When I started school in second grade (I was held out before that because of my family’s religious belief that it was best to start school as late as possible, per Ellen G. White), I was socially awkward. I used my brain to make fun of people. As a result, I was not popular. I did not have many friends.
As I moved into third, fourth and then fifth grade, I developed my social skills and grew more friends. Life became more fun. Then halfway through fifth grade, my parents and I moved to California.
At Pacific Union College in the Napa Valley, people started saying I was “insecure.” I had not heard that word used much in Australia. The people I knew down under were not as psychologically sophisticated as my new community.
As the years went by, my position in the social pecking order was usually around the middle of the pack, with more time spent near the bottom than near the top. That’s been the story of my life. I understand losers because I’ve lived so much of my life around losers because they were the only kinds of people who would accept my presence.
It’s a horrible feeling to walk into a room of people and not find anywhere there who wants to talk to me. Throughout my life, the good cool people have often tolerated me, but not often accepted me.
As any regular reader of my blog understands, I can be terribly self-centered. It does no good, most of the time, to tell the self-centered person to think about others because usually the narcissist is in so much pain, he can’t think about others, any more than you, the normal person, can think about others when you have a killer toothache or headache. I’ve lived much of my life in agony inside and I still fall into that. The thing that works best for me, I’ve found, is connection with good people and with God. That’s what I was seeking when I converted to Judaism. The more apart I live, the more weird I get and the more difficult it becomes for normal people to have me around.
When I go to a 12-step meeting, I associate with people like me, those who’ve lived in the type of crushing pain that screams for a distraction that leads to addiction. Through 12-step work, I connect with people I can relate to, I connect with myself, and I connect with God.
Studying the Alexander Technique did not completely rewire my brain to the point where I no longer got stuck in sadness and depression, but it lightened these addictions so that I became more receptive to getting help.
When I see the effort that people must make to earn such a living that it will enable them to support a family, I despair of achieving that for myself. I fear I don’t have the strength. I can hold myself together, but can I support a family? Can I truly step into adulthood and take on those responsibilities?
When I date and relate, women start testing me, and the best ones usually find me lacking in strength of character. My neediness to connect renders me weak. The solution lies in connecting to God and to my best self and to other people I respect and to build from there. The solution lies in shul. Go and study.
I have a problem with idealizing and devaluing people (a symptom of narcissism). Do you find yourself doing this? Does your agony now correspond with agony in childhood? My agony in adulthood usually feels like agony from childhood, only worse and compounded. It’s so hard to shift out of the patterns I developed in childhood, patterns of insecurity, of feeling I was defective and unworthy, and feeling frightened to connect with others. Thank God for Facebook, for blogging, and for the distractions to be found in Torah.