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#1262 - 08/20/02 03:58 AM Still feeling "out there"
Starman Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/11/02
Posts: 11
Loc: Tennessee
Well, I've been reading a lot and throwing in my two cents occasionally (which, adjusted for inflation is really worth about one tenth of a cent). I just realized, I'm still feeling like I'm on the outside looking in, like I don't BELONG. I realize this is a problem I have fought for years. I've always been a leader, always been heading up some project, class, group, or whatever. I've served as president of a 300-member organization. NEVER did I feel like one of the guys. I guess leading stuff has kept me from having to feel like I really am part of the group. I've always felt that when I walked into a room full of men, that everyone could somehow look at me and see that I was flawed, that I wasn't a REAL man. I suppose leading things gave me a feeling that maybe I was worth something. I don't know. I just realized as I was posting some replies, that I WAS DOING IT AGAIN!!!! I was playing Mr. Therapist so I wouldn't have to be "one of the guys". Mainly because I CAN'T EVER be "one of the guys". I want to feel that so badly. I want to walk into a room and NOT avoid the men. WOMEN adore me, but I avoid groups of men because I feel so frightened that they can sense that I am somehow "flawed" or "different". Incidentally, this has nothing to do with gay or straight. I feel the same way whether the group is gay guys or straight guys, or a combination of both. Any feedback on this would be appreciated. I know I'm not alone in this, but I want desperately to get better with it. Thanks guys.

#1263 - 08/20/02 09:14 AM Re: Still feeling "out there"
Roy Offline

Registered: 08/02/02
Posts: 184
Loc: Los Angeles
Hi Starman,
I have been having some trouble with my computer the last two days so was not able to reply to your private message. I will do so ASAP.

Regarding the feeling of not belonging, as brian-z indicated, that seems to be universal among survivors. I have been reading "Healing the Shame that Binds You" by John Bradshaw and he makes a strong case for this being cause by deep seated shame at the core of our identity. Core beliefs. I have to say it made sense to me, but you should read it yourself. There is no way I could do justice to his explanation.

Another thing I wanted to say is that I think you have been avoiding your real feelings by being the leader, facilitator, teacher, caregiver, etc. I have done a lot of this myself. I would much rather help heal someone else than heal myself. I think it is time for you to become the patient. I know you have had a lot of negative experiences with people you trusted, people who were therapists and others who treated you very badly. That is so unfortunate because now it will be yet another barrier to overcome in getting the help you need. Due to our victimization (and internalized shame) we all have problems with self-protection through establishing healthy boundaries. This may have played a role in some of these betrayals by therapists, etc. I think we all have trouble with trust and with seeing danger signs that non-victims might see. I suggest you find a structured program somewhere so that you can safely allow yourself to be cared for.

I have struggled with many of the same issues as yourself. I have been the leader, counselor, teacher, caregiver that everyone looked up to and admired. Yet I always felt separate, like I did not belong, could never belong. Almost a year ago I decided to get help for myself and stop helping others until I had learned better self-care and boundary setting, among other things. I finally admitted to myself that I could not be my own therapist, no matter how much I know about psychology, psychotherapy, etc. I lack the necessary distant perspective. I got help through my healthcare provider, Kaiser Permanente, and I was able to trust them because they are a large structured organization with experience. Their counselors and therapists are accountable, not only to the Board of Behavioral Health, but to their employer. In other words, I had to put my faith somewhere and I chose to put it in the larger organization rather than the individual therapist. I figured how could I go wrong? I haven't exactly been doing that great of a job running things myself.

Before I started the program I was extremely anxious and fearful. I came up with all sorts of reasons why I couldn't, shouldn't, wouldn't, whatever, fill in the blank. A friend of mind finally said to me: "Well, how's that workin' for 'ya?". That stopped me and all of my protestations dead in their tracks. My way wasn't working all that well for me. Becoming the patient and allowing others to care for, nurture, and love me was the best thing I ever did for myself. Think about it. What have you got to lose?


#1264 - 08/20/02 09:39 AM Re: Still feeling "out there"
Don-NY Offline

Registered: 08/06/02
Posts: 546
Loc: Long Island, NY
Good topic. For me it raises several questions.

What does it mean To belong. Once that is defined, then what is missing that keeps me apart?
Is it some knowledge or just experience maybe? Can I get the knowledge? Maybe from a book. Maybe I just have to JOIN whatever group to get the knowledge AND the experience. I don't think just wanting to belong is enough.

