“It’s the human touch in this world that counts” metaphorically, we don’t actually have to do all that touching, okay?

May 10, 2013

Oh life, you are a tricky creature sometimes. i finally watched the final episode of This Emotional Life the other day, this one was about happiness. They talked a lot about the science of happiness and what people think makes them happy as compared to what we can scientifically show actually does make them happy. It’s all fairly new but the one overwhelming truth is that social connections make us happier.


Yes, of course. Relationships with people make us happier. And this doesn’t seem shocking at all to me but social connections are not something i always have an easy time with so it is frustrating sometimes.


We’ll start with romantic relationships. i wholly believe (though i may not have always followed this rule) that romantic relationships should come after a point where you are comfortable with yourself. As RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love someone else? Can I get an A-men?” For me, and i think for a lot of people, there is never going to be a point where i am completely one hundred percent okay with everything about me. And i hope that is the case because i want to be ever changing and evolving as i grow and learn. So really we just need to get to a point where we are generally comfortable with ourselves and love who that general person is. Then there is the, apparently impossible for me, task of finding someone who fits together with you the way that they should. That they should, not they way that you have imagined them or have tried to squeeze them into a space that they don’t belong in. i don’t think i need a relationship to get through life. i don’t think i can’t survive on my own. But, and even more so as i get older, i would really like a relationship. i want to have that one person to share things with and laugh with or cry with. i see most of my friends getting married or in long term committed relationships and the atmosphere changes. It’s hard to be one of the only people without that connection with someone.


Since i have no romantic relationship, we’ll move on to other social connections. There are probably about 47 bajillion levels of connections we can have with people. It could be as simple as smiling at someone as they pass you on the street (as long as it’s not one of those creepy smiles it can brighten both of your days.) We live in a constantly changing technological world so we have “facebook friends,” people that you would probably never call up to have a huge conversation with but you are happy to see their pictures or make brief comments on statuses. And vice versa- but it’s still something because even though those people may not be your closest friends, when they like a picture or status you posted it makes you feel happy or at least connected with another person. i suppose that is both a good and a kind of scary thing. We no longer have to have those face to face connections with people that can forge a deeper relationship- we can exist purely on someone else’s screen as though we were a character in a book.


There are some people we connect with on a deeper level and then the proximity to one another changes. It isn’t that the relationship isn’t “important enough” to keep up with it just isn’t the same. But somehow when you are with that person again it seems like everything is the same. i don’t know if that is our mind or life playing games with us and making us overlook any changes or rifts that might have come up if the relationship were continually pushed through the distance or if it is because sometimes relationships just work like that.


Then we have those people who we can point out little and bigger commonalities with but the connection is deeper than that- something that doesn’t always make sense, it just is. The people that you can talk to about anything or who you can tell your stupid moments to without being judged. These people can make you so angry sometimes but for the most part it won’t last. You’ll talk through it, you’ll yell at each other, and then you laugh about it. For me these are the people i can call in the middle of the night if i need to or who i can call while they are working and have them call me back as soon as they are able if i ask them to. These are the people my heart tends to ache for if i haven’t seen or heard from them.


All of that is stuff you probably already know. Maybe i didn’t need to write any of it out. Where it gets tricky for me is in two places. Making those connections and maintaining them.


When i talk about maintaining them, it isn’t a matter of not wanting to put in the work of a friendship or a relationship. It is more the fact that when my brain starts up with the crazy talk my inclination is to step back. To pull away from all people. Logically it would be easier to get through those times when the depression gets so bad if i had that support (and i do, but i mean if i reached out to not just have the knowledge of support if that makes sense) but i don’t do that. i want to be alone, i want to cut off all communication with the world. i don’t know if this is partially a cultural thing where we tend to be taught, and hugely in my situation, that we need to hide those big (and small) emotions from people. That we need to only show a smile to the world. Maybe some of my friends who live or have lived in different cultures can weigh in on this. It becomes like a tug of war with a tiny part of me realizing that those connections with people are vital to being happier and the majority of me saying fuck that, crawl back into your bed and be alone for the rest of your life.When i’m already struggling to get through each day those tug of wars are exhausting.


Making those connections is terrifying. As we get older it is harder to make friends. i don’t drink or go to bars so that social scene that works for some people is out. But the bigger problem is i am petrified of being hurt, being abandoned, being led on, etc. i don’t want to foolishly think that i have a friendship or connection with someone only to have it thrown in my face. Sometimes i try to avoid those connections even though i can feel in the pit of my stomach that they are there. Sometimes i try to find a middle ground where i can have a surface relationship but avoid going any deeper. And other times i find myself tumbling down the rabbit hole while hoping i don’t end up landing on my face.These connections can be so random. They aren’t always with the people you would expect and that can be a hard mental hurdle to jump.


Maybe i’m getting better at this. i’ve sort of forced myself to talk stuff out with people lately, people who i didn’t know how it would go with. People who while i would like to think i would be fine without, the truth is i would be heartbroken. i know those are good steps. Hard steps but good ones. It’s nice to be able to look back and see that i’ve moved forward.


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