Emma channels Stuart Smalley

In the sixth grade, I first began to suffer from depression. It was never treated, and I suffered terribly from a complete loss of confidence in myself. I felt completely isolated and hated by everyone, and I lost all confidence in my ability to make friends.

To a certain extent, I never fully recovered from this experience. I am still afraid of being abandoned by my friends, and I am convinced that I do not fully fit in with people. I am starting to realize that, no matter how many friends I have, it will never be enough.

Here’s what I mean. I have seen friends for the last four weekends in a row. I sent out a “Happy Thanksgiving!” text message to 14 friends and 10 of them responded in kind. And I am still convinced that no one likes me. I still feel lonely.

Now, a part of this is the fact that I am consciously distancing myself from a friend of mine at this point. We had been growing apart for a few years, but I don’t feel that I can associate with her at this point and time. I have changed, and I don’t know if our friendship could survive those changed. I don’t know that she could accept these changes, and even if she could, I know that most of her friends would reject them outright.

At the same time, another friend seems to be distancing herself from me. I don’t know exactly why; I suspect that it has less to do with me and more to do with something that is going on in her life at this point. I do not want to pry too much; I hope that she would feel comfortable reaching out to me, but at the same time I do not want to force her to do so. This change makes me feel insecure and guilty about my decision about my other friend. (Should I stay friends with her to keep from hurting her? Am I crazy to distance myself from her if I am going to lose other friends?)

And yet, I don’t think that I can ever console myself with my number of friends. No matter how many friends I “collect,” I will never feel whole.

I will never feel whole because other people cannot make me feel whole, or “enough.” Only I can do that.

I’ve known that in other ways. In college, I posted this as my Away Message on AIM. “The most important day in a girl’s life is the day that she looks in the mirror and decides she is ugly. She will never look at herself the same way again.” One of my friends (a man) responded, “That is the saddest thing I have ever read.” I know what he meant, but for me, it was not sad. It was empowering. We believe that we are ugly because we decide that we are ugly; we believe that we are pretty because we decide that we are pretty. We have that power. I put that up there to challenge the way that I think about these things.

It must be the same way with friends. My friends cannot make me feel confident, or liked (to some extent) or whatever. Much of that comes down to me, and my attitude, and not listening to the negativity. (I love Pink’s lyrics about this, “Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead!”) I wish it was that easy, but I have to try. I know that my loneliness is tied to my insecurity. I am afraid to express myself and what I actually feel, and as a result of that, I feel insecure. Because I feel insecure, I feel lonely. I “live in my head,” instead of living in the moment. That’s very dangerous.

I am going to resolve for this coming week to try to be kind to myself, not to give into the negativity, because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, an doggone it, people like me!

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