Feeling Lonely in a Crowded Life

I had a bit of a cry last night. Yes, the same night I posted all about the house, and how it’s all coming along, and how amazing it all is – I was also feeling overwhelmed and filled with anxiety. I’m not exactly sure what the cry was about, though when I read Kayla Lords post “All Alone in a Crowded Room” a few minutes ago, I felt myself tearing up again, and feeling both (vicariously) lonely for her, and lonely and bereft myself, though I have no reason to feel that way. I’m guessing, though, that both emotional outbursts are related – not in reaction to what is actually going on in my life, but perhaps a reaction to the anxiety over changes and adjustments to everything new going on.

Changes – even good ones – cause stress, and I am feeling a lot of it. And even though I am often the catalyst for changes in our lives, I am also the one that seems to pay the highest emotional toll when dealing with them (perhaps because I am the instigator?)

Anyway. I could have written Kayla’s post myself, and have written similarly before about my own struggles with being an introvert. Funny, it is only in the past few months that I have really paid attention to what it means to be an introvert, or even recognized that I am one, and how that has affected me so many times in the past. I used to just feel that I sucked as a human being, at social interaction, which everyone else seemed to be able to manage easily. Meaning it was something I could and should be able to do just as well as anyone else, but obviously I am unskilled and inept and therefore inferior to the rest of the human race because it is so fucking hard for me to do.

Turns out that’s (probably) not true.
Turns out I may just be wired this way.
I can stop beating myself up now, right?

I do think Kayla need not apologize for writing the post, saying it’s not “educational” or “sexy” though. First of all, we all know how I feel about the blogs I read and why I read them . IMO, a blogger should write whatever the hell they want, and it is those bloggers that do share more of themselves in their blogs that I prefer to read. So I applaud her for sharing this insight into her psyche, and her willingness to share more of herself than just the sexy stuff. But more than that, I do feel that what she writes has “educational” value.

Let me share with you my own, somewhat-similar, introvert-at-a-munch story.

When I first started exploring kink, after I had been “seeing” an online Dom for a few months, he encouraged me to get out into the real world and meet other kinksters in the flesh. Yes, he may have been a cheating married man, but I can’t fault him for being a good influence on me and truly wanting the best for me. (Besides which, I was a cheating married woman, so I have no moral high horse to stand – er, sit – on.) Unfortunately my first experience with real-world kinksters was so bad it almost kept me from ever dipping my toes into real-life kink again.

He helped me pick an “open denominational” munch to attend. Our local scene has several lifestyle groups, one of which is an invitation-only membership, but once a month they have an “open” munch, so people can meet them and see what the group is like (and I assume give them fresh “meat” to invite to join their group.) I showed up at the bar, nervous as hell, not just because it was a munch, but because I’d never been to a bar alone before, either. I walked in and looked around…

And saw miscellaneous groups of people sitting around talking, laughing, drinking and eating.

No sign of the “group” that was supposed to be there – or if they were there, I couldn’t tell who they were. No one approached me or even made eye contact. I nervously made my way to the bar, sat at a table, ordered a drink…and waited for some indication of who might be members of the group. I sat for ninety minutes, nursing my drink and looking around, and no one ever spoke to me. I had emailed the organizer that I would be there, what I looked like, given a name and even told them what I would be wearing – but no one ever greeted me or said a word to me. It was humiliating (it felt like rejection and failure on my part) and embarrassing, and I left feeling shaky and upset – and disinclined to ever venture out into the “real world” again.

Now imagine if this all had happened after I had started blogging. Imagine if I had stumbled across Kayla’s post after – or before! – attending that munch. Things might have turned out much different. I might have realized that there were probably others there just like me, anxious and shy and maybe just waiting for someone to say hello. I might have struck up a convo with that single person sitting on the other side of the bar, even if they weren’t with the group. I might not have left, fighting back tears of frustration and embarrassment, hating myself for being so inept, and the organizers for not helping a newbie. Or, if I read it after, I might have not beaten myself up so hard about it (and the organizers.) I didn’t go to another munch for two years after that (vowing I never would, if that was what munches were like and what that particular group was like.) It also tainted my opinion of that group so bad that I have never wanted to be a member of them, and even avoided their yearly events (in large part) because of the bad taste the experience had left in my mouth.

“Educational” blogging is not always the kind that starts out, “How to…(fill in the blank.)” Sometimes the most important thing we learn from another blogger’s writing is that, “Hey, there are other people out there like me.” I know that when I first wrote about my own struggles with shyness I received a half dozen emails and comments from others who felt the same way, and thanked me for writing about it and sharing my own experiences.

