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#442128 - 07/25/13 04:01 PM Getting Real
unhappycamper Offline

Registered: 10/21/11
Posts: 754
Loc: VA

One mental habit I haven't been able to break is feeling unreal--not a real person, not part of anything, not really there, always watching the action from elsewhere. All the things that real people do are not meant for me. If I do a real thing, I'm just imitating a real person--"passing for real." I don't know if I fool the real people, but I don't fool myself.
Has anyone found a way to get past this? After 19 years of trying, I haven't. I'm about to turn 61, and I'd like to be a real person for a little while before time runs out.
Some of you undoubtedly recognize this mood as "Post-Watching-Perks-of-Being-A-Wallflower Syndrome," but I found the movie to be positive and uplifting, despite Charlie's problem. The saddest scene, I thought, was the 2 seconds when Charlie took his pills. Been there, still am. Far more disturbing was his favorite song, "Asleep" by The Smiths--it's basically a suicide note.


#442129 - 07/25/13 04:12 PM Re: Getting Real [Re: unhappycamper]
FormerTexan Offline

Registered: 09/12/04
Posts: 12126
Loc: Denver, CO
Some days I wonder if I have ever completely got passed it, but it took hanging out with other people for several years before I felt like one of the gang, so to speak. It also took having a healthy self-image grow over time. I remember twenty years ago feeling pretty inconsequential among the crowd of people I knew.

It does get better. If I still feel apart from the crowd, I people-watch to stay with the moments until someone comes over and says hi. That way I still feel connected to the crowd in some way instead of feeling like I'm just on the sidelines.
Money talks, but all it tells me is goodbye.

If I could meet myself as a boy...

#442158 - 07/25/13 10:57 PM Re: Getting Real [Re: unhappycamper]
Casmir213 Offline

Registered: 05/14/09
Posts: 851
Loc: Northeast, USA

I've felt like an outsider my whole life, even within my own family at times. This feeling keeps me isolated away from society for the most part, because I don't know what to do with that feeling, as I've never been able to get over it. I usually seek out one on one friendships with people when I'm at work, but that's always fleeting, as work relations aren't friendships. Crowds or groups of people scare me. I'd rather observe from afar than to be involved in any way other than as someone on the borders of it.

One thing occurred to me while re-reading your post. You are participating here by posting this. You belong here and have chosen not to be just an observer here. That's different from how you describe yourself. It may not be an in person kind of belonging and participation, but it still qualifies.

Somewhere along the line, as an adult, it comes down to a belong or not to belong. The habitual choice for me has been to chose not to belong when give the opportunity. For reasons of, as FormerTexan mentioned, low self-image, I think I've come up with excuses as to why I could never fit in over the years, but for the most part it's been an unconscious kind of a thing, probably based on underlying feelings of shame, mistrust, and perhaps anger, toward a society that seems to "gel" together so easily and at the drop of a hat...something I've been observing all my life, while brooding in my anger at the same time asking myself the question over and over in my head "Why am I not like that?". If I had that answer pinpointed, perhaps I'd be contented with that, but I don't even have that. I agree with FT that it takes time with people to get that feeling of belonging. Our self-image/esteem must be based on that feeling of belonging too. It's a catch-22 for those of us who've started out in life at a disadvantage, one that ends up in a lifetime of being an outsider unless we decide to change somewhere along the line.

I see recovery as a lifelong journey rather than a final destination, a journey, though, which can have many successes along the way.

WoR Alumnus - Hope Springs, OH, October 2009

My avatar is the farmhouse at the Hope Spring, OH WoR. It's a nice place.

#442178 - 07/26/13 01:50 AM Re: Getting Real [Re: Casmir213]
unhappycamper Offline

Registered: 10/21/11
Posts: 754
Loc: VA

Thanx for the reply. I agree that it's up to us as adults to do something about the Unreal feeling. After all, it's a completely internal thing. At this point in life (for me, CSA plus 54 years), it doesn't even matter why the feeling is there--it isn't really "about" anything any more, if it ever was. And it doesn't let up, even when I'm doing something Real--I'm still just faking what real people are entitled to do. I've never asked myself why I'm not like real people, I've always figured that's how they are and this is how I am.

