Just about done with this game of life.
June 2, 2012 11:35 PM   Subscribe

How do I cope with my seemingly pointless existence in life?

Okay, nothing drastic. I'm not planning to kill myself, I promise.

I'm just about ready to throw in the towel. Things are really at a low point, and I feel like I have failed. Sorry this is long winded.

I am going through a life transition right now. I finally got a new job and am LOVING it so far. It's a chaotic retail environment, but I love it.

However, my social life has plummeted to absolutely zero. I'm so lonely, it's unbearable. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong. I'm Deaf, so that's part of why it's hard to go out and make new friends, although lately I've been trying to meet new friends and people from work. It's hard because like I mentioned, it's a chaotic environment, and people are mostly there to work, not to socialize or hang out and "chill" so it's kind of a difficult way to bond with co-workers.

This post back in April ... there has been a major update to the situation with Amber and her girlfriend. First, Amber and her girlfriend ended up sticking to birthday dinner plans, thankfully (and a bit surprisingly). However, Amber's girlfriend (let's call her Diana) who is very reserved, began to increasingly ask me homework questions and ask me for basic homework help, such as citations and/or signing directions to her from the teacher because she couldn't understand the instructions. It began to grow more and more frustrating, being asked questions repeatedly, and Diana began to seem more dependent on my help, even asking me to do her papers fully (without her help or input). Amber, on the other hand, remained cool and didn't ask for too much help. We even had some good conversations. Her friendship meant a lot to me.

One day, the last straw imploded. Diana was really asking me too many questions, and was feeling hurt that I didn't seem receptive to her questions (I guess my body language towards her continued questions was really showing obviously that I was becoming overwhelmed by her "neediness"), so I decided to be honest with my feelings that I felt she asked me too many questions. The situation became ugly, and Amber said I deflated Diana by telling her that. I never intended to, nor would I ever intentionally, deflate Diana - she was the one who asked me what was wrong, and true friends are supposed to tell each other the truth. Diana seemed hurt by my honesty, so I assured her that it wasn't her personally; it was only me. After that night, things just unfolded out of control, and Amber kept saying that I really deflated Diana; that the way I said those things came across as unexpected and out of the blue, and that Diana was sensitive because other people deflated her in the past, and that Diana was finally feeling comfortable with coming to me with questions about her weakness (read: school). Well, I understand that, but I can't be Diana's savior. I do have my own life, too. Sorry if that sounds defensive, but that's the truth, and I can't bear a friend asking me school questions everyday.

We didn't talk much for the next week, until Diana made a Facebook post saying that a friend deflated her "BIG time by saying I ask too many questions" - kind of twisting things to make it sound like I was the bad guy. Her friends jumped in to support her. I posted a comment explaining that I was the person behind it, that I never meant to deflate her, and even offered a genuine apology. Diana deleted my post, inboxed me and said that I definitely did something wrong, and that she never wanted to talk to me again. I felt very taken aback. Amber did nothing to diffuse the situation. I asked a neutral friend to become a 'moderator' and try to solve things between Diana and I, but Diana told me (in the group text) to leave her alone and that she wanted nothing to do with me. Just like a snap, it was over. One day, we were actually becoming close (she was reserved and cold, is like that to everyone, so she was opening up to me), then the next... I don't even exist anymore. Reality hurts like a bas**rd.

However, Amber seemed to at least be kind of neutral, claiming it was between me and Diana, and saying she was neutral. (Then why did she say I deflated Diana, and made me feel so guilty in the first place? Whatever.) Amber's graduation dinner came up, and I went, because I was invited (ironically, by Diana), and wanted to show I would be the better guy by supporting Amber (who I was closer to, anyway). I bought Amber a card and wrote her a congratulatory letter, while adding a "sorry for everything" - hopefully to smooth things over. Amber seemed happy about the card, and squeezed my hands, and hugged me. She did claim she seemed surprised to see me there, but that's understandable, because of the whole situation. During the dinner, Diana and I did not speak a word to each other.

After graduation dinner, I felt better and like there was hope with Amber. However, I texted Amber a few times and... nothing. Amber updated her Facebook, I knew she got my texts because they were iMessages marked as read, and still nothing at all. It's been three weeks. I don't know if this is short enough or long enough, but it's really, really hurting me at the core. I feel like I have failed as a friend, and Amber's friendship meant SO MUCH to me. You have no idea, now I feel I have lost her because she refuses to answer any of my texts or even text me on her own to see how I'm doing. I know she's not busy - I see pictures of her with her pets/friends in DC, and she's acting like I no longer exist. She got a 4.0 and I am NOT taking any credit or brag, but it's thanks to a lot of my help, and now I feel like mud has been rubbed across my face. I did nothing wrong other than trying to be honest, and I got screwed for it.

