” I told her.
Those of you who know me personally, know that that means “no”.
I was embarrassed. I felt as though they were only inviting me over because they felt sorry for me. Because I don’t get out all that much. That my only visitors are a rotation of two of my girlfriends, my sister, and my father.
That they hear me talking on the phone in the backyard sometimes. Sometimes I’m drunk and laughing. And sometimes I’m deeply philosophical. Sometimes they hear me cry.
Yet they know very little about me.
They know that I’m a writer. That I’m 35. That I travel a bit. That I’m a bit of an alcoholic. That I cried one day when my neighbour took my rubbish bins out for me. Because I was overwhelmed by his act of kindness.
They don’t know my surname. If they did it would be very easy to find out a whole bunch of things about me. You just punch my name into google and it all comes up for you.
My blog gives you as much information as you need to know about me, without digging any deeper. I carefully control the rest of it.
And it made me realise that those closest to me (in terms of my neighbours that is), know very little about who I am.
I really do lock myself away from the world like a shrinking violet, like my Mum, only days earlier had told me that I do.
I have a broken heart. That’s why. And I don’t know when I will be able to get over that.
I left the house this afternoon to avoid going to the neighbours house. I was worried that their friends wouldn’t like me, and seeing all of the cars starting to pull up in the street only fuelled my anxiety.
They told me to come over at 3pm. So I disappeared at 3pm. I’m really good at running away.
I returned at 6pm, hoping that I’d be able to slip into obscurity, and go unnoticed like I desperately attempt to do most of the time.
Only the neighbour heard me come home. And he asked me to come over as I was fumbling with my keys at the front door.
“Are you coming?” He asked me enthusiastically.
I felt myself flush with anxiety.
“You’ve got so many people there” I responded, trying as hard as I could to cling to excuses.
“Only ten people. C’mon. I’ll introduce you.” He said.
I thought about it for a fraction of a second.
“No that’s ok. Next time.” I told him, as I clumsily managed to get my key into the door.
My closest friend messaged me then. She was aware of what I had done today in terms of putting up my walls.
“They’re just trying to be nice. People don’t do things if they don’t want to. I think it’s you who feels sorry for yourself. Sorry. That sounded mean.”
I told her that I feel as though people won’t like me. That I felt uncomfortable. That I’m not good at making friends.
“Yes you are. You just think you’re not. And your next door neighbours are already your friends. And they’re trying to reach out. You’ve got to give and take.” She went on.
And then I thought about a conversation I had the previous night. About all of my fear s and insecurities. Women talk about that type of stuff.
I had a fellow writer give me some profound advice last night.
“My God you crucify yourself. You are not kind to yourself at all. You would never give your best friend or your sister the grief you give yourself. But you torture yourself so much. You need to learn to be kinder to yourself. You’re like those really religious types who whip themselves until they bleed. You are not a “fuck-up”. I would argue that in fact, you have your shit more together than most women your age. You just don’t let yourself relish in it. You’re strong. You write a blog that touches thousands. You have a broken heart – but that’s only temporary. You have your health. And you actually have men all over the world in love with you. You’re known worldwide too. You have followers from all over the world. Don’t undervalue yourself. You have thousands of people reading each post you publish. So many people who you’ve never met, know you and your life. Don’t forget the impact you have in the world.”
Sometimes it takes your own image being reflected in the eyes of others to recognise who you truly are.
I am a writer. That’s who I am at my core. And us writers, we observe.
Because I have so much difficulty observing myself, I have to ask often, what I am doing wrong.
I am great at noting down what I observe with others, but positively hopeless when it comes to myself.
And there was one piece of advice that I was given from my friend as I conclude this article.
“Make yourself uncomfortable. Because that’s where the magic happens.”
So whilst I did cowardly opt out of this afternoons invitation, I will attempt to make myself uncomfortable the next time, and learn to stop rejecting, and start accepting myself.
Because that is truly where the magic happens. When you learn to step outside your comfort zone, and embrace the possibility of something new. Even if it scares the shit out of you.