~ archived since 2018 ~

Social alienation: my experience

October 5, 2021

Ever since I was little, my relationships with others have been pretty much nonexistent. I never felt close to my family. My mom was the closest thing to a relationship I had, and by relationship I mean that she would smother me when she was pleased. Until she didn’t get what she wanted, then she would have massive fits where she would talk about how hard it is to be a mom and how none of us did enough for her. So I was always afraid one wrong move would set her off.

My father I remember more fondly but only because l never really knew him. I always thought that he wanted me to play sports, but I never could, so I never felt good enough in his eyes. It didn’t help that he would have vicious fits of anger where he would yell at us too. Either way, he’s dead now - he died when I was 14 from illness. I genuinely could not give you five unique characteristics of his person.

The rest of my family I feel as if they’re just strangers. I don’t really feel any sort of affection towards or from them.

From the get-go, school sucked for me. I could never connect on any meaningful level with others, and was haunted by the persistent sense that I was totally unwanted, if not outright hated by the other kids. I recall playing sports in Phys Ed, having mental breakdowns when I screwed up a kick, crying and smashing myself in the head. Ditto for when I did less than a perfect score in class, because I had already decided that academic talent was the only value I was ever gonna have. If it wasn’t crying, of course, it was screaming and destroying stuff. Needless to say such behavior did not endear me to others, in fact it led to even harsher rejections, to the point where I was told that I was scaring other kids and that school parents didn’t want me around their children. I spent a lot of time in the counselors office.

I did make some friends. But the overwhelming fear I had seen justified over and over again in the most demoralizing ways made it extremely difficult to relate to them, and once middle school started and my mom stopped pushing me, I quickly stopped hanging out with almost everyone, other than one person. But he and I have drifted apart, and I don’t see him much anymore either.

Which brings us to now. I haven’t hung out with someone from school in probably 5 or 6 years, and I’ve come to feel the effects of total isolation. I watch as everyone around me effortlessly makes friends, hangs out, dates, falls in love, and I feel not only completely alien to them, but totally incapable of changing my situation. Deep down, I don’t trust anybody. Not my family, not my classmates.

I have the sense of something beyond simple loneliness, something more akin to being not human. 18 years of social deprivation have made me wonder if there’s anything left on the inside of myself that would qualify me as a human. As if I died a long time ago and I’m just a husk now. The very idea of friendship or being desired is uncomfortable and incomprehensible to me. You may as well talk to me about a square triangle, or speak to me in some dead language. If anything, the idea makes me afraid. I’m reminded of Harry Harlows infamous monkey experiments, where, after a lifetime of solitary confinement, monkeys showed no interest in socializing at all. Because when being alone is all you’ve ever known, the idea of not suffering is suffering in itself.

I don’t have any questions this time. If you’ve read all of this, thanks. If you have similar experiences, you can share, and perhaps explain how you address them.

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Post Information
Title Social alienation: my experience
Author thatbruh123
Upvotes 21
Comments 6
Date October 5, 2021 12:12 AM UTC (2 years ago)
Subreddit /r/MenSupportMen
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[–]SaracensFlanker 3 points4 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

Hey u/thatbrah123, I really empathise and understand that feeling of social isolation leading to total disassociation. My story is pretty similar to yours - the only difference probably that I was ok at sports and kept my outbursts of frustration for when I was at home alone.

In terms of addressing your experiences, you're halfway there in that you've identified what your issues are. Don't underestimate the power of that. Finding a solution, however, is the difficult bit. We are all unique. What works for someone else might not work for you.

And that's ok. I'd say divide your life into three areas: physical health, mental health, and finances (or whatever is most important to you). And identify what you most need to do in each of those areas to get to where you want to be.

As an example, for physical health, you don't need a sport as an excuse to get into shape. If you go to most gyms, they are full of helpful PTs, experienced lifters, and beginners like you would be. Most cardio (i.e. running/cycling) is completely free. You should treat yourself as if you are worthy of taking care of.