Now... here I am. I have no social life. I don't have any friends to go out with lately. It's really became unbearable, the loneliness. It's also a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the more lonelier I get, the more needier I get, which probably drives people away. I don't know what to do. I don't see the point of living anymore. I feel unattractive. I'm 26, never even been kissed. I feel like people look at me and don't even like what they see, or just kind of forget about me. I feel left out sometimes in my hearing family. I'm in the middle of both worlds (hearing and Deaf), and I really can't cope with this loneliness anymore. I'm thinking about moving back to California, but it's expensive - will my job transfer me? Who are my friends in California? Why am I even here on Earth if it seems I can't do anything right or keep friends?

Bottom line... I'm just in a really bad emotional place. Therapy, therapy, I know, I know. I can't afford it right now, but once I do, I will. Any short-term goals or advice how to cope would be great. Also, what the hell should I do about Amber? Why is she ignoring me? Did I fail as a friend? I did so much for her, seriously. Yes, I may have made some mistakes, but nobody's perfect.

That's why I suck at this game of life. I have been feeling this sense of pointlessness. Not suicide, but just pointlessness. Everyday in and out, working, go eat at a restaurant alone, go home. Rinse and repeat. It just sucks.

Thanks for listening, I guess.
posted by dubious_dude to Human Relations (23 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
How do I cope with my seemingly pointless existence in life?

Life is what you make of it, including this crap when it happens, and it happens to everyone. The best thing to do is go - okay, that was weird - and move on.

During the dinner, Diana and I did not speak a word to each other.

Pure, wild speculation here - as Diana and Amber were friends with each other before they were friends with you, Amber has decided to remain friends solely with Diana and not with you after the dinner. That's what happens - they were friends before you, so you kind of get dropped if any problem arises that has the potential to affect that existing relationship.

So what do you do? You get some hobbies, you find some groups, you do whatever you can do that will put you around other people. You'll meet new people, you'll have new experiences - you'll be fine.
posted by mleigh at 11:47 PM on June 2, 2012

I seem to recall you making some video with index cards about your deafness a long time ago that struck me as sympathetic and thoughtful. I hope that's right, and even if not, it's an example of the kind of thing people do to make positive little marks on the world--the kind of project / self-expression you might aim at to help yourself and others understand things better. You really must walk away from the Amber/Diana situation--Diana has asked for it, and you have to respect that. Probably this isn't the last time someone will see you as the villain in something minor, and the lesson learned should be that if an apology doesn't fix it then move on. What matters in life aren't these momentary communication breakdowns but that you keep discovering what matters in life. You have the right question, but there are so many good answers that no one can pick one for you.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:23 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm going to suggest something you may have seen from other similar threads - volunteering. From reading your previous questions, it seems as if you're a tad self-absorbed and perhaps have a tendency to over-analyse and over-dramatise things. Find an organisation whose ideals meet yours, and volunteer. You'll meet new people and get out of your own head, which is not telling you anything good right now.
posted by essexjan at 12:28 AM on June 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

The way that you view friendships and I'm assuming all other types of relationships is truly detrimental to your mental health. You have become very needy because you define who you are based on your relationships with others which is an emotionally unhealthy way to live.

For instance, you said "because the more lonelier I get, the more needier I get which probableydrives people away. I don't know what to do. I don't see the point of living anymore." I'm sorry, but nobody should be defining you to such an extent where you question the purpose of life because you got into an argument with them and their partner.

Living like this will result in you losing your personal identity, struggling to make and keep friendships, and having a very difficult time drawing boundaries between yourself and others.

Only Amber and Diana know why they did that. You will never truly know the answer unless you ask them, but even then, they most likely won't tell you because it's personal. You need to give both Amber and Diana space and wait for them to initiate the conversation with you. If they don't, then it's truly time to move on and take this as a learning experience.

I believe that people come into our lives to teach us something even if they don't know it. Your relationship with Diana and her partner might serve as a wakeup call that you need to be more respectful of boundaries and knowing when to give and take in a relationship with someone else. I think they overreacted and I think this all blew much out of proportion but sometimes this happens...

As for the loneliness, I can understand that it's unbearable but at this stage it will be very difficult to make friends. You need to spend time working on yourself by doing things that make you happy, getting out there, and volunteering. Once you feel more secure in who you are then branch out by attending clubs, meetups, etc... that are more centered on meeting people.

And yes, therapy all the way. There should be some psychologists in the area or counseling services that offer a sliding scale fee based on your income.
posted by livinglearning at 12:43 AM on June 3, 2012

Can you make friends with anyone at your new job?
posted by caclwmr4 at 12:46 AM on June 3, 2012

I can try making new friends, yeah, but it's hard because it's a chaotic environment - retail. Everyone's running around, selling things, stocking the back room, etc etc. We don't even have a proper break room. Strangely enough, I love it because it's the perfect place to just forget about my personal problems for a while, and interacting with customers can be really fun.

