Thoughts from Therapy – Loneliness and Friendships

Therapy has been a bit on and off these last few weeks, as my therapist has been away training. I have to admit to feeling a bit let down, honestly, as most of two weeks has passed between sessions and lots of things have come up which I would really like to have had the chance to reflect on in a session.

This, and a few other things, have highlighted how lonely I feel down here. I’ve fallen out of contact with friends I had in London, and I definitely feel some resentment there. I feel like I made some effort to stay in touch, travelling to London a few times and contacting them to meet up, but it hasn’t felt like anyone wanted to keep in touch much. I guess we were never that close, but even in the absence of real closeness, casual contact and meeting and shooting the breeze is still something I miss. At the moment I don’t have anyone down here that I could just ring and ask to the pub. I mean, I rarely feel the urge, but a few times this week a day has been tough and the prospect of talking about nothing over a pint has really appealed.

I have definitely missed meeting my therapist, and whilst some of that is down to our specific relationship, some of it is just feeling lonely in general. I wonder if part of what I do in our sessions, raising things I have struggled with in the past week/am struggling with, I could do just as easily with a good friend. But how do you find someone like that? So many people my age are preoccupied with raising children, or working jobs which I find frankly mind-bogglingly boring or pointless. How do I meet people who have a similar moral/ethical perspective, are intelligent and emotionally mature?

And in writing that, I’ve realised this is probably the same problem that a lot of middle-aged folk have when they’re trying to find a partner. And I definitely have a new-found sense of sympathy with that!

I guess part of the problem is that I’m not very average. I’m not going to find people who I gel with very often, because my interests and my ethics and my passions are not common. People also worry I’m judging them, and I’m not, I’m just disagreeing with them, but when I use evidence to back up my opinions and I’m usually articulate, I think that can be really intimidating. Actually, sometimes even having an opinion seems to put people’s backs up, like I’m supposed to just blandly clap from the background whenever people say something.

I know I do have good friends, scattered around the country, but I could really do with some local ones. Though right this minute is probably not a brilliant time to be looking for new friends, let’s be honest. I’m emotionally vulnerable, occasionally sad and sometimes prickly. But on the flip side, part of that is down to feeling lonely, and the only way to deal with that is to try and form friendships.

It’s just hard to know where to start. Neither job has introduced me to people I feel any closeness to, though part of that might be my mindset – I suspect that I throw out some serious barriers. That’s great for seeming professional, but I wonder if I’m missing the chance to form closer relationships with some of the many intelligent people I meet and work with in my primary job. I’m not sure how one goes about changing the barrier issue really, but I deeply suspect it has a lot to do with actually being myself. I’m really good at being pleasant, friendly, and listening to people. But to get that closer connection I’m missing I need to share my passions, to let my emotions show and to risk some vulnerability.

I think that might really be the key. In the past few years I’ve gotten so  good at boarding over my real self, in the pursuit of not offending people and not making people feel like I was getting angry at them, that I’ve pretty much stopped showing them any substantial emotion at all. I mean, I had gotten to the point where I was pretty much avoiding outwardly experiencing much in the way of emotion at all. In light of that, it’s not surprising that I didn’t keep that many of my London friends. They must have experienced me as blank and unengaged, even whilst I was saying all the right things. I guess the change was so slow no one noticed it, because I wasn’t always like this, I know.

So maybe instead of looking for new friends, I should think about repairing things with a few of my older friends. There are people local who I’ve fallen out of contact with, a little. We were never close, but how could we if I wasn’t being close to almost anyone anyway? That’s not repairing then, but building a real relationship from scratch, for the first time. It feels like something that’s worth a try, at least. Maybe it’ll just end up being a loose collection of friends who rely on me to organise pub trips and food – I’ve been there before – but in some ways even that would be good right now, I think.

Thanks for listening. Turns out, even blogging can be a reasonable stand-in for a therapy session. Writing to strangers on the internet is surprisingly relieving experience. Give it a try, if you feel lonely, and maybe let me know how it feels? I’ll be down here on the coast, taking old friends for a drink in pursuit of new friendships.

 

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Thoughts from Therapy – Loneliness and Friendships

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