For mental health, you can try a therapist, getting outdoors more, or whatever to feel more security in yourself. Once you have that, it does get easier (with time and practice!) to make friends and acquaintances without questioning it all the time.

If there's a specific issue you want advice on, or that's more important than others, just reply and let's see what we can brainstorm, shall we?

You got this.

[–]FoolJones 4 points5 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

Hey man!

Don't lose hope. You have a life ahead of you and can learn all things that you feel isolated now. Not having opportunities to make yourself better is not proof of being less. It's proof of not having opportunities. Clear as that. Believe that you can be better because you can. Yesterday does not exist. Neither does tomorrow. You have all that you can see now. And can always build more. Don't compare yourself to others okay. Each one of us has a different journey and different story to live.

Thank you for writing about yourself! Huge brotherly hug from me! Treat yourself well.

[–]UnHope20 2 points3 points  (0 children) | Copy Link


[–]cryptohemsworth 4 points5 points  (3 children) | Copy Link

Hey man, I have a similar story to yours. First off I want to say I am really impressed (in awe frankly) with how emotionally mature, intelligent and articulate you are about this stuff - when I was your age I had little idea of what was happening within myself and would never have been able to put it down like you have here.

I am mid twenties now and it has only been in the past 12 months I have really started to recognise, integrate and heal what is happening in my internal world. Two books I highly recommend are The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kulk. The former is very short (~100 pages) and is about the effect of shame and fear on your mind and life. In a way it reminded me of the person I am underneath all the trauma, wounds, rejection and neglect and gave me hope for a future where I can be myself in spite of the fear I feel. The latter book is quite dense and when I first read it I skipped to the section titled 'The Path to Recovery' which describes different methods (all empirically supported) Dr Van Der Kolk uses in his work.

If you want a download link for these books I will happily PM you.

This kind of stuff is the work of life. Many people go through life with these kinds of unhealed burdens. It is not an easy task, especially at the beginning, but I can assure you it gets easier and life gets better.

Finally, if you can afford it a therapist that you click with really helps. Studies have shown the personality of the therapist is more important than the mode of therapy they use. So if you can find someone you trust it really helps.

Best of luck to you and know that you are not alone.

[–]thatbruh123[S] 2 points3 points  (1 child) | Copy Link

Thank you for the compliments.

I’ve heard of those books, but was always hesitant because of their “type” of therapy. That is, the very sugary sweet “you’re perfect and loveable” kind. This may seem blunt, but they’ve always kind of pissed me off because they seem very woman-oriented. Nothing wrong with that, of course; but as an 18 year old male, I’ve always have a sense that can’t understand the male perspective. With that being said, if they helped you, then I’ll take a second look at them. Perhaps I’m just being stubborn.

I agree that a therapist is a must, but that’s the funny part. I have a therapist; I’ve had one all my life, the same one actually. I just could never get myself to trust them. Only recently have I started to take seriously the effects of long term social deprivation, namely the complete lack of the most basic relationship skills. I have now started to speak with him about my inner life, my “real” emotions. Which is why I’m posting this, actually. The internet is not a substitute for social contact, but as someone who was uncomfortable even with interacting online, sharing myself virtually is a start.

The book I have been reading is No More Mr Nice Guy by Robert Glover. While it certainly has its flaws, the focus it has on the effects of enmeshing mothers and absent fathers leading to a lack of masculine identity is a important to me (which is also why I use this sub as opposed to the depression sub). I’ve ordered King Warrior Magician Lover, as I’ve heard good things about that as well for males in my situation.

I was going to say that I’ll find the books myself, but it occurred to me that part of my issue - repeatedly emphasized by both Glover and the kinds of books you mentioned - is a severe difficulty with asking for and receiving help. So yeah, it would actually be great if you could pm the books, that would make things a lot easier.

[–]cryptohemsworth 2 points3 points  (0 children) | Copy Link

I've read both the books you mentioned and they are also really good. I would still highly recommend The Body Keeps The Score but at the end of the day its about finding what clicks with you.

You can kill a man, but you can't kill an idea.

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