As for me being self-absorbed, I'm afraid I do disagree with that one point. I really care about other people, up to the point where sometimes I care too much. I'm trying to wean off that.

Also, Amber's friendship meant the world to me, which is why I'm having such a hard time processing this. Just wanted to clear some questions up in this thread. But, yeah, I do want to make new friends at my workplace, and I am positive I will eventually. It's just this specific time is very hard, is all.
posted by dubious_dude at 1:11 AM on June 3, 2012

(I don't mean to be overly harsh, but honesty is always best.)

I'm don't want to go into semantics or specifics about the situation you're in. You are obsessing and navel-gazing to an unhealthy extent. Stop it!

I realize that you feel somewhat removed/detached from two different worlds. You're deaf. You deal with people who are not. You feel alone. Yet the more that you feel that you're unable to maintain friendships, for whatever reason, whether you feel that the circumstances are your fault, or whether you want to blame the actions of others -- you're only going to drag yourself down further into the hole you're wallowing in. This isn't healthy for you! Period! Stop!

Ten years from now, you're not going to give a flying fuck at a rolling donut about whether Amber and Diana thought your shit stank or not, especially if you're not in contact with them then. I promise you that. It's difficult to see that now; I know that. Accepting the actions of others, no matter how much it hurts, is a cross you're going to have to bear as you get over how much you feel that you've invested into your friendship with Amber, and her success as a result of your actions and support. You are prolonging your anguish by continuing to invest too much into the situation; you need to step back and take a personal inventory of what's happening, hopefully without viewing it through the lens of being overly emotional, dramatic, and projecting other life circumstances onto what's happening here.

You mention the bit about the loneliness driving people away. That's common. Nobody wants to hear about how you're driving a stake into your own heart, repeatedly, just because that's how you've accepted dealing with things. I've been there, and brother, it ain't healthy. Do not confuse "caring for other people" and "caring for yourself when other people hurt you." One is caring, and one is utterly selfish. One is empathic and one prolongs the pain. I can't define that distinction for you personally; that's something you need to figure out for yourself, whether you discuss it with someone else, or if you sit by yourself for a long while and ruminate on who you are. Until you're comfortable with being in your own skin and having the backbone to stop controlling things that are out of your hands, you will continually drive people away. That's another promise.

We all have hard and difficult times. I'd describe mine but I'm not about to drag this discussion about your health into some selfish off-topic conversation. We all do manage to get through these trials -- and I believe that you're too wrapped up in the repercussions and ramifications of your personal situation to realize that. There is always a way through, no matter how difficult things can be. You just need to have the courage and gumption to find that path and stick to it.

Short term advice? Do anything to stop thinking about this in such a manner that is only hurting you more. Stop thinking about ways you can throw in the towel and give up. Get up tomorrow and do something that makes you smile, something that you enjoy. If not thinking about things means that you need to cut off communication with them -- that's much healthier than beating yourself up.

Stop shaking the shank and driving it deeper.

(Thank you, taz, for maintaining levity.)
posted by peeet at 1:33 AM on June 3, 2012 [9 favorites]

You've already received some excellent advice, and while I'm not deaf, I can relate on some level to the social isolation and pointlessness you are describing. Try to keep in mind that it's a temporary situation. Someone reminded me the other day that temporary can mean more than a couple of weeks and just as easily mean months or, in some instances, longer, but this is not how it will always be. It was a good thing to hear, even if it's hard to internalize it and put it into practice.

Also, I'm sorry, but eff Amber. I know she means a lot to you and her aloofness is very hurtful, but that's a shitty way to treat a friend, even if she didn't agree with how you handled the Diana situation. I know you care deeply for her and miss her, but just let it lie. Eventually, the two of you may reconnect, or maybe you won't. If you invest your time and energy into things and relationships that are truly rewarding, some, in fact most, of this will dissipate, and the status of your relationship with Amber will become an afterthought at worst or evolve into something else independent of Diana at best. (Also, sidenote: From your description Diana sounds very passive aggressive and part of me wondered if she had a crush on you, but it also sounds like she was completely taking advantage of your good nature. Never let someone make you feel bad about sticking up for yourself or refusing to be a doormat. Complete papers without her input? No, sorry, that is beyond unreasonable, not to mention unethical and a huge violation of every school's academic integrity policies).

