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Becoming social again


Unbekannt
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My mother in law is a member in a group of women that is organized nationwide for charitable purposes. The group has formal structures and rules, which are voted on. But the organization is mostly in small local groups that are carried by friendship and respect. I don't want to name the group here out of respect. So omission of the name is deliberate, but not with bad intentions.

I'm scared, but also so excited.

My mother in law is the person who taught me what it meant to have a mother. The relationship is very special in a most positive way to me. So far this relationship took place only within the circle of my husband's family and in one outside situation - very strong support from my mother in law when my mother visited the US. She came and spent almost all the time here when my mother was present, so that my mother had to behave too and couldn't fall into the routines of destructive dysfunctional behavior that so terribly hurt me.

So except that one situation the relationship to my mother in law - that special and important relationship - is defined within the boundaries of family. A very easy to oversee field of interactions by people whose behavior toward each other and toward me as well is carried by loving kindness and considerations for each others needs, feelings and wishes.

This group I'm about to be initiated into, is important for my mother in law. It gives her meaning, it gives her company, it gives her joy. She invited me to some of the meetings of her chapter, so I could meet the members and the members could meet me. I was impressed by the feelings I perceived, very kind to each other, very friendly, very aware and considerate. Not that it is all picture book perfect - there is conflict as well, but the ability of the group to handle it in a positive way impressed me.

And this is me.

Almost two years ago I was lying on my bed curled up in a ball, crying the life out of me and wishing to be dead. I cut off the relationship to almost everybody. Then I went into therapy. Things got better. And at the moment life has that very peaceful, tranquil quality. I know that I am delaying to establish social contacts. I explored this hesitation with my therapist and we came to the conclusion that I was so afraid of getting hurt again that I rather avoid any contact, even though the result is a life that is not as fulfilling as I like it to be. We agreed, that I simply needed time and that when things are right they will fall in place.

They do fall in place. I've gotten myself out there, I start now to uncurl socially again. But oh, I'm so scared.

What if I screw up? What if they hate me after a while of getting to know me?

My behavior often is slightly off, I don't even know why that is. Sometimes I feel as if 'they' all speak a language I just can't comprehend and not get the right clues as to what is the appropriate reaction. It baffles me, since I'm very empathic, very able to understand what people feel, yet - in somewhat more loose (not intense and intimate) relationships I often fail in reacting really appropriate. It has resulted in some ugliness in the course of my life. My therapist tried to explain to me that neglect of a baby can result in damage to the brain that will cause social trouble, but also that a child being traumatized at such an early age gets stuck in believing 'it's all me', because I do this, they do this and so forth and not that people can have a bad day and be rude, or are very tired and lack sensitivity and more of those. I try to 'get' that to realize this beyond logical comprehension. I understand it. But can I live it? For a long time in my life I simply overcame it by sexuality. Put sensuality out there, the invitation for sex and things get turned around. That had become a need to me, also a thrill seeking and that weird need to increase it's intensity to be further thrilled and satisfied. That need is gone. I also do not wish to anymore overcome social problems by sex. I want sex for sex' sake (with my husband) but not in other context. Just doesn't do it anymore for me. But it was my one coping mechanism. It's gone now.

So I'm going to join this circle of very kind but also very conservative women. They have lived their share of trouble but always remained very clearly within those social confines of the middle class life. They like me enough to extend the invitation, which every member must have agreed to (in anonymous vote) or the invitation will not be extended. So I know I'm wanted. That in itself feels so strange and scary. Sometimes I wonder, may be they only agreed to me joining them because they like my mother in law so much that they don't dare to reject a protégé of hers. But the vote is anonymous. Nobody would know who voted what, so if they didn't want to be around me a simple 'no' on a little piece of paper would have done it, without anybody ever knowing why or who. They want me to be there? Right?

For the first time in my life I really know all of myself, no dark pit still hidden within me that I know is there but haven't been able to touch yet. I've been there. I know. I have practiced mindfulness, so that I'm able (I hope...) to recognize when things slip into old forms of thinking/coping/reacting and put that switch inbetween there that hopefully will give me the moment necessary to consider a reaction and then put the right one out there. I'm prepared. Right?

