Isolation & Connection

I’ve been in an intense struggle of choosing relationship over isolation, battling loneliness and desperately wanting connection, but feeling frustrated when I can’t connect and thus wanting to shut down and isolate more. Possibly being overly introspective in an inaccurate sort of way which has led me to be exceptionally selfish lately. I’m so focused on wanting to fill my need to connect that I’ve stopped actually caring about the people in my life. It sounds backwards, but it’s true.

One of my closest friends called me out on this last night. I zone out on him way too often. Like…if I don’t deem it “actual connecting” or if it’s something frivolous in my estimation I just stop listening. I don’t mean to…but it’s been happening more and more. So I’m also feeling like an asshole right about now. I used to pride myself on being a good listener. Now I’m having to convince myself I still actually love the people in my life. I’m also struggling to believe that making new friends is even worth it.

Some of this comes from some difficult changes that have happened with Bushbaby over the past year. She’s very different now and our friendship is too. Overall it’s not a bad thing and we are still friends and still love each other, but the process has caused a lot of pain and I think I have trust issues that I never had before. I don’t like being someone who has trust issues.

In May I had a few weeks where I was really struggling with the specific residual wounds of that situation. On top of that I was struggling with feeling isolated whenever I was with my family simply because I’m single and relating to people who all got married and had families young is difficult.

I realized that the isolation you feel because you are the only single person in the group is worse than the fact that you are still single. You can’t contribute to the conversation about child labor or the various joys of childrearing or sex, and those people don’t know what to ask you so they just don’t. That isolation is far worse than the fact that you don’t have a husband yet even though you want one.

And then you ask yourself,”Do I want one? Or do I actually want to go be a hermit in the mountains with a few sheep and my cat?” Because hermithood would be easier than wanting and trying and failing to connect and then you wouldn’t hurt anyone when the process morphs you into a selfish asshole and no one could reject or misunderstand you ever ever again. Just you and Jesus, some sheep and a cat.

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But it would be a waste. And I believe that none of this season, this pain, is a waste. It’s life.

As tempting as it is, hermithood is not true living.

Other contributions of this season:

Falk (while still a fantastic human) is not right for me and I’m longer interested the way I was. The more I spent time with him the more I realized we wouldn’t have the right kind of connection that makes you want to talk and talk forever.

Ironically, the Lord forced me to hang out with Shanks for a few hours so that I’d have to see him as human and stop flat-out disliking him. I had to face why he made me so insecure and got under my skin so damn easily.

First, it’s easier to paint someone as an all around unfeeling, inconsiderate jerk than to be ignored and rejected by a good man.

I also realized that he reminds me of some guys I went to college with who were very cerebral and only cared about people who impressed them with their intellect and wit. Anyone else was rarely acknowledged and definitely not valued. I spent about two semesters in this friend-group and then realized I always felt horrible about myself afterward so I stopped hanging around those people. I attributed the same snobby callousness to Shanks because his treatment of me felt very much the same and I saw his intellectual side come out more than any warmth. As I have said in previous posts, I value warmth and compassion, so when I felt the opposite I immediately assumed he was just like them: snobby, arrogant, and exclusive. I also realized that I’m snobby toward people I view as snobby. Then I realized that just because his intellectual side might show more dominantly, that doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t love people.

At this point I still don’t know much about whether he’s a jerk or a prince charming or what. He could be a nice person and he could be a total snob. But I’ve at least been stripped of my preconceived notions enough that I don’t seethe when I see him, because 90% of my feelings about him were derived from my own issues and only about 10% of it was actually his doing. Who he actually is remains to be seen and I’ve cleaned all my scribbles off his slate at least.

He still intimidates me. I also realized that part of my whole “my man has to love people and see people and be warm” thing might be because I don’t think a guy who was particular would ever give me a chance. Maybe it’s this subconscious belief that it would take a guy who really loves people to notice and have enough grace to pursue me.

Yikes, that is a vulnerable confession. I hate that that level of insecurity is in there.

I was also sick for a few weeks (which was not fun) and my roommates have been busy with trips so I’ve spent a lot of time alone. I’ve watched a lot of TV which hasn’t helped because you are watching shows about connection and seeing characters connect or suffer being disconnected and you long and then relate and then feel like you have no life and you want something to happen because nothing ever happens and somehow you are the hermit already except you are still having to interact with people and still having to try. None of the perks of being a hermit. Only the disadvantages of feeling alone.

Ay-yay-yay what a mess.

I’m a mess.

 

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A Confession of a Bad Excuse

I was texting a friend tonight who also struggles with masturbation. He was telling me about this video game he was playing that he’s been grossly invested in in the past couple weeks.

His character fell in love with another character and he said he was surprised when a seemingly innocent conversation option led to a graphic sex scene. He said it was really awkward and “bad bad bad.” To which, knowing the struggle, I gathered that it was fuel for his fantasies.

I tried to call him a while later about something else and he sent me to voicemail. Sadly, my thought was, “He’s either in the middle of playing that game, he’s asleep, or he’s masturbating.” Because, after him telling me about the sex in the game, I assumed about him what would very likely happen if it were me.

Often, when I consume the sex thrown at me in entertainment and advertising, I give myself the excuse to masturbate. “Well, I didn’t see that coming so now that it’s in my brain I’m going to have to get it out.” And of course in order to “get it out” I rationalize that the only way to truly do that is by getting off. Getting it out of my system. Like it’s some sort of food I’ve digested and the only way to pass it is by having an orgasm.

And in some ways this becomes a truth, even though it’s twisted. It is possible to consume sexual material and develop a hunger for it…a need for it. Ask anyone with a porn-addiction and they will tell you the same. But food’s main purpose is to nourish, and sexual material does nothing of the sort. It leaves you wanting, longing, itching for relief from the loneliness and the lack in the places you wish were being filled. It’s more like a drug.

But when it comes down to it, when you shine the light on it, it’s not that either because it’s not an actual substance. It’s a thought. An image. It doesn’t actually have tangible physical properties. Which means you don’t have to physically expel the material! It doesn’t require digestion like food. It doesn’t have to run through your veins like a drug. It absolutely can pass into your mind and back out with only a mental response instead of a physical one.

So basically my excuse to masturbate when I’ve viewed something that got me going is not really an excuse because I can change the channel, I can think of something else, or even rebuke the thought in Jesus’ name when it comes back later. And I don’t mean being aroused because that can happen really fast and is usually a natural response to viewing sexual material. But just because we were aroused doesn’t mean the material has to stay in our heads until we can satisfy that arousal. Because, again, it’s a thought. It has no physical substance and therefore needs no physical processing, only mental.

On the flip-side, when you look at a sexual relationship the way God designed it there is no lack. There is an actual physical person requiring an actual physical response. You physically consume one another while mentally processing real experiences instead of mere ideas. Seems a whole lot more satisfying and…well…natural, I guess.

I know that porn has always been around, but I try to imagine what it would be like to live back before TV and internet and billboards infiltrated every facet of our lives. Back when sexual material was something you had to go specific places to seek out instead of something you had to go to specific places to retreat from. I probably would still have masturbated. As I’ve mentioned before, my imagination is fantastic. But perhaps I’d have one less excuse.

(P.S. For my more literal readers…by “the places you wish were being filled” I mean need for relationship and also the vagina. In case that was too metaphorical for you I thought I’d spell it out. Again, Relationship and the Vagina. You’re welcome.)