In the meantime, you may need to engage in some forced socialization. Sign up with you region's version of Thrillist, Urban Daddy, both, or whatever. The editorial voice may not mesh with you personally but they mention new restaurants, hot spots, announce events that anyone can show up to, and it requires a bit of courage, but showing up alone at a social event can pay off big time. On the plus side, if it sucks, you can bounce easily without having to explain anything to anyone. Volunteering, taking classes (not academic but y'know wine tasting, cooking, sailing, etc) are also good ways to meet people. Perhaps, you can become a regular at a local bar or coffee shop, and eventually you will meet people. Lastly, I'm someone who frequently goes to concerts, plays, random events, art gallery openings, and even eats out alone. It's not always easy, and for some people it can be incredibly difficult. Make sure you have something to preoccupy yourself with (book, Kindle, iPad, whatever) and try to remain open to the possibility of connecting with a random person you encounter. I know there are additional challenges with your deafness (my Mom's blind, so different worlds, but some similar issues), but I suspect you are able to compensate for these barriers pretty well. Also, as I understand it the deaf community has a pretty vibrant culture, and there may be avenues to explore there. I know that my Mom wants to interact with both the blind community and the world beyond that, so she really strives to have a balance between the two, so, for example, if she has an option of a class with visually impaired people or just the general populace, she will pick the general populace more often than not because she already has plenty of community and connections with the blind and visually impaired world.

Bottom line, things will not always be this way, but if you want to see an immediate difference, you are going to need to do some work, and even though it is supposed to be fun, it may feel very much like work, especially in the beginning. Explore your city, go to events, volunteer, take classes, just force yourself to be out in the world in some capacity in between the work, home, rinse & repeat. I'm not sure how easy it is for you to communicate with non-deaf people outside of some predetermined context (i.e. an academic environment), but, at 26, I'm sure you have several strategies for those initial encounters with someone from the hearing world. So, try to remain open to contact with random strangers. You may never see the person again, but it could also be someone who will turn into a friend for life. We, no matter what our specific situations are, just don't know until we try. You sound like a good guy who anyone would be lucky to call a friend. I promise, it gets better (& remind my own self of this daily). It just requires patience, time, and a wee bit of effort. Best of luck to you!
posted by katemcd at 2:51 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I see some of my early 20s self in your post, so I'm going to give you some advice from a potential future self. And I'm going to turn this into something much simpler than "coping with my seemingly pointless existence in life." Ready?

Learning how to say "no" in a way that maintains relationship with people is an incredibly difficult but vital life skill. Saying "yes" is not the same as being a friend, or being friends with.

You needed to say "no" to Amber in your previous post. You needed to say "no" to Diana in this post. Not being able to say "no" in a simple, healthy way that actually supports the other person is what left you needing dramatic talks with Amber about things she said about you. Left you needing a dramatic dinner to "make up to you" for the school work you'd done for her. Left you at the implosion point with Diana in a way that has exploded publicly amid your entire social circle and left you twisting your hands in worry. Left you questioning your own existence.

This isn't about you being deaf, but that's a nice red herring in your life story. This isn't about you not being able to make friends in a chaotic retail environment. Also a convenient red herring. This is about you not being able to set enough boundaries that give anyone a sense of who you really are, what you stand for, and yet still leave you and the other person whole.

Again: Learning how to say "no" in a way that maintains relationship with people is an incredibly difficult but vital life skill. Saying "yes" is not the same as being a friend, or being friends with.

Ok, enough of the bad cop. Let me just say that in some areas of life I really suck at this. I didn't even realize it might be an important thing to know until I was in my 30s. And a decade later I still struggle with how to do it well. But I have watched a few masters, and believe me it is something that really causes the respect they get from people around them to jump up a level. 99% of the time it actually deepens an authentic level of relationship between them. People know they'll get a collaborative thought partner with this person even if they don't get exactly what they asked for. (Disclaimer: I've actually found parenting an amazing trial-by-fire with this skill; kids are not served by you saying "yes" to every request and yet you always want to forward the relationship with them.)

So how? Man, it seems hard. First, you've got to acclimate yourself to the fact that people are ALWAYS going to be asking you for things. Small things like "Can you grab some Mediums for me while you're out back?" to big things like "Can you tell the police I wasn't drinking?" Requests can come at you every moment of the day. Get used to it. You will need to respond, respond gracefully, respond quickly, and respond in a way that doesn't erode you or the other person. Accepting this allows you some control over that momentary shock of being asked, moves a knee-jerk "Sure!" off the list of answers, and gives you the space to entertain the question intentionally. It gives you a few seconds to consider "Can I do this? Do I want to do this? Who is served by this request as it stands, and how? Is there a responsible answer that would support us both, at least minimally?" And most importantly, a few seconds to remember that "No" is a valid answer.