Still, it's awfully hard to change such a basic and pervasive part of one's (my) personality. I wonder if it can really be changed, i.e., made to not exist. If that means pretending it isn't there and never was, like I did with the CSA episode for 35 years, I know that is a losing strategy. In the case of the CSA, it was nearly fatal for me. So ever since the flashbacks imploded my life, I've been afraid to turn my back on that bit of the past again. After 19 years of therapists, groups, meditation, martial arts, doctors and pills, the only sure way I can recover from the flashbacks and panics is to go back into that Unreality Shell where I'm always alone. It's like spending 19 years and counting in the PTSD "crisis phase."

If there's a better--or just different--way to go, I have yet to find it. But enough whining! Peace.


#442182 - 07/26/13 02:15 AM Re: Getting Real [Re: unhappycamper]
Rich1967 Offline

Registered: 07/18/13
Posts: 628
Loc: PA
I wonder how many survivors don't feel this way? For me I self isolated because it was the safest way to not feel the pain of rejection which I always assumed would happen because I'm so "different" than everyone else. So I watched from the sidelines.

I remember the first friend I tried to make after 20 yrs of no friends. I remember having a conversation with him where I asked why do you want to be friends with me? No matter how much he said he wanted to be friends with me I just couldn't believe it. Slowly I started to accept that we were friends and that maybe I am likeable on some level, but I always would ask him on occasion if he was still ok with being my friend because down deep I just couldn't believe that anyone would want to be my friend.

I hate even relating this...sigh...

I still have those feelings, BUT I reach out anyways to other people and it is NOT easy for me. That friend after a year of saying "yeah we're friends don't worry" came to me one day and said we can't be close friends any longer. I think I know why and that I'm partly to blame (I think I'm going to post my own thread about this one). It hurt and normally I would have self isolated for months/years over that kind of thing, but instead I joined MS and reached out here. I have some other relationships that I started about the same time as the friend who dropped me and those friendships feel pretty strong.

I guess what I'm trying to say is "No pain, no gain". I hate the pain. I really do, but I hate the loneliness more now. The times that I reach and it works are so awesome. I find that with each success I'm able to be braver with less effort for the next time. I even like to go to social events with my wife once in a while although she doesn't really believe me when I say that yet.

I hope you find the power to join in and if you do let me know all about it. It will help give me strength I'm sure to keep trying as well.
"Me too"-I don't think I will ever get tired of saying or hearing these two words.
My Story

#442193 - 07/26/13 03:43 AM Re: Getting Real [Re: unhappycamper]
Still Around Offline

Registered: 01/22/13
Posts: 22
Loc: Pennsylvania
Your thoughts that you gents have posted here so closely match my own I'm actually quite frightened. It's strange, I've been in recovery for less than a year and I still feel like a spectator to my own life, watching from afar those things to which part of me feels so entitled (love, family, etc. I can't explain as much as I would like to, but I often feel like a simulacrum, just this hollow imitation of a man --- headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

Like you Caz I've often wondered why those things that seem to come so easily to the "real" people just seem so very difficult for me. And yet even when they aren't I have a difficult time even accepting that. I can't tell you how often I cannot accpet compliments or others' feelings towards me, good or bad.

And the truth is that scares me, this all scares me. Some days I just feel myself drifting away and I a so very scared that I may one day drift so far off I can't come back.

I know there must be some way to become grounded again in the present, in the real. It's going to have to be a fundamental change in how I view myself and not only my place as a person, by my worth as a person too. I have find the strength to recognize that I can be real. And I hope you all too find that strength, and harness it to find your own selves. It's our right as people to have ourselves at the very least.