Who isn't an outsider at some time, in some way? I sure am, or was (when I believed it) in so many ways, beyond the ones that bring me to this place. Let me list the ways: I was a "brain" all through school [NERD]; I sucked at sports [WUSS]; I'm half Italian and half Jewish, leaving me an alien in both cultures and two religions [HOPELESS AND DAMNED]; Never married, no children, don't date [FREAK].

There are more, but why go on? Everyone has something they just KNOW makes them different or horrible. Sometimes it's an advantage to be an outsider. It can give you insights and a perspective that the "Insiders" can't even imagine.

For me, being an outsider is at least 90% perception. Sort of like this:
I think, therefore I am.
I overthink, therefore I never will be.

That's how I see it anyway.

Being one of the guys This question or idea needs to be refined and defined before it can be tackled.

What does it mean? Is this grieving for things missed out on; male bonding experiences during boyhood, teen and young adult years? Missed experience of being on a sports team? Discussing and finding out about sex in a more typical, usual manner with a peer group? Cross country road trips with a buddy or two or three? And on and on and on.

Lots of people never did these things. It's human nature to idealize that which we never had or did. It's also true that those who had those experiences also idealize them more and more as time goes by. With movies and television, they have become modern american mythology.

I've been in bars where I hear buddies discussing their sexual exploits. I am not a prude, and even if I wasn't especially aware of the ways that certain types of speech can demean and devalue human beings, I would still be disgusted by some of the things I heard. Not something I'm sorry I missed.

In fact, there a number of facts of adolescent male bonding rituals and behaviors that I'm glad I missed. They are demeaning and serve only to perpetuate coarse, vulgar, brutish behavior and stereotypes.

So I ask again, what does it mean to be one of the guys. Do you have to be part of a team or will just a small group of guys playing poker suffice? Do you have to know the guys, or can they be strangers? If you have to know them, then for how long?

When I go down to the docks, or out on a boat and throw my line into the water, I am one of the guys out fishing. Sometimes, I am alone, sometimes with a friend or my nephew, but I am always at that point, one of the guys fishing. I sometimes chat with these two guys I see at the docks. I don't know a thing about them except some fish stories, what teams they support, and what they look like. They know no more about me. I'm just a one of the guys who fishes at Captree on weekend mornings.

When I go to Home Depot, I'm just one of the guys who's there to buy stuff to do some project. I ask and give advice from/to other guys who are buying the same type stuff I'm buying or have bought.

Maybe it's just about having close male friends? A group of buddies? Is that it? That would be nice. So start or join a group of poker players, or fishermen, or hunters, or bowlers, or movie fans, or a book club. It goes back to what I said way up top here. Maybe you have to put yourself out there and join to feel like you belong.

And stop worrying about what they will think. They won't know your history unless you tell them. If you let them, they'll be happy to tell you their war-stories. Make those stories your own. And if something is said that goes aginst your ideals and principles, say so. If they can't respect that, it's not the group for you.

I can't tell you the number of times I have asked men to stop making racist, ethnic, or sexual comments, because I don't tolerate them. Very few negative reactions have ensued. SOme guys have later come up to me and thanked me for speaking up.

Don't take this post the wrong way. I know what you mean and what you feel. And it all ties back in to what has come up on these forums over and over recently. Just what does it mean to be BE A REAL MAN (GUY)?????? I'm just trying to break it all down, let go of what I can't change, and figure out ways to make it better.

And if anyone is interested, I have been working on the question "What is a Real Man" for quite some time. I have decided that that question is really inadequate. Man or woman is just a matter of anatomy. The real question is "What is a Real Human".

I decided the best way to answer the question was to describe how a Real Human should live. I'll be happy to share my thoughts on that if anyone is interested.

You can be Captain of your Ship, But not of the Sea.

If you understand everything, some things are just as they are. If you understand nothing, things are still just as they are.

#1265 - 08/20/02 08:18 PM Re: Still feeling "out there"
Cement Offline

Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 740
Loc: Southern California
I wish I had something 'better' to say, but isn't that just a symptom of the subject? Not feeling a part of the group? ironic, yet not.

I am posting to say: I know how you feel. I don't know exactly why, but we share this feeling: a feeling that we don't belong. Know that. Wish I could be more eloquent.

And let the darkness fear our light.


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