Friday, October 19, 2007

Weekend: Alone

I want to thank all of you for your very kind comments about AG. There are so many things I could say about that, how it came to be, how it continues to be a risk.

In short (yes, short), my eccentricity is both my salvation and my damnation. It would be impossible for me to become the mainstream person that would be required to have the kind of social network that would leave me invulnerable to the AGs of the world. I live a very odd life. I am unmarried, eccentric, disconnected from family and people like me fall through the cracks all the time. Often, we are the ones who are found dead in an apartment or house, having been dead for days because building a network of people is so difficult.. when we are so different.
To a large degree, I have accepted that my life will be this way until I finally get to Thailand where I do have an existing social network.

There are times.. not all the time, not every day... that I just get lonely for human contact. I want to hear the phone ring. I want to be invited somewhere, even if I can't go. I want to be included in the lives of other people. I want to feel alive and connected.

That's the cold, hard truth of the matter.

AG came into my life through a yahoogroup. We began corresponding offlist and soon we were talking on the phone. It became a weekly event and I think we both looked forward to it. I let my guard down and that is when the trouble began. AG began withholding attention to get her own way... or perhaps even just to feel like she had some power over me. I was vulnerable enough that it began feeling icky and abusive. She did many things that are not worth discussing in detail here but I came to realize that I had connected up with an abuser. The red flags were all there.

I chose to ignore them. To a degree, I created my own pain.

At the same time, something else occurs to me.

I have some choices. I have options. Granted, I am a hermit and rarely like to go out. I don't do very well in public and I am so socially phobic that it is disabling. To a degree.

I am not in a wheelchair. I am not paralyzed. I am not physically or mentally unable to get out. Any degree of agoraphobia I live with is certainly manageable. In other words, I do have some choices, even with my limitations.

What about those who don't have choices? What about those who have to put up with the AGs of the world because there is no one else to call on?

That is just plain wrong! Social needs are just as real as physical needs. We need to feel as though there are people who care. We all need to have the phone ring occasionally, just a human voice on the other end to say "how are you doing?"

Lack of that causes all kinds of problems that I don't need to document here.

I am a firm believer that all life lessons give us an opportunity to create something good out of the bad.

In light of that, I have started a group that is entirely designed to create a phone tree for disabled people, for shut-ins, for people who are far too vulnerable to predators who will take advantage of them. Really, all it will do is create a social network via phone for people who can't get out.

Until this happened, I actually thought I was the only one. And I thought I must just be such a detestable person that no one wanted to be around me, to include me, to be a part of my life or allow me to be a part of theirs. Part of me finally shut down and I gave up. (Until I went to Thailand where it was all so seamless that I truly began to enjoy my friends and social network.)

I put this out here because I'm sure some of you know someone. A neighbor. A co-worker. I am stepping out of the shame long enough (because there is shame attached to being alone) to encourage anyone reading here to take that into account, especially with people who don't have the options I do.

A civilized, kind society should never leave anyone so desperately alone that an AG can come into their lives and the person has no choice but to accept it. I am very thankful for my ability to choose to put this out of my life.

Last year, I presented a challenge to everyone reading here to invite someone into their lives, to include someone who may not be included elsewhere, for the holidays. This is an extension of that... or perhaps a reiteration.

One of the things I know is that I am valued here. Your comments and encouragement prove that to me every day. Yet I am in the situation in my physical life. I am a nice person. So are many, many others.

We may not be able to stop all the ills of the world. We might not be able to stop the Iraq war. We may not be able to end homelessness in the near future. This, we can do. Each of us. Every one of us has the power to change this... for someone.

Think about it.


jen said...

i remember that challenge last year (made me a bit teary to realize how long we've been reading each other's writing) and i have already done it this year, for a new young mom who's struggling.

Liz said...

I absolutely agree with your challenge. We just have to open our hearts to each other and so much in our lives and the lives of others can totally change.

What a mental, emotional and spiritual test for you to go through with AG.

Blog Antagonist said...

You remind me very much of my youngest sister. I worry about her so much. She has always had difficulty making friends and she finds it difficult to step outside herself. I think my youngest son has the same tendencies as well.

It's a good challenge. It's especially difficult here, where everyone is so isolated by subdivided living.

I'm sorry about your experience with AG. I don't know why people like that even exist.

Anonymous said...

In your grief you are still thinking of others. You ARE kind. I'm sorry that this person took advantage of you. And yes they did. They knew your limitations and still used it against you. I invite people into my life all the time. I'm just terrible at keeping them.

Janet said...

Thanks for writing this. My grandmother was very lonely towards the end of her life. All alone and in ill health in a country across the ocean from her only son and his family. Sometimes the only human contact she had all week was us calling her on a Sunday. She's gone now, but I wish I had reached out to her more often, written more letters and made more phone calls.

slouching mom said...

Wonderful idea, wonderful you.

Anonymous said...

Yup, I remember that. Thanks for reminding me (and all of us) that we are powerful in ways we may not always think of.

crazymumma said...

Out of your discomfort and hurt with AG something beautiful grows.

You are remarkable Chani.

meno said...

Excellent way to turn this experience into something positive. I admire that, and you.

I will look for opportunities to reach out.

Mary said...

You are a kind person, Chani. If you can find peace within, you have everything.

I value you and the way you help me contemplate life.

I think you'd be a loyal friend to someone, other than yourself :o)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Chani, please come over to my place when you get a chance.

Thank you!

flutter said...

making lemonade out of lemons, I see....

Julie Pippert said...

What an excellent idea! I love that group you started, wonderful!

