I’ve been making progress in cultivating community. From going to networking conferences, to attending meet ups, to cultivating new friendships, I’ve been taking risks and pushing past my familiar solitary comfort zone. It’s such a breath of fresh air in my life that I do not miss my former ways. I thought it would be harder but I guess I’ve grown enough that it just suits me better now. Don’t get me wrong, I would not classify myself as a social butterfly, but I now envision myself past the baby steps of building social connections. This is the culmination of a lot of internal work and growth.
Key to being open to reach out to others was working on my self advocacy. When I truly placed my well being at the top of my own list and knew I would not tolerate bullying, abuses or any form of ill treatment, I lost a lot of fear around placing myself in social settings. This fear of being trapped with meanies stems in large part to having been raised with bullying family members who made my life miserable with their attacks, sabotage and abuse. My family just expected me to suck it up; the bullying sister and verbally abusive father always got away without repercussions. I was not believed or was silenced when I did complain to others so I learned that being alone was the safest situation. Its taken half a century, both my parents to have died and lots of therapy before I could trust myself not to tolerate assholes anymore. Now a days, I do not associate with people who have not/do not treat me well and if I find myself in a situation that is not good for me, I will speak up and remedy it or take myself out of it.
Another area that affects my sociability is internalized shame; so I have been digging to unearth these roots. My rudimentary understanding of shame is that it generates feelings of unworthiness. And yes, I have often held myself back from “joining in” with social groups because I have somehow felt not good enough. Not good enough to warrant attention. Not good enough to belong to popular social groups. Not good enough to be desired as a friend. I am still in the early stages of exploring this area. I suspect internalized shame has something to do with my lack of a significant other in my life and for my poor dating history with men.
But these days, aside from a non-primary, non monogamous lover, I am not focussed on finding a paramour but rather on cultivating friendships. While I fantasize about finding my soul mate, my life partner, I am busy creating a life that will inspire me with and without a partner. I get to play at being in high school, at college all over again. Trying out new ventures, meeting new people and exposing myself to different things. My social efforts are tentative and at times awkward but they are proceeding, steady as the tortoise.