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#7674 - 09/23/01 02:12 AM From a distance

Sometimes when I'm in a situation (at work, for example) where I have to be "on" and need to be pleasant to others I'll be thinking inside, "Why the f--- am I doing this?" I often see myself at a distance, interacting, smoozing, smiling, saying the right things, but wanting more than anything to have it over with.

Oh, I'm good at this stuff. I can sparkle in a crowd and appear to be so interested, yet inside I'm thinking that I just want to be anyplace but where I am. I can play the role to the hilt, but I honestly don't know where the "real" me and the "acting" me begin or end. Am I really who I'm pretending to be? Or am I acting like someone that I'd rather be? Do I even know?

Anyone who knows me would affirm that I've got my stuff together. I appear rational, level-headed, capable, and personable. Since those are all attributes that got me through the rough waters of childhood and adolescence, they have served me well. But what about the little boy whose potential, enthusiasm, and spontaneity got interrupted or side-tracked. What would he have been like today?

Sometimes I would just like to not be "on" all the time. Can I ever stop being so mature, so "together," so resonsible? Why must I always be the one on whom everyone relies? Why do I like it when I am recognized for those qualities? Why do I get pissed when I'm juggling a zillion tasks and nobody seems to notice that I'm doing several things simultaneously (and with great stress) in order to make sure things get done or come out right? When is enough really enough?

Dynamite Don

#7675 - 09/23/01 11:12 AM Re: From a distance
blacken Offline
Chat Moderator

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 1980
Loc: Northern Ohio
Well Don, ur words ring so true. I've been thinking the SAME thing for the last few months. Like ,"just, who the hell am I?" I am not sure...What kind of person would I have been? What would I be Doing right now, this moment? I can think of some points, times when more than One "door" opened before me, and I chose the one I was programed to.
Many times at work, I want to say what I think. But I never do. If I speak up, its watered down, its "Politically Correct."
But you R so right about all this serving U well as a child. U HAD to pretend.
People may rely on U, because, U Really ARE strong. We who have survived, HAD to be strong, survival depended on strength!
U/us managed to put on a convincing face thru our torment of life. The face of survival, (not of living). The face we use to get by. To not draw unwanted attention. To convince our-selves that, "things are OK", even though we may not/did not fully believe it.
Great stress. I was talking about that yesterday, with someone. The Stress that taxes us so. Its the stuff that drives people insane........I am not sure how to describe it from here on...........
Keep posting Don.........BL

#7676 - 09/23/01 09:55 PM Re: From a distance

These are powerful posts. I, too, have had numerous identity issues. I tend to parrot others, to mimic them. I'm always in my head, trying to battle negative thoughts and images while on the outside I'm calm, cool and collected. Others would see me as being Mr. Joe Cool, but on the inside, it's a battle, a war--Hell.

I have very few friends because I can't stand the "small talk" or the mundane. If a conversation doesn't revolve around sex (I'm an addict) or electronics, then there isn't a conversation and I tune out and fantasize. They're all ways of avoiding the never ending battle that goes on inside.

And it helps to tune out because I expect the others around me to hurt me, to laugh at me. It is easy to feel less than everyone else--and this keeps me at a distance--just like "tuning out."

#7677 - 09/25/01 06:43 AM Re: From a distance
Just Call me J Offline

Registered: 07/14/01
Posts: 204
Loc: Inland Empire, California
I've got a reasonably large group of small sets of friends (tight circles of 3-6 each), but I'm finding that the friends I still have from my high school days, just don't seem to connect for me.

We're in a weird transition period; I've been working very screwed up hours (3pm-11pm Tues-Sat) for the last several years. I don't get to hang out with them that often, and they've been somewhat bitter about it, because they miss having me around.

I had been sending out a lot of emails about the recent tragedies, and there had been some contention. I met up with a couple of my friends, to talk in person, and try to iron out the bad feelings, so we can go on and just be friends.

So after we did the "work" we just hung out together. And hanging out was cool. But I wanted more than that. My friends had already indicated that they had reached their fill of "deep thoughts" and so I was left feeling... unfinished?

Now that I got home, I realize that I've got some leftover bad feelings, even though we thought we had covered these things already.

I guess I feel like our values are too different for us really to be compatible. I heard their theories about how I'm disconnected from people, and how I have all these deep thoughts, but no one to share them with, so I try to get it all out at once... and that view seems to devalue my opinion.

I guess it never occured to them that I actually LIKE thinking deep thoughts for long periods. I found myself agreeing with their assessments (or at least allowing the arguement), but now I feel like a coward for not saying "That's bullshit!"

I feel like I live on a completely different plane of existance than this group of friends. Because I never have these kinds of hangups with my other friends (like my college roommate, or my best friend helping me through this SA crap). I've known these guys since high school. One of them, since we were both in diapers. Maybe that's part of the problem... Because I find myself reacting like an insecure little kid around him (that was part of our conversation tonight).

I said that our values are different: I work in a group home with abused kids, for very little money. One friend is a mechanical engineer, making really good money. The other friend works as a technology trainer, and his family makes a ridiculous amount of money from his dad's own business.

Hearing these 2 guys talk about money, only makes me wonder: 'isn't there more to your life than that??' Don't get me wrong, money is an important tool, to provide for a secure future (I need to start finding ways to invest for my future, myself), but when will they make "enough" money? I don't think they have any particular goals; they just seem to know that more money is better.

And we seem to relate best, when it's on a surface kind of level. We're comfortable with each other, so the talk just kind of goes from one frivolous thing to another. And I am finding that it's not enough for me.

Now that I have finally reached my goal of dayshift, that they have begged of me for the longest time, I don't know that I want to spend that much of my newfound freetime with them. And I feel very guilty feeling that way.

