I feel really sad right now. I feel like I really want to be a part of something that includes a lot of people. But social anxiety, my difficulties with relationships, lack of a sense of self and many other factors continually get in the way. All the ways I used to know people (school peers, drugs and alcohol, my religious identity, 12 step meetings, swimming club) are not things that are a part of who I am today.
I have a real yearning to have a friendship group, which is something I lack. It would be so lovely to have a group of guys and gals I can call my friends; a whole bunch of people who I can have fun and mess around with together and feel loved within their company. I want to go to a party and feel like I’m amongst friends and like I belong. But I don’t get invited to parties. I don’t know the right people. I don’t belong in that world any longer.
I have amazing close friends but none of them know each other so it’s rare that there is an opportunity to get everyone together. Whereas when I was younger, I was part of a small friendship group which was part of a large friendship group that consisted of more than 50 people. We were like a huge extended family.
I miss being a teenager and having a busy social life before my social anxiety got too bad age 17 or so. Before some of the trauma that messed me up with men. Before I stopped taking drugs. Before I let go of my religious identity and that group of friends. Before the months and years of treatment during which all those old “friends” moved on with their lives and forgot about me.
I miss those times, not because of the drugs or whatever but because of the people and the togetherness. I used to feel like I was “a part of” things. Not “apart from”. I would go to parties every weekend. I spent all my time with friends. The room would be filled with people and I would slot right it. I’d be drunk and high and in my element, and yes, maybe it was thanks to the substances, but I did genuinely feel whole.
I remember lying on my friend’s roof one time. We were high, staring at the stars in each other’s company, wrapped up our pyjamas and dressing gowns, and huddling like penguins. I belonged. I felt like I owned those moments. Most of all, I thought we would grow old together and stay a part of each other’s lives for ever. I never considered that I would be so distant from them such a short while later. It’s like none of that ever truly existed.
I know I’m looking back through tinted lenses. ‘Euphoric recall’, they call it. I guess I am lonely, and I am naturally remembering a time when I was able to be intimate with a lot of people at the same time, and question whether that is something I can access again. But I know it was the drugs that led to that mentality, and I have to remember the downside of what my life was like during that time.
But it’s hard because I miss it. I miss the people. I miss having people. I miss the days of such disinhibition and intimacy. And I do wonder if it would be worth re-engaging with those people, in that way, if it meant I could feel “a part of” something again. And then I remember the reasons I disengaged, and how far I’ve come in that context in some respects, and I know deep down I’m not going back to that lifestyle. Those years were also some of the worst of my life and I need to be careful not to remember them falsely through a pair of rose-tinted glasses.
The truth is that if you had asked me at the time, I would have told you I was miserable. I have never felt like I have truly belonged anywhere for the right reasons. Or if I did, it only lasted as long as the high. I haven’t been happy or fulfilled or okay within myself for a decade. I was very unwell with my mental illnesses during my teenage years, it just manifested differently. I need to be careful not to confuse the insanity of that time with ‘joy’ or ‘safety’. I was wreckless, self-destructive and delusional. Yes I had people but did I really? If I had really ‘had’ them, they would still be a part of my life now wouldn’t they?
I need to find ways to receive those feelings of fulfilment, closeness, bonding, togetherness, mutuality and social satisfaction without destroying myself in the process.