Are you isolating yourself?

Silhouette of a woman in a cave looking at her...

I get this question a lot.

Probably because I spend a great deal of time alone, in some people’s minds too much. Its not that I want to be isolated, I just find that I am.  In fact, I’ve become an expert on non-isolation techniques, as in, I have figured out how to participate in life beyond my physical and emotional disabilities.

I love being with people. I always have. I see the same traits in my daughter, she loves being around her friends and gravitates toward busy jobs brimming with people.  The best job I ever had was at a women’s clinic where there was this awesome nest of women, all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and beliefs….it was heaven.

Then, came the losses to an already compromised emotional soul, each taking their chunk of me until I resemble a slice of swiss cheese.  The holes are huge and deep and gaping and oozing and I work every day at keeping myself from seeping out all over the place.

Isolation comes when one’s body breaks down, keeping you from your work, livelihood and friends where one begins to fade into the distance. The old adage…out of sight, out of mind is true.

Isolation comes when your family can’t look at who you are anymore, your emotional disease gives them plenty of reason to hate you and not come around, after all, being in pain isn’t pretty no matter how hard you try to gloss it over.

Isolation comes to visit again when faced with your child rejecting who you seem to be and not seeing who you really are.  On most days, I can still pray for her and our broken relationship while reframing the unrelenting ache of how much I want her in my life.

Isolation comes when your partner looks at you differently because the toll of you has surpassed what he expected and what he believes he can handle.  The look isn’t completely devoid of love; resembling more a doggedly loyalty and disappointment as to how life isn’t fair for him.

Its odd how the question of “are you isolating yourself” is presented to me.  Its almost as if I haven’t already climbed the tallest skyscraper to have a full and functioning life.  And it seems that its overlooked that I’ve walked across hot coals and  practically begged myself into different groups of people in order to keep that phobia at bay, forcing myself to hurdle over the fear/anxiety/warped thinking that wants to win and plunging straight into activities that sometimes work out and sometimes don’t.  I know what brings me joy and being acknowledged for who I am and invited to join an activity makes my heart soar.  Especially if it comes from any member of my family.  And that doesn’t sound like someone who tries to isolate herself.

Now here’s the tricky part.  This is where the psychiatric world has been called in to address my pain and isolation.   Its been decided that my love for people is an attachment of a pathological form.  Something I feel as a warm glow from my heart has been labeled as an aberrant way of avoiding my extreme fear of rejection of course, stemming from my childhood abuse and neglect.  My desire to love and not be isolated is now a bad thing.  Its now being presented, rather callously I may add, that I have borderline personality disorder to which in some parts I don’t disagree with.  The message has some merit but the delivery so far has sucked.

Wikipedia defines borderline personality disorder as “prolonged disturbance of personality function characterized by depth and variability of moods”.  It seems to be one of the scariest, time consuming and all around unsatisfying diagnosis for the psychological/psychiatric profession to deal with.   Joke among therapists… “How do you get rid of the annoying, troublesome patient from your caseload?  Tell them they are BPD and they will become so angry they will leave!”  Apparently even the non BPD want to be labeled BPD.  While some people laugh at this, I find this profoundly sad.

Wiki goes on to say that there is concern about social stigma; “the severe disapproval of or discontent with a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society”.  Apparently some members of the profession get that this particularly disease tends to ostracize the very people who are more than capable of doing that to themselves.  Hmmm….I’m getting some irony here….Wouldn’t it make sense to surround these people with love and acceptance for who they are while not enabling the disease.  Aren’t we back to the last post where I ranted about separating the person from their behavior?  Love the person, hate the disease?

Thank the universe for Marsha M. Linehan who has led the field in therapies for the BPD patient and added a whole lot of humanity to their situation.  Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is proving to be not only the best choice for recovery but accessible to those therapists choosing to change their elitist views on treating the sickest of the sick.  Marsha herself was/is a BPD patient subject to the most inhumane and cruel treatment at the hands of the psychiatric profession.  She schooled herself, becoming a PhD and led the way toward a kinder, gentler way of viewing the sick.

Those closest to me have learned to scorn me in a very obtuse sort of way. If they find me hurting and difficult, they leave.  If others see me alone too much, they say I isolate too much.  If I am anxious about an upcoming separation where I will be completely alone for several days, they tell me I am too attached and fear rejection.  If I object to and confront a situation that feels wrong (even though I’m told to take care of myself and my boundaries), then I’m labeled hostile and aggressive.