Cutting off friends who have been a part of your life for over 12 (or 26) years is not small matter, and it's not something I'm going to enter into lightly. But I'm going to be wary, as I begin to spend more time with them (which will only affect our dynamic, anyway). So what the fuck?

These guys are strangers, cuz we haven't spent any meaningful time together in the last 5+ years. It's gotten more strained in the last 2. Maybe that's all there is. But maybe my instincts are much better than I have given them credit for...

I thought we were in this together.


We're in this together. - Nine Inch Nails

#7678 - 09/26/01 01:58 AM Re: From a distance


When we're going through a hard time, I believe it is natural to want to have one's friends "be there" for you. But, as you have identified, there are friends and there are friends. There are true friends and there are what I call "fringe friends." I think your high school friends may actually be in this category.....And my sense from reading your post is that they are on their way to being relegated to yet one more ring on the outer circle.

A few years ago, when I received an alumni questionnaire from my high school, one of the questions was something like, "Which of your high school friends are you regularly in contact with? And which friends do you want to connect with at the reunion?" Well, after giving this some thought, I wrote in "no one" on the form and sent it back.

Lest this sound sad or pathetic, don't go down that road. I was, I believe, well known and generally well liked in high school. But I couldn't wait to get out of there and get on with my life. I guess I wanted to put as much distance between me and my adolescence. Consequently, I did little or nothing to keep up any of those high school pretenses.

In college, I had many friends, and I still see a few of them. My best friend (and fraternity brother) from undergraduate school and I still see one another several times a year. Our wives get along with one another, too...after several intervening years where our visits were awkward and forced. But the way we have been able to salvage this friendship as adults is to love and accept one another as we are today...We don't talk about the past (the good old days in college) because more years have gone by than we'd care to count...and because my wife didn't know these people at the time that I first knew them. So, we started over. And what a gift this has been.

Probably one of my closest friends is my buddy, Joe. He is an SA survivor and we have shared many, many deep and personal stories, and we have laughed together and cried together about our pitiful, dysfunctional families and about our abuses. Since I believe that it is rare that men have this kind of relationship (where we can really talk and share our innermost thoughts, I hold his friendship as a real treasure. And it is because of my good friend Joe that I have had the courage to confront my own demons and to be able to talk about them.

So, Jeremy, I'm sorry to ramble on and on here, but I guess this is a roundabout way of suggesting that maybe it's time to let let those old high school friendships be what they are. Those friends have made an important contribution in your life and they helped you become the person you are today. Trouble is, you have moved beyond them. Your values are different, your struggles are different, and you're not in high school anymore. Their friendship was a wonderful gift from the Universe and were put here to walk with you on that particular part of your life's path. But now others (including some of us) who are walking with you while you're on this section of the journey. And this is where your energies are best directed.

You have been blessed to have friends at the various stages in your life, and this, in itself, is a wonderful gift.

The folks that you can be authentic with are the ones who will support you and give you energy, n'est-ce-pas?

Thank you for being one of the people who is walking alongside me on this particular section of my life's path. We ARE in this together, Jeremy.


#7679 - 09/26/01 10:41 PM Re: From a distance

Don, I looked over your original post, and there appears to be lots of separate but related issues. I relate to what you are saying very strongly, because I too struggle with the very behaviors that saved me, and have helped me to succeed in life. They certainly are a mixed blessing at best.

You sound frustrated with the role/roles you describe, so maybe there is opportunity for growth, if u are frustrated enought to let someone else be strong and let go of the reigns a bit.

#7680 - 09/27/01 12:50 AM Re: From a distance


You are so right. I need to learn to let go...and I'm working on this. It isn't easy because I've done a masterful job over the years of making myself indispensible....

Your instincts are right on target!



#7681 - 09/27/01 03:58 AM Re: From a distance
Stephen_5 Offline
BoD Emeritus
Registered: 09/12/00
Posts: 667
Loc: Northern California Foothills
Don and all,

All of the feelings and behaviours are so familiar to me. Sometimes I feel like I'm wearing a mask, a facade of calm, while I'm just screaming inside. I think it's all part of the defense system I developed when I was abused, I just haven't completely overcome yet. I too strive to do the best in whatever I do at work, I'm my own worst critic. I'm learning to ease off a bit and give myself the same consideration I would give anyone else I work with. That's difficult for me to do sometimes, it takes some real awareness of the underlying reasons for my actions. Sometimes I just have to step away from the situation and look at it from a different perspective.

Take care,


I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

#7682 - 10/04/01 12:23 AM Re: From a distance
jwh Offline

Registered: 02/18/01
Posts: 98
Loc: dallas, tx
Reading the first post on this link, as well as the replies (esp. yours, Scotty!) has given me chills. I didn't know anyone else was like this. Sometimes I have worried that I do not appear "traumatized" enough (despite the fact that I was hospitalized three times in a row and no one knew what to do except, finally, give me ECT, which helped) to be a sexual abuse survivor, as if I am just making this shit up, because I am very "functional" now in every day life. But the way that you guys talk about experiencing life--my god, I've never heard anyone talk so similarly, never had any friends who would understand what I was talking about in such an understanding way. And I mean understanding in the sense of having gone through the same shit. Wow. This site is very heavy.
Thank God.

"I've been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand... Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?"--Ian Curtis, Joy Division

#7683 - 10/04/01 02:04 AM Re: From a distance


I think you've hit the nail on the head....One of the most powerful and healing aspects of this forum is the discovery for ourselves that there are other guys out there we are struggling with things and heretofore we thought we were the only ones who were wrestling with them.

There is great power in having support and in knowing that you're not the only hurtin' buckeroo out there. This has certainly been transforming for me.



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