Second, you've got to identify what you believe is the best end result, the life result, not the immediate result. Immediate results are deceptive and distracting. Immediate results get the kids out of your hair but into the medicine cabinet. Immediate results get Diana a better grade but a worse intellect. So life results? With Diana it might have been making sure she knew she had a supportive friend while also getting her more academic skills or formal support to handle her own work. Doing her work for her doesn't really help her in the long run. With Amber it might have been the same. For you it might have been being able to build healthy friendships while not being/feeling exploited. For someone who asks you to get some more shirts in the back it might be "Sure!" because they will have the opportunity to do the same for you sometime, or they already have, or because it's no big deal right now for you to do it. Sometimes you'll need time to think about this. Add the following phrases to your vocab and practice them: "Give me a minute," "Let me get back to you on that," "I would love to give you an answer right now but I need to figure out how to make it work," "I don't know. Let me think about it." "I'm still thinking about it. I want to give you a solid answer." Etc.

Third, you've got to notice the point at which you begin to get irritated with the request or requester. When you start to feel taken advantage of or taken for granted. Maybe it's the third or fourth time you get asked to bring some merchandise up from the stockroom from someone who's always asking others, or always asking you. You know this feeling, but you blow right by it because you think you'll get something else by ignoring it. Being the good guy? Them liking you more? Being included? Being conflict free for another moment? It's something. ID it and put a big red flag next to it. That's your own work for therapy, or journaling, or shooting the shit with a true friend.

Fourth, when you've decided some variation of "no" is the right answer, you've got to say "no." It can be an easy "no" like "Sorry, but my whole week is blocked out. I'm barely getting my own work done!" "I'd love to but I'm busy now." You beg off. The message is you'd do it if you could. You don't need to hammer home some moral judgement of the other person's request. The stakes are low, just say "no." Doing this often enough with someone who constantly asks you for stuff can be enough to divert them elsewhere for what they want if that's all they want from you.

Sometimes you need another kind of no. A no that communicates: that kind of request doesn't sit well with me, erodes me, or erodes you, and I need to give you a blanket no. That's more like, "You know, I used to do that for people and it never ended well. So I really have to say no." Or "I've decided not to do that anymore. It's something I made a decision about recently but I gave it a lot of thought and I have to say no." Often, if you do want to support them somehow or maintain a friendship, here's where you suggest, "What about going to the library quiet room together to make sure we're getting our stuff done?" or "I'd love to do something together once finals are done. Let's plan a blow out dinner for the 20th." You haven't judged or accused them of using you. You haven't had to because you've paid attention to that feeling from Step 3. And you genuinely want to build the friendship, so you genuinely offer another connection.

A third "no" is the You Need Help kind of "no." I once had a friend who asked to borrow $50,000 from another friend. It was actually a reasonable request in that friend #2 could afford it, and they were pretty good friends. But friend #1 was in the hole financially because he constantly overspent (multiple expensive vehicles, overextended on his house, etc.). Giving him another $50k would have just enabled his inability to handle his own finances. That was the life goal here, and friend #2 said, "Hey, we're good friends. You're asking because you know I can afford this, but I'm saying no because I know you can't. You can't afford to ignore your financial situation any more. It would be a disservice to you to give you $50k." That friend got more freelance work, sold one of his cars, downsized his house and made some positive choices that were instigated by both his own desire to be responsible and by friend #2 saying "I'll help, but my help doesn't look the way you want it to look." You can do this with close, long-term friends. If you do it well, both of you feel like there's been a "Yes" to something, and the friendship if maintained. This one is tough, and you don't get many chances to practice where the stakes are low.

These last two kinds of "no" are where you can stand and feel whole when the shit hits the fan or someone takes it to Facebook. You know why you said no, you know what you decided was important, you made your own call on what was best for everyone. There's no shame in that, no hand-wringing. You can honestly say "Diana's got a great mind and at some point she's going to have to manage her own time so she gets her own work done. She's a competent person and I'm sure she can do it." Hopefully you won't get to the point where you implode and then apologize and clean up after that.

Some people will avoid you because you say no them them and there aren't enough other "yeses" between you. Some will avoid you because they only needed you for that one thing anyway and now you're not delivering. Some will stick around because they know who you are, what they can depend on you for, and because there are a ton of other yeses between you. That's just life.

Oh my gosh this is long. Can you tell I think this is important and I struggle with it? (And also that I was up at 5:30am.) Yes it's about boundaries. Yes it's about relationship. Yes it's about knowing what you're really aiming for. Start now.
posted by cocoagirl at 4:38 AM on June 3, 2012 [25 favorites]

There is no simple answer to the absurdity of life, other than that we, literally, create the world in our minds. Which means we have the ability to shape and change, at the very least, our perception of the world.

