It is ironic that in order to learn to be alone, I thought I had to first learn to be with people. This involved meeting them. A prospect equally as scary as not meeting them. I was stuck.
This social anxiety was my inheritance. My Mom, a single parent, bequeathed other things to my other siblings, but I got a lifelong crippling fear of asking for what I wanted from people. Things like communication, companionship, and sex. Of course the root was fear of being rejected and being alone. This involved a fair amount of mind reading and predicting the future. My conclusions were never tested so I was never to discover just how inaccurate they were.
Until one day after Barb Will swept in and out of my life, and consequently I was suffering the devastation from a scorched earth narcissist, the end of an engagement, the end of my music community that came and went with her, my primary friendships that sided with her due to her smear campaign, I found myself with lots of time on my hands. And a book called Intimate Connections by Dr. David Burns. He became my doctor to heal my lifelong anxiety and pain.
It wasn’t until much later that I read Getting Rid of Crazy, by Dr. Tara Palmatier, that I learned to recognize the Barb Wills in my life, the personalities that prey on lonely men who have yet to develop the assertive skills to ask clearly for communication, companionship, and sex.
Dr. Burns, a cognitive therapist, one of the first in the medical community to adopt the work of Dr. Albert Ellis, (www.rebtnetwork.org) suggested through his book that I first spend 6 months alone.
Huh? Is this guy nuts? Impossible! Yadda Yadda Yadda.
I really didn’t have an option as it turned out, I was alone anyway, so I entered his programme of what turned out to be, self care, self nurturing.
Then the light turned on. After six months of making myself nice meals (would you invite your best friend over, feed him a hot dog and call him a loser?) buying myself flowers, and examining my self defeating thoughts, I began to see the consequences of my inheritance and what to do about it. Being my own best friend became a reality instead of a cliche.
Talk to strangers and ask for what you want, yes, but feed yourself good food and good thoughts first. Dispute anything you tell yourself where the consequence is depression, anxiety, shame, embarrassment, hurt, guilt, and rage.
Sadness, annoyance, concern, regret, and disappointment when something shitty happens is motivating, however, because something shitty happened so you should feel shitty, and want to do something about it, especially acceptance. Shltty things happen to nice people and nice things happen to shitty people, accept, accept, accept.
What good did I make of my horror of an upbringing? I learned that I could work hard. It is the only way to get anything. Wow