Learning to Socialize

I have struggled my entire life to socialize. At age 10, my youngest sister and I moved into a foster home together. A home in a small town on the border of North Dakota and Minnesota. All of my sibling moved away from our biological parents. But something different happened with me. I do not know what it was, but I never had to go outside and I spent my teen years locked away in the basement watching movies, playing video games and wishing I were more like the other people in my biological family. My family with the exception of my biological father were social. My siblings, my mother, my cousins everybody related to my mom’s side of the family were the social type. Whenever I spent time with them it seemed like they knew everybody in town. My foster-father was the same way and I wished I were like them. However, I was always awkward and couldn’t break out of the rut. I thought it was something people just understood.
In 2008, prior to my biological fathers death, the only time I spent with other people was in class or the library when working on a group project. I had alienated the few friends I had two years earlier and I did not want to die alone in my living room and it be over a week before somebody found me, as my biological father. While settling my father’s estate, I seemed to get worse and I decided to seek help in therapy. It has been a long and difficult journey but worth every minute.
I’ve learned a lot about meeting people, how to treat people and how to put myself out there I learned what I needed to accomplish in order to be that social person. Most importantly, how to be myself. The one I desired to be my entire life. However every time I learned how to implement a skill my entire life fell apart. Also, each time I had to read a book take a class or see somebody else’s transformation in order for me to understand what I was missing and begin working on a new skill. Each skill had to be learned multiple times. I had to learn in a way that allowed me to deal with whatever made my life fall apart because what I mean by fall apart is I would experience some emotional pain. The pain associated with discrimination, loosing my job or losing a family member and these things would cause me to close back in on myself cause me revert to the person I was. A person I can only describe as a hermit.
I tell you this not to discourage you but to instead encourage you. Do not give up. These collective skills are not something that can be learn in a weekend, a semester or they are not even something that can be learned in the classroom. A classroom, book or seminar can point out what is missing. What a person can change, but the skill is something to practice in everyday life. I have decided to share what I learned over the last six years: how to socialize, how to be a happier person, and how to live the life you want. Related and intertwined these things cannot exist without each other, but each need to be worked on individually.
In an earlier post, I mentioned I am working on a larger project. After nearly a month, I realized this project that started out as a simple description that a person can quickly read take something from and magically fix themselves, is not possible. The other day I started to change my scope. And have not even finished my outline but I need to begin to post because it just keeps growing. I can easily divide what I have into at least five posts. An outline I think will become a book. How often I will post I am not sure, but my goal is regularly and will start with that brief description I started attempting.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: My Family is like a herd of Elephants!

Family  is the weekly photo challenge. A few weeks ago I watched a nature documentary, one of the scenes in the movie is of a herd of elephants that are dying of thirst. Among them are calves having a hard time keeping up. Despite the danger the mothers slow down risking getting lost and their own lives to ensure the safety of their young.

Family

Image provided by: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net link to site on bottom of page.

This idea of family is very personal because a little over a year ago one of my sisters moved across the country. She spent a year living here. It was one of the more amazing things people have done for me. She and her boyfriend move from northern California to Minnesota. This was not something I asked for and when it happened I did not appreciate it. No matter how cliché it is to say it was not until they were packing to leave that I began to understand.

The last few years have been kind of hard for me. After my father’s death the pain of living as somebody I didn’t identify with became too difficult but I hated myself so much I believed my family would not accept me as a woman. I moved to a place I would not see any family or friends that might ask about family. This was hard because before we would talk multiple times per week. Considering how we separated when growing up (foster homes) we had good relationships something we worked hard to maintain. Since I have slowly drifted. I love them but have begun to find it difficult to re-implement them into my life. I was so ready for them to abandon me when they didn’t I automatically did it to them.

My sister quit a job she loved packed up her boyfriend, who still needed to finish grad school and moved across the country for me. Why? I still ask myself this question. But the answer is: To help me to catch up. To give me a chance. To show me how much my family cares about me. This is the first time I’ve acknowledged it outside my head.  Thank you.

Image: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net