And as always, I reflect continually, my behavior, my nuance, the energy I project and constantly wonder….Am I really the crazy one?

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About Rescuing Little L

Documenting the pieces of my journey...recovery from childhood sexual abuse and cruel ignorance...the effects of those incidious acts through adulthood... until the grace of recovery transcended the trauma and shame of my past, making it possible to return to Rescue Little L.... View all posts by Rescuing Little L

34 responses to “Are you isolating yourself?

  • ☼Illuminary☼

    ABSOLUTELY F’N NOT.
    I crave being alone, like some people crave chocolate, drugs, Alcohol.
    I get all kinds of negativity around my “leave me alone”
    Does it mean I am crazy?
    ~snort~
    ask me more if I care what some Therapist-Psycologist-PHD head doctor thinks. I think that they are the sick ones, In need of being fixed. They are the ones who “need to fix people” to conform to some one elses standards and norms.
    WE are all doing the best we can from where we are at. I will not back down from what makes me happy, if I hurt no one, that includes myself..
    Then leave off.
    Sounds like you know all the irony, and have climbed the mountain and see the view…
    if you still can love, then you are doing better than 70% of the people I know.

  • Crowing Crone Joss

    okay, so dump these people and find new ones. Ones who will support you, who will actually listen to who you are, ones who will know when to let you be and when to drag you out! ones who love you just the way you are. dump ’em, i say!!

    • Little L

      you are so good for my soul, this just brings tears to my eyes…i’ve been second guessing myself all over the place…be still and listen….i will do more of that and bless you my dear…((hug))

  • shermeekaflies

    People say the same to me. Sometimes, it’s good to be away from people so one can think. I am so glad I found this blog. I will be following it.

  • shermeekaflies

    That’s what I think most of the time! If I want to be by myself, there is nothing wrong with that. I love the human race, but not to the point where I have to be around people 24/7. It only becomes a problem when I’m hurting emotionally and I say nothing. When that happens, I have to talk to someone. Otherwise, my thoughts become dark and that’s unnecessary for me today.

  • Randy Creath

    I’m standing with you in the isolation…

  • ntexas99

    It took a lot of years for me to realize that although sometimes being isolated is not a healthy place for me to be, most of the time I do best when I am alone and separate from most people. I was so relieved when, after years of facing anger and disappointment, one of my siblings finally got it, and understood that my need to be alone did not mean I loved them any less … it simply meant that I am a person who needs silence, and space. Our relationship has been much improved ever since that time.

    Trust your own instincts. If isolation is your friend, then embrace it, and trust that sooner or later, other people in your life will figure it out.

    • Little L

      I love hearing how other folks have worked this situation out…This is probably how I do best, in some sort of balance between solitude and being with people who are good for me…interestingly enough, I find that I can spend endless time with animals, not only as great companions but healers too…

      Now, the trusting your instincts thing is being put to the test, especially during this time of finger pointing and fear based conclusions…I am happy to say that again my instincts and faith in the universe that I will be shown what I need has triumphed and I feel back on track….

      Thanks ntexas!

  • ntexas99

    Isolation is a word that gives a negative mental picture, whereas solitude paints a mental picture that evokes choice, and contentment. Funny how both mean being alone … I guess when we are being healthy and taking care of ourselves and we are alone, we are practicing solitude, but when we are escaping the world because we are overwhelmed or having a bad day, we are wrapped in isolation. Both serve to protect us, and keep us safe, so I believe both have a place in our lives.

    I liked what you said about being around “people who are good for me”. That’s a tricky one, isn’t it? Sometimes that excludes people in your own family, or even, sometimes, people you might presently live with, until you can change your circumstances. But recognizing how important it is to remove negative influence from our lives does a lot to keep us moving in the right direction. Good point. Excellent, even.

  • kalima123

    It’s all about Balance – I truly need some alone personal time to wake up, relax, and just get re-centered. Too much stimuli, one thing after another, actually effects my stability, even with meds, meditating, and other good self care habits. Also, have positive people in my life is crucial. I’ve distanced myself from the “toxic ones” even though it’s been incredibly painful. It’s just not worth the pain and energy drain. So you are definitely not “the crazy one” – you are taking care of yourself and respecting your own needs. Good for you!!!