So yes, Kayla, if you are reading this – your post is appropriate on a “sex blog,” and important, and I am absolutely certain that there will be others who relate to it and find it helpful. I’m glad you wrote it.

And now that I have written all this out, I am recognizing that some of my weekend angst could very well be related to these same feelings. I had a work holiday party Friday night. The culture here is very different than my old workplace, where I was left alone most of the time, and never required to take part any more than I wanted/felt comfortable with. Here, participation is “strongly encouraged” (read: in most cases, required.) Many times I am grateful for that, because it has forces me to stretch myself socially and professionally. But other times it is exhausting, and then, when something happens like what happened at the office party, it’s even worse. See, my coworker is a true extrovert. He loves holiday parties. Work, family, friends, you name it. And he doesn’t understand people that don’t. I was at my two-hour patience limit with small talk and cocktail hour chit-chat, when I noticed the crowd thinning. I turned to my coworker, breathing a sigh of relief.

“So when is it okay to cut out of here?” I asked, assuming he felt the same way, especially as he is a 30-year veteran of these things. (The party technically still had two more hours to go, but even my boss had left a half hour previously.) He looked shocked that I wanted to leave, and (very sanctimoniously, I thought) reminded me that we were technically “on-the-clock” for the entire time of the party.

“Follow your conscience,” he sniffed. Besides, he continued, why would I want to leave? This was great fun, wasn’t it, all our “friends,” free booze and food…?

I felt embarrassed and a little bit “taken to task” by him (follow my “conscience”?!?) and like there must be something wrong with me for not wanting to stay. But these people were my coworkers, not my “friends” and I’d had a date I had to cancel out of with an actual friend to be there – and dammit, how much is there to say to a bunch of strangers anyway?? After a week of lunches with coworkers and a work charity event, I was peopled out, overwhelmed and depleted. I went home (to the new house, where I knew I’d be alone) crawled into bed, felt lonely and overwhelmed and yet unable and unwilling to call either Ad or W, had a good anxiety cry and fell sound asleep for about three hours.

It’s a catch-22 that while I need quiet time to recharge, though, being alone for too long makes me depressed. I knew I was on the edge of that when I woke, so I called W and he came over to stay the night with me, which was good.

It’s been a big month, with lots of social interaction and too many changes to count, and I am still feeling a bit wrung out and fragile. Tears seem on the verge frequently, and I haven’t even been able to turn to kink to help me recharge and find my balance.

But that’s a post for another day.

Comments

  1. Kayla Lords

    Oh honey!! (((((HUGS)))))

    If I helped you in any way, no matter how small, I am happy.

    I’m (usually) a happy introvert. Now that I work from home, I’m practically a hermit (and I’m okay with that, lol). But I’ve also worked in situations where I had to network and socialize. And yes, it is absolutely exhausting.

    I hate that you had that experience with your first munch. And thank you for the perspective – maybe my little bit of angst and sadness will help someone else in the future.

    ((((HUGS))))

    Reply
    1. Jade

      Thanks, Kayla! I suppose this work culture is as much an adjustment as anything else. I never realized how much my previous job suited my “hermitness” until I came here. And while I do think this culture is good in many ways for me, I also recognize that I need to make healthy choices and at times not try to fit in. It IS okay to say “no” sometimes. :-)

      Reply
  2. Cammies on the Floor

    I hate going to a munch alone (not often as I’m married, but sometimes as he isn’t always around). I’m so anxious and I’ve sat at a bar for a long time hoping someone would come get me after I’ve posted what I look like and what I’m wearing. Fortunately, they did, but it took awhile, and that was awful. To sit there for ninety minutes would have been hell.

    This holiday year is bad for me emotionally, and I need to be aware of my feelings and forgive myself for needing to release them. It sounds as though you’re understanding and accepting your own emotions, I certainly hope so- they’re valid.

    Reply
    1. Jade Post author

      I’m sorry you’re having a rough time this holiday season. If I was near I’d give you a big hug. :-) Your comment made me smile though, and hopefully the reason will make you smile too. You made me remember a certain meet’n’greet a couple years ago – where I met you, your sister and your husband (and I *think* a friend of his?) before Eroticon. You were sitting at the bar and I was standing there feeling a little lost, and you spoke up and said something to me and introduced yourself. Just that small gesture made my night, to be honest, because it helped me relax and feel a part of things. So often I know I am feeling left out because I leave *myself* out. So thank you for helping alleviate that.

      Reply

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