Others have answered more succinctly about how to address the isolation and loneliness you describe, but forgive me if I delve a little deeper. To me, the underlying thread behind your comments about the"pointlessness of it all" and life "sucking", seem to be primarily a lack of self love. Your fear of being unattractive, your fear of your perceived lack of ability to gain or keep friendships, and your fear of being alone, all stem from this same root cause.

I don't mean this in a negative way at all, simply as an observation. My thoughts are with you in your time of sadness and loneliness; but I'm also (silently) shouting encouragement: use this pain! use this fear of rejection! For little else inspires us to make lasting, positive, internal change.

If I could suggest only one thing, in addition to the excellent advice above, take some time to sit, and to reflect on this. A book I found immeasurably helpful in really getting what all that "self love" mumbo jumbo meant was the ask mefi perennial favourite The Lost Art of Compasion.

And like all else, this too shall pass.
posted by mrme at 4:38 AM on June 3, 2012

Get out of your own head. It's dangerous in there. The suggestion upthread about volunteering is excellent. Nothing gets your mind off your self, your own problems, as efficiently as helping someone else with their problems. Don't do it for personal glory or reward, do it to help another person and to distract yourself from yourself. Related, it helps to stop thinking about what you want, and especially to stop thinking about that chasm between your wants and what you have. No good ever comes from that. Everybody has their own chasm and the more you obsess over it I can guarantee the larger it will become. Instead, focus your energy on enjoying the things you have without worrying about how much or little, how big or how small they are. Do these things and you will feel better. Get out of your own head and focus on what you have rather than what you lack. Do them even if you do not believe them. If you keep doing them you will start to feel better. Guaranteed.
posted by caddis at 4:55 AM on June 3, 2012

You really seriously need therapy and possibly medication. This kind of feeling that life is pointless? It is fixable, with professional help.

Volunteering is really helpful, too. If you're in retail and enjoy it, you might try to volunteer at a local thrift store. If social interaction is too much, you might try volunteering with animals.

However, this might not help you feel like you have a purpose if you have an underlying mental issue that you need help with.

(Losing friends is so hard! And there's no real support for it or sympathy for it like there is for losing romantic relationships. My condolences. What Diana was asking you for was wrong and exploitative, by the way, and when you said no she got mad that you couldn't exploit her and tried to punish/manipulate you. She seems like an awful person. I know that doesn't make it better when you're really lonely, but things will look up. I promise.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:29 AM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I can really, really empathize. You are in a new chapter of your life, and though it is going well with work, there is still a transition from being a student to employee. Everyone goes through it, and no one seems to talk about it. You are not alone. (And BTW, congratulations!)

Now you can do whatever you want, no more school & studying, and you are making money. So sit down, relax, and make a list of all the things you enjoy doing: cooking, gardening, making short films, hiking, taking pictures, playing with kittens, shooting hoops...and see how you can incorporate these things into your life. Many of these activities can involve groups you can join to meet other people who also enjoy it.
posted by honey badger at 6:24 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hi, dubious_dude! I went back and read all your questions, just to get the big picture, because I can feel how hurt and depressed you are coming through loud and clear here.

I think what happened was this, and maybe my interpretation can help you look at the situation from a different perspective:

You and Amber are school friends. you basically had a study group together. I make that distinction because I feel that's where Amber was coming from--she seemed to limit her interactions with you to school-related stuff. I note where, last year, you were hurt because Diana invited you to Amber's birthday celebration, but when it came time for your birthday, Amber was not there for you. That sucks, and I'm glad this year she made the effort for you, because you have helped voth girls so much with their school stuff. But, again, that's your connection with them, through school stuff.

Diana is Amber's partner. Their whole lives are intertwined. Rightly or wrongly, people choose sides. Amber seemed to be trying to stay out of this in the beginning, but when Diana went (IMO) overboard after what you said to her and cut you out of her life, I'm sure Amber was put in a really uncomfortable place. Try to imagine how she must have felt, caught between two people she cares about. She tried to mediate, by letting you know why Diane was so hurt, because she's been "deflated" before. Incidentally, it sounds like Diana feels you attacked her personally--are you sure all you said is she asked a lot of questions and it was getting too much for you? You didn't throw any terms in there like, "needy" "dependent", etc., did you? Because those are much more emotionally charged.

Anyway, Diane probably over-reacted to what you said. In the end, though, it seems like it came down to a choice for Amber, and she chose her partner, Diane.

I know this hurts you. But it doesn't reflect badly on you at all--you apologized, and Diana refused to accept it, right? Nothing more you can do, then, but move on.

So here's my Three Point Plan for you on how to do that, and I want you to seriously consider all three parts.

First, you should start a personal blog. Seriously, you write well, you have had issues with people deleting your input on their Facebook or whatever and not responding to you on your Facebook profile. It seems clear that you are much more active online than your friends, anyway. I recommend you try Blogger, which is quite easy to set up and use.