  • suzicate

    I crave solitude but at the same time want to be with others. Quite frankly, other people wear me out…the drama is exhausting! We all want to belong in our families even when our families contain toxic members. The difficulty is holding those people at bay while accepting who they are at the same time. It doesn’t help us to be around all people. While joining in might be healthy we learn the most in solitude. I think it takes a balance, and really no one knows us better than ourselves; even if they have a bunch of letters after their name.

    • Rescuing Little L

      couldn’t agree more…i usually feel exhausted and way overstimulated when around others. i pick and choose my exposure to others and their energies very carefully these days…still have a lot to learn and love having you being a part of this process…

  • Dan McGaffin

    I totally get this need for isolation/solitude. After being around people all day at work, I definitely need my alone time. When I’m with family for a few hours, I tend to feel the “need” to get away. In a couple of weeks I’m going to be meeting some internet friends which excites the heck out of me. It sounds like it’s going to be a big block of the day, and I hope that I don’t feel this need to get away because I truly cherish these people. But that worry is there in the back of my head.

  • Joyce

    Our house burned down last August. We can’t afford to rent this one without my mother-in-law. She constantly invalidates me. I tried to talk to her about it yesterday, and she said that she understands, I screamed at her “No, you don’t!” If she did, she’d quit doing it. I’m having a very hard time right now. Trying to work on my website:

    http://makebpdstigmafree.wordpress.com/

    • Rescuing Little L

      That sounds like a rough situation….I’ll try to check in more often so that you can use me or others as a sounding board instead of your mother in law….working on the website is a good distraction skill for sure, I use it often. Girl, I struggle with this all the time, my husband’s family isn’t supportive but I just leave them be and hang with those that are! I get it!

  • Joyce

    That therapists’ joke is horrible! No wonder people with BPD don’t get the help they so desperately need! With stigma like that. And then they say how Borderlines are so terrible.

    • Rescuing Little L

      I’m sorry that the comment was upsetting….I actually only heard one person say that. I have an incredible therapist who prefers working with those with “emotion regulation issues” because we are so bright and intuitive….she’s a peach and hoping you have someone that special to work with you….sorry, if I upset you ((hug))

      • Joyce

        I’m not upset with you, I’m upset with them. With people like that. My counsellor is great. I have people at the local Peer Support Centre who are great. My family is sometimes great. Other times, they are invalidating as hell and make me feel worse. I just got news from my sister on Friday that my dad is going for chemo on June 3rd. If it doesn’t work, as for some people, he has 1-2 months to live. I was also dealing with that on Friday (when I blew up at my MIL)

      • Rescuing Little L

        Glad about the good support….wow, please be gentle with yourself especially as you now go through this chapter with your father….I will send you some blessings for you and him. Breathe….this seems like a lot to handle…

  • susan

    I just gave up my ladies church group. I felt it was going nowhere. I think I am starting to isolate myself again. I am spending to much time alone now that I am retired. I worry a lot and don’t want to be around others or family. Only my boyfriend (who lives near by) and just my animals. I have tried to meet with others but don’t know how to just sit al listen. I always feel defensive. Why is that? I always feel lonely, but don’t want to go anywhere accept out to eat or a movie. I spend a lot of time alone. (retired) Some days I want to be with others and other times I don’t want to be with anyone. I have no family around because they all think I am nuts. I am pushing myself to exercise and get out more. Since I moved here in GA all I do all day is go to Goodwill or yard sale and out to eat. I have no friends to speak of. I don’t know anyone. How do I shake this wanting to be isolated but still want to be around people. I volunteer at a local food bank once a week but sometimes I don’t even want to do that until I force myself to go then I am ok. I don’t socialize much with the other ladies there. I just stay busy then go home. Why am I this way? I liked reading your statement on isolation and therapy. I have been to so many I have quit counting. Help…

    • Rescuing Little L

      Susan…Sorry it took me so long to respond. I hear so much pain in this story and feels very familiar. I feel badly as you were reaching out and I was unavailable.

      I’ve tried many of the activities you listed and many of them to no avail. Like you, there are too many to list but also feel the need to say that sometimes, when I least expect it, I stumble onto a resource that is like striking gold. Many of my best relationships are online with people, mostly women, that I haven’t even met. Yet, we are all close and have shared details that many of us don’t share with partners, friends or family. I would be happy to include you in our circle of women in several groups if you would like or even have more correspondence with you one on one if that would help. I’ll look for a response here or you can e-mail me at rescuinglittlel@gmail.com….Take care darlin’….

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