But what will happen if I slip? What if I do those weird kind of 'little off's' and they accumulate enough for one of the women to get a really hatred of me and an ugly scene will boil up? How will that impact the relationship to my mother in law? Can I handle it to get hurt again without being curled up on my bed in fits of sobs unable to even talk?

I sure want to try it. I feel like it's a chance. All the advance in therapy/learning I can make in an isolated environment I have done. I need to put it to the test and get myself out there. I'm so building on little success (that I hope will happen) that reinforces positive ways so that I'm becoming more confident and further able to deal with less caring environments. I also am trusting that my mother in law will interfere (in a positive way) should things go out of sink, I've seen her being quite skillful and very caring to others in similar situations. And I know she is forgiving, if it really should come to a crash I can obtain forgiveness from her. That's the most important, isn't it, that I'm able to maintain the relationship to her? So far all my experiences with her have reassured me in her stability, forgiveness, kindness, consideration and wish to do good to others. Not that I always agreed with her, but her basic motivation is clear and she has always lived up to it.

I'm not so sure about my ability to cope with pain, with being hurt. I've been working in therapy and since on creating that protection of the inner core of self, that place where I'm truly vulnerable. In a way my being here is also a putting that to a test, but this is the internet/forum/e-mail environment where I always have been a lot more capable, so I'm not sure in how far I can apply in a real life situation what I'm able to exercise here. Can I establish proper boundaries and maintain them even if assaulted? I don't know. I really don't know. But I know that I get myself by mutual choice into an environment of caring and quite aware people, so attacks to that inner core should be little and unintentional. I should be able to handle that, shouldn't I. And even though probably this is socially not that common and always accepted, but in this environment it should be possible, I always can directly address the issue and ask for resolution or help to resolve. I also have my husband. Usually talking things through with him gives me very worthwhile insights into other people or puts my own reaction into the correct proportions so I don't feel totally overwhelmed or threatened. And if all else fails I always can call my therapist and set up an appointment and ask him to help me analyze the relationships and interactions to get his input on what it can mean and what I can do/how to react, should I get totally lost.

So the probability of my worst fears coming to happen is not very great. The opportunity for change or application of change is given. I can oversee the risks I'm getting myself into and as far as I can see right now I am able to deal with them. And beyond all of that, I liked the women when I met them, I enjoyed being with them, we had mutual interests, that's a good thing.. a joyful thing... - yet I can't put the fears away. But I can enter the group with having those fears and simply see them blown away, dissipate in simple social interactions. During all my contact with them I had fears of meeting them, of being 'off', of things go wrong, but they didn't. Each time I came out there with a feeling of having had a real good time, having been around people I liked to be around, shared some opinions and some not, lots of talk and laughter, enjoying myself and their company (and loose that painful self awareness). They made it clear to me that they liked me, respected me, enjoyed me to be there, were attracted to my way of thinking. My mother in law told me, that I appeared at ease and relaxed, so what I projected meets with what I felt. It were good experiences. I've made them with this group. I can have more... I want to have more. I can do this...

Am I lying to myself? Am I making a fool out of myself? Am I delusional? Am I talking myself happy and not see the reality? I wish I could trust myself. But I will join. I will go in there and do the right thing and have fun. And I will under all circumstances protect the relationship to my mother in law. I couldn't stand to loose it.

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Wow. What a beautiful, heartfelt piece of writing... :) I'm just sitting here smiling and touched.

You're not lying, foolish or delusional and you see ALL of the reality. You feel the fear but you're going to do it anyway. I wish you the best of luck! One day you'll look back and wonder why you worried. :)

All things are difficult before they are easy...

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I can relate towards your social life. I have the same fears and anxieties. I force myself into it giving it my best.i was a introvert my whole sec school life through and i began to change at university were bad and good things happened to me. I also hav a mom thats socially paranoic and very antisocial. My m.i.l is realistic, direct, perfectionistic,religious and very social. Like u i want to please my m.i.l and love and respect my mom. Hang in there, one day u will miss them both. Everyone has good in them. Seek and u shall find. Bt please judge for yourself if a thing is good or not.

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Wow. What a beautiful, heartfelt piece of writing... :D I'm just sitting here smiling and touched.

You're not lying, foolish or delusional and you see ALL of the reality. You feel the fear but you're going to do it anyway. I wish you the best of luck! One day you'll look back and wonder why you worried. :)

All things are difficult before they are easy...

