Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving ... Alone

I’m starting to wonder if there’s something seriously wrong with me.  I keep getting lonelier and more depressed, even as I reach out more.

Okay, here’s the basic problem.  I’m not sharing my life with anyone.  I don’t have a wife or girlfriend or best friend that I connect with on a meaningful level.  I’m not close to my family.  I have plenty of friends, some of whom I can have good conversations with, but it’s just not enough.  And God, as usual, seems far away.  That’s all adding up to making life feel kind of pointless.

What am I doing about this?  I have a men’s group that meets at my apartment every week.  I have a new church where I’m meeting lots of new people.  I’ve reached out and started to spend time with some new people one-on-one.  I’m spending more time with my mother.  I’ve thrown get-togethers at my place.  I’ve prayed.

But some of these things are depressing me more.  Two nights ago I had folks over for poker, and afterwards I cried because I didn’t feel like I’d connected with anyone.  Spending time with groups of people can be either fun or awkward, depending on the people, but afterwards I feel drained and more depressed.

Which brings me to Thanksgiving.  I had a couple of invitations, but I hate the idea of being tacked on to someone else’s family.  So after a lot of internal debate, I decided to stay home.  I knew that staying home alone on Thanksgiving would be depressing, as I am acutely aware that everyone else is gathered together and feeling the warmth of family and friends.  But I did the math, and I’m pretty sure that if I’d gone to someone else’s gathering, I would feel even more like someone on the outside looking in, and that afterwards I would end up curled into a ball, worse than if I had simply compartmentalized my sadness and toughed out the day on my own.

Last night a frightening thought occurred to me: what if this is it?  What if this is all I have to look forward to?  Because I am trying.  But either nobody shows up for my movie night, or people do show up, and then I feel worse afterwards.  And while I’m enjoying the new friendships I’ve struck up … I’m starting to wonder if I’ve lost the ability to connect in a meaningful way.

In Junior High, my best friend one day told me he didn’t want to be friends anymore.  Just dumped me for no reason that he would state or that I could figure out.  In High School, one of my closest friends stopped talking to me because she was ashamed of some decisions of her own.  And in the past few years, three of my closest friends have abandoned me, not even returning my calls or emails, with no explanation.

I think it’s broken me.  I think maybe, as open as I try to be, it’s left me unable to trust or truly feel the warmth of friendship.  I haven’t cried with someone in a very long time, because that’s an intimacy that I can’t trust anyone to live up to.

So I’m spiraling deeper into depression.  And I don’t know how to fix it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Don't Love Others More Than Myself

I don't think I've ever loved anyone more than I love myself.  Or even as much.

Not that I'm particularly thrilled with myself.  But I think you can't help but love yourself to some degree, in that you feed and clothe yourself and you treat yourself and tell yourself things that help you feel better about yourself.

But I think there is an experience which is both terribly human and also transcendent.  Which is learning to love someone else more than yourself.  I think it most often happens when you have kids, but also when you find a husband or wife (I'm sure it doesn't always happen, but it ought to).  For some, it's God.  For some it might be cats or something else, but that's a discussion for another time.

Something happens, over a short time or a long time, where a person's focus shifts off of themselves and someone else becomes more important.  My friend John will go home at the end of a long, tiring day.  And he will do the dishes.  Why?  Because while he doesn't like doing dishes, he knows that's how his wife will feel loved.  That's just a small example, but it happens over and over, day after day.  We all know there are much larger examples of parents who will go without food so their kids can eat and stuff like that.

And I think that's part of what sands the rough edges off of people.  They lose a lot of their pride and humble themselves by choosing to put someone else first.

I don't do that.  I mean, I do it here and there.  But there's nobody that I love enough to set aside my own wants and needs on a regular basis.  Which is a shame.  I think that's a big part of why I still have so many rough edges - I may be getting even rougher as I get older and spend days at a time with only myself.  Plus, I honestly think that's an amazing transformation that is worth the pain and annoyance that it takes to get there.

But you generally can't make yourself care about someone or something any more than you do.  You either care or you don't.  And I don't.  Which is not to say that I don't care at all.  I mean, I care some.  Sometimes a lot.  But never to that level where your focus starts to shift, where you make room for another ego next to yours.

And, obviously, this has repercussions for my relationship with God.  I think the best way to learn to love God is to practice with other people.

Plus, I've always believed that life is about people and relationships.  And this truth is at the heart of relationships.  So without it, my life seems a little pointless.

My Meiers-Brigg temperament is INTJ.  My type is called the Engineer and we tend to like picking things apart and seeing how they work and trying different combinations of things.  For some reason, this inclination of mine has always been on people, rather than on something like science or engineering - something where I could use this talent to make a living ...  Anyway, I've spent a good chunk of my life, when I'm not daydreaming about time travel, analyzing people.  Trying to figure out what makes them tick.  Figuring out motivations and emotions and tendencies and temperaments.  And I think that's why, even though I'm an introvert, I've always had a decent number of friends.  I want to spend time with people and make sense of them.

But this does often leave me on the outside, processing, looking in.

I wish I had an epiphany to end this one with.  I wish I knew how to engage more, care more.  I wish I could  sand off these rough edges.  But it eludes me.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

How To Be On-Time

How To Be On-Time

Okay, let's say you've got an appointment/meeting/date that starts at 11:00.  First, you don't want to get there right as it's starting, so figure 5 minutes before that.  Next, estimate how long it will take to get there.  20 minutes?  OK - but wait, you wanted to stop at home and change, right?  OK, so 10 minutes to your place, 5 minutes to run in and change, then 15 minutes to the meeting.  That's 10+5+15 plus 5 minutes early, so 35 minutes.  One more thing.  Throw in a buffer 5 minutes, in case of traffic or spilling something on your shirt.  So 40 minutes.

There you have it.  A couple of quick mental calculations, and you now know you should leave at 10:20 to get there by 11:00.

How Not To Be On-Time

You've got a meeting that starts at 11:00.  Glance at the clock at 11:05 and say, "Gee, I guess I should think about leaving pretty soon.