Saturday afternoon, a time when most of the world takes a little time off, to be around family. And to see friends, to head off out with them. Somewhere, anywhere, it’s the company that’s important, not where you’re going.
Meanwhile, I’m onto my third wash load of the day. The storm clouds are gathering outside. The tv is switched off. Nobody else is about. I am completely alone.
When you have depression, or people think you’re down in the dumps, you’re encouraged to go out and be among people. Truth be told, though, I actually prefer my own company, always have done. It’s very, very rare that I feel lonely.
Ironically, bar the last News Years Eve I endured, the loneliest I’ve ever felt was in a crowd of tens of thousands. I was invited along to a football match. I didn’t feel like going, as it was at the onset of one of my phases of depression, but out of social nicety felt obliged to.
Anyway, we get there, and with each and every step, I can feel this being a big mistake. I just don’t want to be there, or around people, but at the same time don’t want to let anyone down. I came up with a compromise that seems crazy, looking back, but at the time was perfectly rational.
The match was completely sold out, with hundreds of people looking for a spare ticket. I sold mine at face value and waited outside, a good two hours, until my friends came out.
When I met up with them afterwards, I couldn’t say a word. In a crowd of tens of thousands, I felt as if I was completely isolated from every person on the planet, and from everyday life, inside some invisible bubble. I was so, so lonely in that mass of humanity.
It’s possibly that night which triggers off my behaviour towards the few friends I have. They don’t number many, but tend to be good ones, who drop anything to help, even when you don’t ask them to.
Yet, after a while, I feel uncomfortable in their company, however good a time they or I are having. I become distant. Texts and Facebook messages tail off. When we do catch up, the talk is often stilted at first, and I sometimes just want to get home.
I can’t explain why. I can only look at indicators of it. One thing I tend not to like is to be pigeon holed into being a certain person, saying or doing a certain thing, people second guessing my behaviour. One relationship of mine ended very soon after she told me once “I can read you like a book.” Clearly she hadn’t bothered with the ending.
There also seems to be some sort of subconscious warning system in my mind, telling me “Don’t get too friendly, it’ll only end up going wrong.” How can I tell, though, if my subconscious is indeed doing that? Well, there’s a feeling I get in my body, inexplicably uneasy, maybe slightly anxious, then that’s it, I’m feeling uncomfortable in a social situation with them and I back off.
It really is illogical too. Despite my misgivings about my looks, I am smart, I have intellect, I’m witty, I can hold perfectly entertaining conversation in any social environment. I even mentioned to Lesley yesterday that she seems to be in my fan club, and she said it’s all from my conversation.
Yet there is this something holding me back which stops me being friends with my friends. Which stopped me going into that football stadium all those years ago too, I would wager. It’s an uncomfortable comfort zone to be in.
The zone is made that more comfortable, mind, with social media. I was particularly touched this week by one follower on twitter sending me a direct message even though I knew she was at work. But then, if I ever met her, I’m pretty certain within a short while, my mind would be saying something along the lines of “This is going too well. Get yourself home before something goes wrong.”
Which is the reason why I’m sat here, on a Saturday afternoon, with my computer and the washing basket for company while the rest of the world enjoys themselves. It’s entirely my own doing, how I’ve become so distant to friends so close. It means, as well, that getting out and about, enjoying the company of friends worry-free again, has to be my own doing too.
Until that time, the washing’s nearly done, let’s get that ironing board out …..