Words of warning and welcome:

This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. Obviously it started out as a blog about my cross-dressing but it has developed a great deal since then. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the New Readers' Page above this and the tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

On Community...

I was thinking about this generally anyway, but a post by Dee made me analyse it more closely and events at church have brought it to something of a head.  Communities are all about support, understanding and caring.  They are the connections that we, as human beings, make with the outside world and the lens through which relationships can be analysed and understood, they allow networks to develop, safety nets to be formed and, ultimately, offer belonging.  In short, communities are the human equivalent to a herd, though there is a vast and important difference between the two.

This would map the sort of thing I'm babbling about.  Humans
are all part of some network or other, and more than one.  There's
a line in Hitler: the Rise of Evil where a journalist explains that
Hitler is not human, but has merely studied them to be appear as
one of them.  That would be me.
In a community there is safety, protection and understanding (though the first and last of these are arguably the same thing).  Communities are so powerful because they feed into a deep seated human need for company and acceptance.  It is why, I feel, nations that have less of a gap between rich and poor have healthier lives than those that are richer but wherein the gap is larger.  It is the primary reason why commenting on blogs is held in higher regard than simply reading them and why places such as Rachel's Haven get the kind of people they do posting there.

So what?  Am I going to wax philosophical about exclusion and social attributes?  I'd like to, that would keep things academic and safe.  But I am facing fears these days.  No, I am going to get personal.

I do not cope well with communities.  To me, deeper relationships mean more things to keep track of.  Let me put it another way, someone you just met is unlikely to take offence if you forget their birthday or don't ask how they are.  Someone you know will take offence at these things.  Someone outside a community will not expect you to know their name or even care what's going on.  If you don't speak to them for ages it is likely never to be an issue.  Indeed, if you inadvertantly upset them or challenge them they are most likely to move on and think nothing of it.  In a community people are more likely to be upset and angered by that sort of thing.

Yeah, here is my tiny impotent rage thing, when I do
conflict this pretty much sums up my effectiveness at
dealing with it and/or getting what I want from it.
Bunnies, shaking fists, skies and stamping feet.
I've already spoken at length about how averse I am to conflict, it therefore follows that I have avoided making long-term friendships and networks for the simple reason that I fear what is likely to happen if I fuck it all up.  To this end I have not kept a community for longer than seven years in my entire life, it has served me well: at about the point where I become aloof and scared I tend to leave a community.  This was roughly how long I was in one group of friends at school, granted I've kept a couple (Tim and Jerry), and roughly as long as I've lived in any one place (six years actually, likely to be beaten in the shit-hole I bought by accident in 2006).  It is, now, as long as I've spent in my current church.  It also roughly approximates how long I stayed in the online version of my University community before I exchanged some words with people and left.  That particular episode has much of me lauding myself and bemoaning attacks, so I shan't dwell on it, but it is what broke that particular community.  Reading back over the board, which is still going, made me wistful but reminded me why I don't post there any more.

I've known about this fear for a long time: I'm crap at birthdays and worse with significant dates for other people.  Throughout my childhood I always remembered to invite people to my birthday and never got invites to anyone else's, as a consequence I stopped remembering when they were so I wouldn't get offended when I wasn't invited (and, yes, I did get offended).  Eventually I stopped telling people when mine was so that by 2006 I got three birthday cards from outside my family and was satisfied.  I'd stopped displaying cards after I left Uni and there was no one else to see them, okay, I was still at Uni but it was a different one and I didn't live with anyone I knew, so about 2002.

Not my church at all, but close enough and you get the idea
about it being one of the oldest buildings in the area but
not one of the oldest in terms of method.  Also, one of the
oldest communities in the UK.
I haven't been to Cell Group, kinda like a house group, at Church for almost a year now, well, I attended a little at Christmastime and sabotaged myself hugely by saying things that were sort of true (I am rubbish with names) and them embellishing them in as unattractive manner as possible.  I tried to make sure that they wouldn't miss me when I inevitably stopped going.  And stop I did.  One of them now has cancer, and his wife is finding this hard with three children, and I have just avoided them completely.  Tilly was told about the condition but I have recieved no official word - part of my avoidance is so that I won't get official word and then have to do something about it.  When Jerry reopened contact for his wedding, given my feelings about him at mine, I actually told Tilly that I would sooner end the friendship than risk going and saying something wrong.  I ended up going, of course, but alone.

At Church I found myself avoiding talking to people.  I got particularly angry with the vicar's wife, whom I know otherwise too, a couple of weeks ago when she started pushing politely for my emotional state at work.  It's not bounced back.  Cancer-man's wife was particularly officious today, understandably, and I walked out of the church rather than deal with it and stayed in the car as long as I could.  Worse, I ended up blaming my son and getting all angry with him - like it was somehow all his fault.  At Rachel's Haven there are plenty of people interested in who I am and who are very friendly and I find myself worrying about posting there too much lest I do become part of that community and, worse, make friends.