#442206 - 07/26/13 07:05 AM Re: Getting Real [Re: unhappycamper]
Jacob S Offline

Registered: 01/01/13
Posts: 690
Loc: where the shadows lie
Sometimes I have to resort to the "what would I do if I was being real?" game. Where I basically dream up a version of me that is authentic all the time and then I pretend to be him. But the pretend me I try to be like has to be true to my nature, not who I wish I was (its hard to explain). Its kind of like having authenticity training wheels. I also find myself thinking up fictional motivations for why I do the things I do, so I have to say to myself "is that real or a story?" "Back to Reality" is a key phrase I say to myself to get myself to examine the real reason behind things. The more I can turn off shame and caring about expectations (both the expectations of others around me and the expectations of how I wish I was) the better I can see the true me lurking under the waves. The trick, at least for me, is to not be mad or worried about the times I find myself disconnected but just start moving back toward myself as soon as I notice it. So I try to notice details about the present moment without thinking about the past or future at all. I think about what I like or don't like about this particular moment, but without focusing on how to change it or judging it.

Of course, I'm also on meds. So it could just be that!

Edited by Jacob S (07/26/13 07:09 AM)
I am a veteran of the soul wars.

#442214 - 07/26/13 10:47 AM Re: Getting Real [Re: unhappycamper]
Poorsoft Offline

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 163
You need to meet yourself, literaly. There is such a technique which can help break dissociation or at least curb it.

Heres what you do.
1) You will need the following:
-A quiet, private place where you cannot be distracted.
-At least 30 minutes where you wont be disturbed. (phones and anything that will distract you need to be off).
-Either a mirror, large cussian, large teddy or anything that you can use as an avatar.

2) Spend at least 2 minutes doing slow, calm breathing. Relax your muscles by carefully tensing them for a few seconds and release. Do this head to toe.

3) You should be sat comfortably.

4) It is up to you to keep yourself safe, additionally you need to challenge yourself. Ensure you can easily end the exercise if required and only of required.

5) Get a few sheets of paper and a pen ready to write.

6) Once relaxed and ready you need to literally meet your avatar. Talk to it and ask it questions to find out about it. Do a full interview, you will be answering the questions asked.

7) Once the 30 minutes is up; draw or write anything you feel, not think; feel. Write the emotions, what they meant, how strong/weak they felt, what they mean.

8) This is not about berating yourself or judging yourself. This is an investigation into your psyche.

Good luck

#442268 - 07/27/13 12:03 AM Re: Getting Real [Re: unhappycamper]
BraveFalcon Offline

Registered: 02/26/13
Posts: 1231
Loc: The ATL

Wow, I relate to this thread so much. For as long as I can remember, I have felt like I was not a real person. Not like other people are. Not like "normal" people are. Sometimes almost like I'm not even human. I have not seen the movie "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" yet but I know what it feels like to exist as one. However, when I am accepted into a social situation, I've found the only way I can break out of that "wallflower" state of being is to be the extreme opposite. I can't relate to other people well, so I become a clown. Sometimes I think my behavior around others may seem almost cartoon character-ish. I can't help it though. I am not one of them. I'm not real like they are. I only know what it's like to be laughed at or ignored. There is no in between. Take care. Peace,


#442269 - 07/27/13 01:01 AM Re: Getting Real [Re: unhappycamper]
victor-victim Offline

Registered: 09/27/03
Posts: 6387
Loc: 𝒪 𝒦anada
the best way i know to get past feeling unreal.

i use a mirror to touch base.

i meditate on my own reflection.

feedbacking visually and virtually.

accepting exactly what and who i see before me.

i quote popeye "iyam what iyam"
i quote jhvh "i am who i am" "AHAYAH ASHER AHAYAH"
i quote Descartes "i think therefore i am" "COGITO ERGO SUM"

i look in my eyes and say "i love you just the way you are"

the way i get connected to everything is through the comfort of knowing that this infinite universe must require my presence.
i believe i belong,
or the creator's production department would not have taken time from it's impossibly busy schedule to give me this life.
that logic implies some need or purpose for my existence,
no matter how futile, insignificant, or painful it may seem at times.
i am on the agenda.
i matter.

you belong.
you are on the agenda.
you matter.
you are real.

"dum spiro spero,
credo quia absurdum"
"as i breathe, i hope.
i believe because it is absurd."



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