Thank you :)

It felt so good to put it all down and have it somewhere out. Feels even better to get such a response! Thank you!

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I can relate towards your social life. I have the same fears and anxieties. I force myself into it giving it my best.i was a introvert my whole sec school life through and i began to change at university were bad and good things happened to me. I also hav a mom thats socially paranoic and very antisocial. My m.i.l is realistic, direct, perfectionistic,religious and very social. Like u i want to please my m.i.l and love and respect my mom. Hang in there, one day u will miss them both. Everyone has good in them. Seek and u shall find. Bt please judge for yourself if a thing is good or not.

Thank you, Sweetmom.

I wasn't online as much the last few days then I was before, things got busy (and that's a good thing, too!). But from your few sentences I thought, "there is a story to be told as well". I haven't looked up your other messages on the board yet, but will do that.

Different then you there is no positive feeling left in me for my mother. I hate and despise her. I am working on loosing that hate, not for her sake, but for my sake. It's a destructive fire burning in me and eating me, and I want to be free of it. She shall have no more hold on me, not even that of hate.

And I think you are right, there is even good in my mother, though I think I was one of those who got the least of that to experience. But I know that she helped my cousin very much after my cousin's mother (who was my mother's sister, my aunt) committed suicide. My cousin's father got remarried to a girl who was two years older then my cousin and things turned into a very, very ugly stepmother/stepchild situation. So I know my mother is capable of doing good. She also helped raise my own children and she did so much better to them then she did to me. Something that sometimes deeply angers me and almost makes me be jealous of my own children.

So, yes, she's capable of doing good.

Does knowing that quench the hatred and despise? Not the slightest bit. Until today she doesn't even show insight into the suffering I experienced as child. She is only defensive of herself and justifies herself, it's all she's capable of. After all that happened I can't even have a mother who I could trust to not judge me, to accept me, to not be afraid of being hurt both intentionally and unintentionally in her endless quest for self justification.

Writing that it screamed in me "I hate her, I hate her..."

And I hear it. I watch myself. It happens, and I need to let it happen. I got the opposites listed here, where she does good and where she tortures me. One day I guess it will be less painful to remember her and her actions, one day I might be able to emphasize with her and then probably the hatred will leave.

One of these days.

*hugs*

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Hello, (Un;))bekannt,

I just don't know how to express my impresssions "induced by" your post (from 03-24-2010) by other words than Luna did, so I only write it very simlpy: I agree with Luna and I have the same impression and feelings :) I'm happy to see you've found such a way to socialize again!!! Hold on to your decision; I'm sure it's a very good one :).

Good luck! :D

L.

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Does hating her help? It only helps in hurting you more and preventing you from recovering. Many times i cant handle my father, my mother, my sister, my husband, my son so bad that im making plans to move.it is a huge struggle. I cant control them and i hate that! I get so frustrated cause they are all selfsentered! Its a battle for me to get them to listen to me and i get huge anger explosions if i dont calm myself. Bt hating them...is a waste of my life. Dont hate her. What would you gain from it? She wont bother bt the people around you, your loved ones, you...they are suffering.

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Does hating her help? It only helps in hurting you more and preventing you from recovering. Many times i cant handle my father, my mother, my sister, my husband, my son so bad that im making plans to move.it is a huge struggle. I cant control them and i hate that! I get so frustrated cause they are all selfsentered! Its a battle for me to get them to listen to me and i get huge anger explosions if i dont calm myself. Bt hating them...is a waste of my life. Dont hate her. What would you gain from it? She wont bother bt the people around you, your loved ones, you...they are suffering.

Yes, you are right.

But don't you think, that we need to accept the negative emotions in us as well? That we need to accept that we are as imperfect as everybody else we see and that there is as much destruction in us as is in them? The experience of that hatred, the acceptance and the permission to self to go there will allow me to deal with it directly and not let it become a force that's biting me in the back (to not say ass) in an unexpected moment. Don't you think that is the first step to get rid of it?

What would happen if you are experiencing justified anger and let the expression of it happen? Sometimes people feel they can walk all over us because we allow it to happen. Anger is a valid human emotion. Not one I think anybody is proud of, but it serves a purpose at times.

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