Scottish Daily Mail
Why don’t I have any real friends?
AlThOugh I know each person’s problem is unique, this week I’ve chosen two letters about the yearning for friendship — because it is an issue that affects many people. The long months of lockdown will have made the sense of isolation so much worse for those without friends to ‘meet’ on Facetime or Zoom or through regular emails and phone calls.
When you can go out to the shops/a museum/an attraction at least you can see friendly faces and maybe feel a part of the world. (Although, of course, that can also make your loneliness worse).
To both of you, gaby and June, I just offer some sympathy and remind you that you will be expressing the feelings of others, too. Why does nobody love me? It is a cry to make the heavens weep. how can a person develop the gift of friendship? Some people just have it — a natural enthusiasm for an interest in other people and a willingness to put themselves out to arrange meet-ups, treats and so on. My daughter is one of those — but I’ve also known the quiet, reticent ones who find the process hard.
Sometimes this is because of intense self-consciousness: they can’t quite believe anyone will really show interest in them and become so convinced they are unworthy they have no emotional energy left to think about other people. Are you like that, gaby? You seem to think friendship should be tested, tested, tested. And when your friends are found wanting it doesn’t cross your mind they might simply have been busy or preoccupied with family problems or just forgetful. Why do you bother?
Why not just accept that you may have to be the one to be pro-active and so just get on with your life — without the doses of self-pity? Why not pride yourself on your generous, willing attentions to other people — instead of moping?
One thing is sure in this life — if you pull the duvet over your own head and withdraw, there is no reason why other people should want to be made miserable in your company. Tough? Yes, because so is life.
But what happens if an unwillingness to get close to other people is the result of a deep-seated psychic wound?
June’s very short email reveals hers towards the end — an abusive mother. And this, June, makes sense to me — because if you are hurt by the one person from whom you have the right to expect love and care, it’s not surprising that you withdraw from human contact which might inflict pain, too.
Yet you do have family members and the place to start would be right there. Were you to develop a new habit of making regular contact with your siblings and showing interest in their lives, you might find this reciprocated.
And that could herald a major shift, leading who knows where?