A personal blog, where you can just go and journal several times a week, would be cathartic for you. Your opinions, and struggles and even your 'side' on disputes would be recorded for posterity. Personally, I would not open the blog up for comments until you've been writing it for at least a minth, probably three months would be better. I know that will be hard, but that gives you time to grow confident with your writing, and also get a little distance from the emotional stuff you are going through now (which you can write out, every detail, on your blog, starting ASAP) before you start getting feedback from anyone. You need that emotional distancd.

Then--and this is important!--make a deal with yourself that once you have written about an issue that's been consuming you on your blog, you must LET. IT. GO. Let it all out, and then wipe the slate clean instead of dwelling.

And last, volunteer. Volunteering is a great idea! I know you have social anxiety, and thismwill help you own that, work on it and come out a stronger, healthier person. Have you thought about looking into volunteer programs for deaf kids? Especially those who might be struggling with their own sexuality--I think you could really make a difference in a young person's life! And helping them will help take you out of yourself a little. When people say you are self-focused, they don't mean you are selfish, more that you need to get out of your own head, okay? Consider how your actions are affecting other people in the world, rather than how you are being affected by them. That's all.

Sorry this is so long.

Good luck! Feel better. And feel free to Mefi Mail me if you need any help with the blogging stuff.
posted by misha at 6:40 AM on June 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

Generally speaking, it's impossible to maintain a friendship with one half of a couple while fighting with the other half. It's important for their relationship that Amber not be friends with you while Diane is mad at you. If Amber came in here asking for advice, we'd all tell her the same thing. So it might help to think of them as a packaged deal - once you became friends with both of them, you could only be friends with both of them. So you didn't fail as a friend to Amber, and you didn't do anything wrong to Amber - she had to stop being friends with you because that's the best thing for her relationship.

Now, on to Diane. I'm not sure anything you could have done would have made that go any better. In general, I'd advise you to bring problems up as soon as they become problems, not to let them fester for a long time and then suddenly explode. Because now she's stung to hear that she asks too many questions, but also embarrassed to think that she's been doing that for a while. But still, it sounds like maybe she thinks that friends shouldn't have any boundaries regarding helping each other, especially if she's asking you to write her papers for her. To me, that's a sign that her brand of friendship is pretty toxic. I'd say you're better off without her, even if that means that you also don't get to be friends with Amber.

So, clean slate time! The two of them are wrapped up in a lot of drama for you, so go ahead and find some people who have nothing to do with them. Work is a good place to start. It makes sense that people are too busy around the store to become friends, but nothing is to stop you from proposing that people hang out after work.

Finally, having read this question and some of your previous ones, I'd suggest that you really dial back your use of facebook. It sounds like you do a lot of thinking about and processing of your social interactions. Facebook is poison for people like that.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:06 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Re-reading your most recent previous question, I surmise that you feel constrained in your choice of friendships and are thus inclined to over-invest in the ones you do have, and allow yourself to be walked over and used because you feel these are the only friends you have, and you can't easily make more, better friends.

Is this really, objectively true? Are there really that few people that you could be friends with that you must put up with users and flakes? I think that one of the things you need to do is to get over that scarcity mentality. It is that scarcity mentality that keeps you twisting yourself into a pretzel trying to keep unsatisfactory friendships, because all your eggs are in that basket.

My advice, for what it's worth, is to branch out as much as you can and try to socialize with a wide variety of people. Not all of them will become close friends - you can't expect to turn everyone you meet into a confidant or close pal - but the more people you meet and socialize with, the more potential friends you have. And knowing you have a big pool of possibilities gets you out of that scarcity mentality which keeps you desperate, needy, and overly eager to please. Right now you probably feel like Amber and Diana were all you had, and shabbily as they treated you, at least they were there. You need to get out of that space.

If you sincerely can't afford therapy, can you go to an online support group, or an online group especially for Deaf people? Is there maybe a Deaf Al-Anon or other twelve-step group near you? Are there Deaf meetups near you? I really think that you should get into therapy as soon as you possibly can - depression is serious business.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:48 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

You didn't lose two friends. You've been liberated from a couple of users. When you were no longer willing to be taken advantage of they dumped you. Good for you! Leave it alone, explore strategies for making new actual friends.
posted by txmon at 8:52 AM on June 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm going to echo what many people have said here:

Actual friends won't put you through this crap. Heck, most of my casual acquaintances and coworkers wouldn't stoop to that level.

You have options, so don't dump all your eggs in the same basket. Take a chance on random people, perhaps at a gym or a library, etc. You really never know.