It is perhaps telling that I didn't even visit the staff room regularly
until about this time last year (so 2011) despite having been in the
same school since 2003.  Also, even once I did, I remained pretty
quiet until about October/November.
I have worked in my current profession since 2003 and with some of my colleagues since that time.  I have no friends at work.  I have carefully avoided cultivating anything that could be called a friendship.  The closest I got was with my last boss and that crashed and burned pretty spectacularly (I heard word that he had an affair, left his wife and kids and got a motorbike too, I relate this not to crow but to illustrate that his attacking me was probably a symptom of something a whole lot deeper).  It has made me even less enamoured of, well, putting down any roots.  Tilly pointed out at the park today with the children that we have no friends as a couple - she's right, I have assiduously avoided making any new friends since 2001, except Tilly of course.

Thing is, I moan about not being included, about being on the peripheries and not belonging.  I moan when my birthday passes unnoticed even though I make every effort to make sure that it is.  I moan about having no friends and make absolutely no effort to make any or maintain those I make by accident.  I used to be on the welcoming team at church - I was ace at it.  I was rubbish with people who came to church often, I had no idea who they were, but my 'ace-ness' came from baptisms and stuff when we'd have hordes of people who were not from our church.  I always got mentioned by them as being welcoming and friendly, some would go out of their way to say so, but, like I say, if I saw them twice they'd begin to realise that it's all just an act.  It's like my teaching - it's an act.  A front.  It is not me and who I am.  Everything I do is about not being me and having friends would mean that I'd have to be me eventually or, and this is the fear, reveal how much of an insincere bastard I am.

Am I insincere here?  No, I am anonymous.  Ultimately I can walk away whenever I want and no one can trace me.  The fear is gone.  I can be sincere and open and honest and, when the fear comes and it all gets too much, I can walk away.  Yeah, I'm a sincere coward.

6 comments:

  1. You sound like a good friend of mine that I've known for ummmm 25 years now. Tends to build up walls around him, will wear jean jackets with bands like The Exploited, Souxsie and the Banchees, etc .. THEN freak out when certain people acknowledge those bands and start talking to him .. people that would definitely have something in common with him. He lets very few people into his social circle, and would much rather retire to his house and watch bad movies than join a scene.

    Its a sort of bad logic loop that is difficult to break out of. Are you afraid that people won't like you when they find out the real you? Or that you aren't what you initially appear to be?

    Figured I would ask :)

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    1. Well, on one level, that was reassuring, your friend appears a little more extreme than me and clearly has good friends, like yourself.

      And yes, it's a ridiculous bad logic loop. I'm afraid on a number of levels I guess. Afraid that people won't like the 'real me' and afraid that *I* won't like the 'real me'. There's also a nagging fear that there isn't actually a 'real me' and that I am already all I've got - all surface veneer and no plywood.

      In that sense, I'm not sure what I appear to be in the first place in order to not be it - if that even makes any sense at all.

      I do, however, want to thank you for your comment - I honestly wasn't expected any!

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    2. I guess that if you ever truly find out that you aren't very deep .. you are probably in good company! We are who we are, and we have to live with what we are dealt.

      I mean, I've had to live with the fact that I am utterly perfect, and highly delusional. Usually that keeps me balanced enough to function in the "real world" and incredibly charming on the internet!

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    3. We all have crosses to bear, I guess perfection is one of those! Being charming on the internet is quite a skill.

      Delete
  2. Now, I'm horrible at socializing but something I learned since I was a child is a very simple fact: do not care about what others might think. In other words, if you don't like who I am, that's your problem, not mine.

    I found this philosophy always worked well for me. I always had few friends, but in time I built up a group of people I like and that care about me. It never showed more that when I came out with them about my gender identity issues: they all showed support and warmth, nothing more.

    And more than anything: don't be afraid. Real friendship is a rare and powerful thing, it can change youjr life. Always look for it, always try to build bridges with other people. And if you do something wrong, a real friend will forgive and move on...

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    Replies
    1. *nods* The fact that you have learned the lesson and are able to live by it is pretty inspiring. Unfortunately, for a whole hose of boring reasons, I'm not too good at living by the idea that I shouldn't care what others think, but I am working on it.

      As for my own gender issues, whatever they actually are (and I'm aware that I have some), I am fairly certain that none of my friends would be all that supportive. No, that's not fair on them, one or two would be supportive. A vast majority of my friends that I do still have are always willing to forgive and move on - it's me that finds that difficult (forgiving myself, not them).

      Thank you for your comment as well, like I say, I wasn't expecting any feedback!

      Delete

All comments are welcome, I have a thicker skin virtually than I do in real life!