Monday, November 17, 2008

Connecting, or Living in Parallel

Last Friday night, P and I went to a friend's house for dinner. After a couple of hours, I had to take Harry home to get him ready for and into bed. In the time I was there, I'm not sure I spoke a single sentence that wasn't about Harry, and, being with people without kids (including half of a couple in the midst of IVF round 2, embarking on a FET after the wife developed OHSS before transfer on round 1), I didn't want to blabber on about him, so I didn't say much at all. I found myself feeling incredibly self-conscious, hyper-aware of the fact that I seemed to have become a bit of a shell of a person.

To be honest, I don't think I've ever been a great conversationalist -- I've always been a bit awkward when it comes to smalltalk, taking after my dad in that regard. I've gone through many such self-conscious moments in my life and have spent a lot of time feeling very alone, fearing that my inability to carry on a conversation has left me with more acquaintances than friends, struggling to connect with anyone on a substantial and substantive level. I think it's a bit of why I have always dived full-on into things, whether it be genealogy, sports, work, school, parenting -- having a hobby gives me something to talk about and a community of people with whom to connect.

But I never really feel connected. It's as though the world is full of people passing by, living their lives in parallel with mine but rarely being close enough to touch. And when I do reach out, or when they do, we make contact for a while, until we just don't anymore. And then we just drift back into our own parallel lives. As a result, I have few close friends from childhood or even college, and those I do have, I have largely because they put forth the effort.

When a relationship I was in many years ago ended, my ex got really angry and said quite a few hurtful things. Among them was that I was shallow, that my friendships were shallow, that my love of photography was the ultimate testimonial to that fact -- I chose to memorialize my life and the people in it rather than living it and interacting with them. At the time, I was really pissed. But there are days, weeks, months when I fear that I was so angry because he was the first person to ever really point out a serious truth about me. What if I do lack some essential ability to connect with people?

4 comments:

Nicky said...

If you lacked the ability to connect, you wouldn't have people following your story here. (Also, you wouldn't have any friends from childhood. Or a husband, for that matter.) Maybe you're like me: I take longer to get to know people before I feel comfortable initiating anything, so unless the other person is more outgoing than me, it's hard to start new friendships. Once I figured that out about myself, I just started working really hard to maintain the friendships I already had.

Also, I rely on my unbelievably gregarious husband to bring new friends into our lives. He's really good at it, so I meet new people through him. (For instance, I'm now close friends with several of his coworkers, because he invited them over often enough for me to get to know them.) There's a reason my husband is the one friend from college that I'm still in close touch with, so to speak. :)

Jen said...

I'm not a huge fan of lots of people. I prefer to pick and choose and I am pretty uncomfortable in social settings.

seussgirl said...

Thanks for commenting over on my blog; I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one struggling like this!

I'm going to work on trying to get closer to some of the people I already know. Maybe it's something we can work on "together." :)

niobe said...

Would it be incredibly trite to say that I could have written this? Every. Single. Word.