Additionally, life is only as meaningless as you think it is. It may not be productive to advance the thought that it's all in your head, but it's still true. If your problem is that you keep thinking life is meaningless, go start experiencing different things until you figure out that it's not.

Go skydiving. Go hiking. Explore abandoned buildings. Read the great works of literature. Learn to cook like a master chef. Learn to paint. Take up needlepoint. Swordfighting. Garden. Become a film critic. Start a website.

You have so many options to keep exploring, and those are just a group of random ones that occurred to me within 10 seconds. If you take a list of 100 different hobbies and experiences, and commit yourself to really trying them all, I guarantee you won't come out the other end of it thinking life is meaningless. And you might even pick up friends along the way.
posted by Strudel at 10:25 AM on June 3, 2012

Wow. Thanks for all the insights, guys.

I have made a major decision, although I'm not 100% cementing it. It's a very difficult one, but I think that I'm going to just end my friendship with Amber. It was already ended with Diana a long time ago (on the day she refused to give me another chance through text). All the painful things said by both of them really is too much for me to bear, and for me to begin healing, I have to accept and come to terms with what happened. Any advice on how to proceed with that, without feeling too sad? The memories were awesome, and the feeling I did so much for them and getting this in return are two factors holding me back.

As for therapy, I'll check out the options in my area. There's another thing behind it, I don't know why but I'm resisting therapy for some reason. I guess I'm kind of afraid to face it, but it's something I have to do as part of my want to heal.

Hobbies are also a good idea. I don't really know where to start in the DC area, but that's something I should check out.
posted by dubious_dude at 10:46 AM on June 3, 2012

Also (sorry for the threadsit), but I just wanted to add that I'm sorry if I scared any of you with the "suicidal" tone of my original post. Like I stated on top of the thread, I have no plans to kill myself, nor am I suicidal. It was more of an abstract feeling, but I can see why some would be alarmed. Apologies to all for that.
posted by dubious_dude at 10:48 AM on June 3, 2012

I feel like sometimes the answers have been hard on you, without meaning to be. You've had few friends and those you have had, seem to make a hell of a lot of exploitative requests of you. You were told to stand up to people and draw boundaries, and when you did, you got publicly shamed and your social circle was turned against you.


I do think you volunteered to be exploited somewhat, but considering your age, and the fact that your friends seem to be users, exploiters and bullies exercising their power as big fish in a small pond, you haven't had a lot of experience of good outcomes when you assert yourself. As others have noted, this is hard and a very difficult life lesson.

As for Amber and Diana, good riddance to bad rubbish. I commend your decision to cut Amber off and I strongly recommend that you don't do it explicitly - anything you say is just going to get used against you. Just fade. Stop returning her calls and emails. If she invites you to something, politely say you can't make it.

I think you'd benefit from reading a book called "The Nice Factor Book" by Robin
Chandler and Jo Ellen Grzyb. It's all about various tricks and strategies for asserting yourself and what we think will go wrong if we do. I really strongly recommend that you get that book right away, right now, don't wait.

As for making more friends, that's just gonna take time. Circulate, go to meetups, that kind of thing. Please commit to one social action per week at the very minimum.

Don't try to make friends at work. That's exactly the kind of enmeshment that can cause you to lose everything if a conflict arises, and you definitely don't want that kind of power imbalance to land you right back where you started. Do not talk about anything personal at work, at most talk about the weather, and keep everything else to yourself. Capisce?

Finally, your life is not "meaningless" because you fell out with a friend, although the punishment of campaigning to get you rejected by everyone was incredibly harsh, much more so than I think is getting acknowledged here. No wonder you're hurt, because the one thing you're held responsible for doing, you're forbidden to do, on pain of losing everything. That's the kind of no-win situation that does make life feel meaningless. But it's not, you just make some new friends. You probably won't be on top of the world two weeks from now, but if you do the right things your life will be measurably better two years from now.
posted by tel3path at 11:11 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

As tel3path said, an end-of-friendship text to Amber will just feed the drama. Seconding fading from their lives and thereby enhancing your own.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:39 PM on June 3, 2012

I agree. I'm just going to fade slowly, as in not deleting her from Facebook, and not texting her at all. I'll basically just leave her be for the time being, kind of like she was on vacation and without her phone/laptop, and see if she initiates any conversation. If she does, okay. If not, then oh well. I have my answer, then.

To answer a question upthread that I forgot to answer earlier, the "imploding" was actually me telling Diana that I honestly enjoyed her company and wanted to help see her succeed, but that I felt overwhelmed with all her questions and that it was beginning to feel too much. I didn't call her needy or other emotionally charging words. I tried my very best to be diplomatic.
posted by dubious_dude at 5:49 PM on June 3, 2012

« Older Greek economic problems affect interest rates?   |   How to find a good tour company for a middle... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.