My neighborhood pays attention to people, unless they make it clear they don't *want* that attention.

But you are so, so is a real need, the social connection.

Using My Words

Snoskred said...

You know what might be perfect - volunteering for meals on wheels. I don't know if ya'all have that over there but we have it here - cooking and then taking meals to disabled and elderly people.

I'm going to a thing next week, it's a weekly coffee morning thing, to meet people down here. I have already been to one local meeting and made a few friends. The community centre isn't very far away and they have tai chi there which I'm also thinking about doing.

I'm more shut in than anyone would realise - there are weeks where our weekly dinner on a Saturday is the only time I have been out of the house other than grocery shopping - but I like it here, and I like my own company.

I don't know how fast your internet connection is but if it's reasonably fast? Get skype and use that for your group - it's free to talk to other people who have it. All you need is a headset but there are also ways to use it with a phone. Sephy and I chat all the time with it, he's in the US, I'm in Australia. Skype could make your group truly global without being very expensive - in fact being free to call others. You can also have conference calls via skype, for free - up to 5 people on one call.

I might do a post on Skype - maybe we'll make it the next Tuesday Think Tank topic.


PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks for the prod, Chani. I plan to contact the shut-in I know and invite him out of his dark corner to spend some time together. The last time I did, we had a good few laughs together, and I think it had been a long time since he laughed. He's a wonderful man, but suffers from what's glibly called bi-polarity, and he has been down in the darkness for months on end. My next email is to him, followed up by a phone call if he doesn't respond. And you remind me to invite, not to insist; and to meet out of generosity of heart, not need. Thank you again. And blessings...

niobe said...

This is such a wonderful idea. Thank you for reminding me that I should be making more of an effort to include others in my life, especially when so many of my instincts run in precisely the opposite direction.

Aliki2006 said...

Beautiful sentiment...when I read this I thought about my mother, who has battled with undiagnosed depression (she refuses to admit it) and is often lonely. I wish she could take the steps, extend herself, find some joy.

Anonymous said...

Would you mind sharing with us just how much money you still need in order to move to Thailand? Is that why you're still living in the U.S.?
Tessa B.

thailandchani said...

Jen, thanks. I was fairly certain you would get this one. :)


Liz, it's really rather simple.. at least in my thinking. It's just a matter of keeping an open mind and getting out of doing the usual.


BA, I think a lot of it has to do with environment and expectations. In other words, it's cultural. That's the only explanation that makes sense to me.. since I've not had the issue in other places.


Reflecting, I sometimes have the same issue. I'm not good at the "maintenance" part.


Janet, I can see your point. That is why I am so in favor of multi-generational living rather than the more isolated style here.


SM, :) Thanks.


De, yes.. we can all make a difference somehow. And it's usually not even particularly difficult. It's just mindfulness.


CM, thanks.. but not remarkable. I just want to see a different kind of social system, I guess.


Meno, thanks. :) As I recall, you did it last year, too!


Mary, yes.. I do try to be loyal. Loyalty matters a lot to me. And I believe we can all be friends to each other.. and that's what we're here for. The produce and consume cycle isn't really why we exist! :)


Susan, thanks. :)


Flutter... trying. What would be the point otherwise?


Julie, there needs to be more neighborhoods like yours. If the cultural ethic is going to be that everyone should live in separate little boxes, isolated from other people.. then the least thing we can do is try to bring everyone together on the front lawn.


Snos, I am like you in many ways. Most of the time, I am just fine here with my house mates. There's always a ton of things to do and read and nurture and learn. I don't get lonely often.. but it's always good to have resources when that occurs ~ and not everyone has a built-in family unit.

I would like to learn about Skype.


Peter, that would be great! I hope he responded to your email. :)

And, yes, it is definitely from generosity of heart.


Niobe, I'm kind of a loner by nature so I understand completely when instincts run the other way. It's a challenge.. but an important one for all of us. :)


Aliki, I hope she does, too.. and I hope some take a step toward her. Someone who is depressed doesn't usually have the internal resources to go out into the social network of this given culture, since it is generally rather difficult to have to feel like one is competing when it's hard enough to get across the room. This is a case where I hope others will come to her.


Tessa, yes, I would mind sharing that. I don't discuss my finances here. :)




Susanne said...

This is a splendid idea. You are right, often when we feel lonely and isolated we think we're the only one out there. My husband say, "There are no musicians like me!" And I say, "You don't know because you won't meet them if they sit around and play at home alone all time like you do."

This is why I love this blogger community. Community and like-minded souls for people who don't get out of the house much. ;)

I hope there will be something coming out of this idea.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear that, Chani. I have a friend who would give you the money. Tessa B.

thailandchani said...

Tessa B., it's a nice thought but just a bit on the unbelievable side. I can not begin to imagine why someone who doesn't even know me would have any interest in giving me that amount of money.

painted maypole said...

what a great challenge... i will keep my eyes and heart open to see who in my life needs an invitation

thailandchani said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine said...

"Every one of us has the power to change. . ."

yes we do.

Angela said...

Chani ~ I am grateful that you were able to experience Thailand so that you can hold that sense of belonging in your heart. Until you are able to be there permanently, your social needs ARE real -- all of ours are. I know how awful I feel when I'm home alone for any extended period of time hermiting. And I know how hard it is to get out. Is there a Thai group you could join? Some way of connecting that puts you in contact with those who are like-minded and will be good and healthy for you? I will think good thoughts for just such a group for you. Many blessings, Chani. You help me remember that we are the only ones who have the power to make our lives more of what we would like them to be.