Community Building… Day 13

I struggle with relationships.

I have been hurt, Betrayed, Lied to and Manipulated. Any terrible word you can associate with relationships I have experienced it. I know that’s not uncommon but the thing is I don’t know how to handle it. I used to. I used to be able to take that hurt and push it aside. Move on from the pain. But that was when I had support. When I wasn’t going through this life alone. I was part of a family.

I miss that.

I miss camaraderie. I miss talking to someone and having them know me and me know them. I miss having private jokes with someone. I miss being able to laugh with someone and just enjoy laughing.

I miss feeling included.

So I tried to make my own community of people I could trust and talk to. I failed. People betrayed me. They lied to me, manipulated me for their own purposes. It sounds very dramatic but it’s nothing every other human being hasn’t experienced.

But it hurt so much.

And then I had enough and I just stopped talking. I thought there was no point in speaking because there was no one listening.  I can go six days every week without talking. If I miss my weekly religious meeting I can go 14 days straight without having a meaningful conversation. (I don’t count, “How are you?” no one who ever asks that’s question really cares about the response. )

I tried to talk.

I would call friends on the phone. I would go to places where I could meet strangers (that sounds so creepy) and chit chat. I went out of my way to be around people. But my friends had their own very involved lives and for someone reason I no longer fit in them. And strangers are, well, strangers.

So then I stopped talking.

And I have not been able to start again.

Writing is by nature a solitary activity. People try to make it more inclusive of others.  Writing groups and write-ins surround you with other bodies but when you think about it  it is still you and a keyboard (or pen and paper, if you prefer).

But I am not a solitary person. Not truly.  

I am now from necessity. But I crave human interaction. I live in a busy apartment building so I can hear people moving around me, so I can listen to families interacting and feel a part of conversations even though we are separated by many doors and walls.

But I don’t want to do this freelance journey alone.

In fact, I am doing it so I can participate more in spiritual activities and spend more time with fellow believers. I am leaving my job not because I want to make a fortune but because I want to spend time with those I should be close to but I can’t seem to move beyond. “hi, how are you?”

And I know that to be successful in my new career choice I need to be able to rely on others. I will need advice and guidance and I need to be able to trust the information I get. I will need to network and conference.

The very thought of talking to someone new terrifies me. I get sick thinking about talking to people I know and see regularly. The thought of approaching strangers makes me want to be ill.

But I have to do it. So this week I made a plan.

I signed up for a daylong conference. It was cheap and local, and most importantly, no one I know will be there and I didn’t invite anyone to go with me. I could have begged a friend to go with me but I want to go into a room and make a friend. I yearn to return to the me who was able to go into any space and make friends and talk to everyone. I want to get back to that person.

I made a commitment to interact more via social media. So that’s not real talking but to me it is. Social anxiety affects me the same whether we are in person or online. I belong to some great communities but I do not actively participate. I am a very enthusiastic lurker.  But for  the next month I will interact five minutes per day with others through my twitter and instagram.

I think those are good starts. Forced interaction hopefully will become more comfortable. And it will help me create the community I will need to make freelancing successful.

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