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Isolation-fest 2022



I've been on an especially intense isolation streak lately. Usually I can try to get support online even though I have very little human interaction in real life. But lately, it feels too overwhelming and pointless. Talking to people online is hugely helpful, but the problem is that I'm lacking deeper relationships (especially offline) that feel satisfying.

This has always been my pattern and it's becoming worse as I get older. Human connection is scary. It is so, so fucking scary. Because it is unpredictable. And I perceive it as uncontrollable because I'm afraid of doing the basic things required to maintain a healthy friendship (ex: communicating what I need or want).  I've had a lot of unhealthy, abusive, and unfulfilling friendships. I feel burnt out and I cannot imagine a future in which I feel differently.

Another part of it is a fear of being known. When people know you, they see you, they watch the things you do. That feels terrifying to me.

I grew up feeling monitored. It's a feeling I don't fully understand yet, but it's definitely a response to the environment I was raised in (critical, chaotic, etc). I remember worrying that I was being watched by my mom on hidden cameras when I was around 9 or 10. I didn't think it was really happening but I was anxious about it, to the point where I looked around at the walls to see if there were any that I hadn't noticed when I did something that I felt I could get in trouble or be judged for.

When I got older and started leaving the house by myself the feeling of being watched was underlined by of the area we lived in. It was geographically isolated and the community was somewhat small. If I went out and someone who knew my parents saw me, my parents would usually hear about it. And even though I was a well behaved teenager, my mom would question me about why I was doing things in a judgmental way that implied I was doing something weird, unacceptable, or bad. She feared being judged for my actions and losing control of me, but she behaved as if her feelings were reasonable. Like they were based on my behavior rather than her anxiety. I didn't feel fully free to exist in the world outside of the house without worrying because it felt like at any moment I could be seen and reported on by one of the hundreds of invisible eyes floating around.

It makes sense that I feel monitored and judged as an adult. And that I feel knowing more people would increase these feelings. But I don't know how to be another way. I want to have complete control over when I am seen and recognized. At the same time, I want to be able to maintain basic relationships with other humans. These two things are incompatible and I do not know how to let go of either one. I fantasize a lot about how much peace I would have if I didn't feel any desire for human contact, if the social part of my brain could be scooped out. But I do have it. I just also fear it. The idea of being able to let go feels impossible and distant.

Online, I worry a lot about wording myself incorrectly or being attacked. Because it happens- it's the internet, people show uglier parts of themselves sometimes when they're interacting with other people who don't feel "real". It's inevitable that some people will attack you online because they are responding to their own issues or misinterpreting what you're saying. I do not know how to stop caring.

The internet has been my most consistent, reliable source for human connection for most of my life. It taught me how to take care of myself. It gave me access to a world outside of my small isolated area, introducing me to ideas and information that I couldn't have accessed otherwise. It is a place where I see people help each other every single day for no real reason other than a desire to help.

But it's also the internet. Which means it's also at times poisonous, chaotic, and cruel (even if not towards me). It is a microcosm of humanity. Wonderful and horrible. I love it sometimes and hate it at others.

I'm usually more able to let go of my anxiety and interact more online, but I don't know. Once I start feeling like part of an online community my anxiety increases and I sometimes feel like I need to back off to avoid getting overwhelmed. I can't always take in the kind things people say to me and respond to them in a timely way, and by the time I find the words it no longer feels socially acceptable to respond. And when people are unkind I remove myself completely most of the time. It doesn't feel like it should be a big deal because I understand that these are strangers and that their opinions have no inherent relevance— people say stupid things all the time. But I feel what I feel.

Being fragile sucks.

Edited by moop


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