I'm only 22, but I feel like I've given up on the notion of developing fulfilling friendships or potential romantic relationships with others because of my past. How do I change my attitude so that I can hopefully develop more fulfilling relationships?
posted by anonymous to human relations (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I experienced a lot of traumatic human/social relation kind of experiences from the ages of 13-19. During this part of my life, I was bullied on the playground and treated poorly at home.
I don't remember much from this point of my life, but to sum it up: people mistreated me and I remember one person throwing a shoe at me for no reason during elementrary school, I was called a lot of names during this part of my life too, I struggled to fit in during primary and middle school. Then, in high school I found it difficult to make friends and ended up becoming part of one group since a friend of mine talked a lot to the people in this group. Eventually, they all turned their backs on me, ignored me, and chose to side with the bully in the group after she created drama between us. At the time, this was hard for me because I felt particularly close to this person prior to the demise of my relationships with group members including this person. I ended up walking the hallways alone, feeling like an outcast. I missed out on events that feel trivial now like prom, but felt important at the time. I was also bullied by one kid in my science class who called me names like "alien" based on how I looked and threw things at me while nobody did anything to intervene. I truly felt like an outcast and to make matters worse, there was a lot of family dysfunction happening during this point in my life. One parent drank to cope with their depression while the other used physical abuse to express their aggression.
Despite all of this, I still desired friendship, but the emotional residue from my past moved with me into my early college years. I've learned that you can't actually run away from your past. Anyways, during my first year of college I had a difficult time developing friendships with others. I had a really shitty roommate during my first year, we didn't get along, and she reminded me of someone from high school (as discussed in the paragraph above). She was the type of person that threw a party after I had moved out of the dorm room because she was relieved that I was gone. She was the type of person that took the time to get to know others, only to use that information against them so that there was a power struggle in relationships. And, she was the type of person who would make a lot of immature judgement calls towards others based on things like their appearance. So, she was pretty much a mean girl.
I struggled to cope with this part of my life and ultimately bottled everything up inside. This led to a breakdown resulting in a year and a half's worth of therapy sessions, psychiatrist sessions, and psychiatric nurse sessions as provided by the college's resources. I knew that my mental health was in a bad place so I started to distance myself from a lot of people, places, and things in my life that reminded me of my past. I also didn't know how to cope with my mental health, struggled to maintain any sort of relationship with others, and kind of fell off the face of the earth.
During this part of my life, I also developed some really shitty coping methods like drinking severely (lost a lot of friends in freshman year because of this), eating copious amounts of food to the point where I had gained 79 pounds to be exact, and a few other unhealthy things. I also spent A LOT of time cooped up without any plans, watching the time go by as I immersed myself into television shows and the internet.
I am in a much, much better place now. But, I have noticed that I am quite apathetic about developing friendships with others. I feel like I've become a lone wolf because I don't think I'm friendship or relationship material. I just don't feel like anyone would understand me or that I'd find people with similar interests. I think a part of me has also been scared to develop friendships because I struggled with learning how to progress something from an acquaintance relationship to a friendship. With all of this being said, I really like myself, enjoy my company, and take better care of myself now than before. But, I feel like I'll never find my place in terms of friendships or relationships. I feel like I've removed the idea of even developing friendships with others because the time has passed and that so many people around me already have tons of friendships from high school and college. I know that it's never too late to develop friendships, but it becomes harder over the years, especially if you are perceived as different based on your looks or 'off' because of anxiety issues.
How do I change my attitude so that I can develop friendships and relationships with more people? As of right now, I have one friend that I've lived with for three years and another that's from my hometown. The first friendship is more fulfilling because of our personalities which mesh well together although we don't have a whole lot in common whereas the second friendship is less fulfilling, but just a relationship I keep because of our history which has spanned 14-15 years now.
I'm going to be moving to a really big city in less than a year from now so I'm hoping to develop the social skills necessary to develop friendships. So, that's where I turn to you, I'm hoping people can help me figure out how to change my attitude towards friendships and relationships so that I don't miss out on such an important part of life (a part of my life that I desperately longed for during my teens).