So, where to start. How to say it. Be warned. This is going to be a miserable journey into self hatred and despair.
I am getting better at life these days, or at least I think I am, in that I can step back from things a little and see my own reactions, and realise they are part of the ADHD. This is vital for me because I have now entered what I refer to as ‘a grey phase’. And I need to dig myself out of it. I am hoping my new found self awareness will help. So here is the story of what’s been happening and here is my attempt to make sense of it all.
I promised myself I would stop looking for a partner because all it does is bring me pain. My rational mind tells me I am not cut out for relationships, that I should be on my own, and be like those people who choose it and are content with it. Like my fellow ADHDer Emma Watson, I should be ‘self partnered’.
But my heart cries out for that person, that person who is a shoulder to cry on, that person who appreciates me for who I am, my soulmate, a person to go out to discover and experience things with, but a person also to come home to and snuggle with. But I suspect I can’t ever have that. In the words of Lizzie Bennet to Jane “until I have your goodness I cannot have your happiness”. I am too complicated and emotional and talkative and intense and I suspect that I am not only unlovable but probably unlikeable too.
I stopped online dating because it’s for the best. Then one evening, drinking wine on my own and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to start it again. And at first it was quite encouraging. I got ‘chatting’ to a couple of guys. Both seemed lovely. Interesting, intelligent, chatty, and made it clear on their profiles that they were looking for something serious rather than just a fling. One guy I was going to meet with but then he said a few things about his political views that really jarred. I tried to let it go, told myself it didn’t matter in light of all the good things about him. But it festered, and we disagreed more, and it became clear this was not going to work. So we broke it off before we reached the date stage. It was disappointing but I am fine about it as it was genuinely for the best.
Then there was the other guy. His profile was amazing. Literate, intelligent, witty. Politically and philosophically he is one of the closest matches to myself I have ever encountered. He likes reading, and he loves rock music. We met up, and had three amazing hours in a pub in Bristol talking about music and films and life, having a laugh, and the time passed so quickly. At the end of the date he kissed me and said how amazing the date was. We WhatsApped over the next week, but he said he was busy, couldn’t arrange time for another date. He didn’t WhatsApp me nearly as much as I WhatsApped him. Then we were due to meet today after work. He seemed keen, we had lots of banter, talked about where we might go, all seemed normal. Then he said he didn’t feel too well, and could we reschedule, so I just said to him that’s a shame but I totally understand if he’s ill. But the doubts festered. And then it came, right in the middle of an epically shit day at work. He sent me a message saying it was ‘too intense’ and we are looking for different things and it won;t work out.
I was devastated, which is ridiculous, as we only went on one date, and he wasn’t even that nice looking! But my God I cried. And I am crying again now writing it. And I am angry with myself for being so upset. I can look back now and see that he was nothing special. But also I can see that he represented a lot of hope for me. That I crave people with those similar views and tastes to me. I was trying to make him the answer to all that. I was too needy. And I smothered him. So that is one of my self reflections for today. BUT also this, I wasn’t WhatsApping him to an unreasonable degree (a couple of days I definitely WhatsApped my dad more) and the level of engagement I was requiring was not an unreasonable ask. He did pretty much acknowledge this, and that he was the let down. So I guess there are two narratives here to explain it, and both are true. I know I have to move on from it and I will but, wow, the heartache, it is a physical pain.
This has brought me to a new realisation and it is huge. It’s this: I AM LONELY.
I am lonely, and I have no close friends. When I have a day like to day, and I go through thoughts and emotions like I just did, I have nobody to confide in. I am on my own. And I now suspect this is why I started the blog.
I am lonely, and so I seek a life partner to fix this problem, but that makes me too needy and clingy. Or maybe it does, but maybe not. There are plenty of people who have that ‘best friend’ partner and it seems to work. All the answers in one person. Magic.
Now, I like people, I am not shy around people, I can make connections and build rapport easily. I have a lot of what I would call ‘surface friends’, people just above the level of ‘acquaintance’. Mums who bring their kids round on a playdate and we have a cup of tea and a chat. They are all really nice people, but I wouldn’t want them to get a glimpse of what I am really like so I keep them at a distance. My birthday is coming up and I thought fleetingly that I would invite some of them out for drinks, but then I decided not to because they probably would be too busy to come, or I might say a wrong thing or talk too much.
I have got some really lovely, proper friends. People I have a deep connection with and who I feel do appreciate me for who I am. One of them is my lovely friend in Birmingham. But she doesn’t live near me so I can’t just pop round to her house for a cuppa. Also, she is super confident and gives my relationship woes short shrift because I think she sees me selling myself short all the time and finds it frustrating. And she now has many many friends local to her who are those kind of friends for her. And that’s fine, and normal, but I wonder how she managed it. I have another lovely friend and he lives up in Sheffield. I really should call him but I haven’t been in touch for so long.
And this brings me to the other moment of self realisation. That I am crap at keeping friendships going. Partly it’s an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ thing. If I don’t constantly see someone or keep in touch with them (WhatsApp, phone calls etc.) then they pretty much cease to exist. I had never noticed this before until I read someone on an ADHD forum write about it and I was like “oh my God, yes!” Someone has to have been in my life for a very long time for them to transcend that point and be still in constant existence for me. My parents are probably the only people that fit this bill.
A lot of the great friendships I am thinking about go back to my uni days but there have been one or two colleagues since. I can have these super friendships with these wonderful people, where we sit and chat for hours, where we share our thoughts and fears, or just muck around and have a laugh, and we are important to each other. Then one of us (usually me) moves to a different town, and we stay in touch a bit, but not much, so then I forget about them pretty much, because they are not right in front of me. Then I get to moments like now where I realise what I had, and what I’ve lost, and I grieve a little, and then I wonder where on earth I am going to find such friendships again now that I have no spare time. Also, most jobs I’ve had have brought up some really wonderful friendships with truly lovely people, but then I have left the job, and lost the friendship.
Moving house a lot + changing job a lot + forgetting about people when they are not nearby = no lasting friendships.
Having fantastic chat and banter with colleagues but then never having the courage or time to pursue a friendship beyond work =many opportunities missed.
Fear of rejection + fear of judgement about my parenting + not much spare time = opportunities for local friendships missed.
Yeah, my life is a shitshow and it’s all of my own making.
Edit to add: I finally caved in and spoke to an actual human about all the above. My lovely mum. She was very sympathetic, as she is my lovely mum, and acknowledged she has experienced some of the same due to moving around over the years but then she had to admit that it didn’t matter a great deal because she has a best friend with her. My dad. And that brings me full circle to the thing that broke my heart today.
AND THE EXTRA KICK IN THE TEETH: There’s the hatred I feel for myself being so self indulgent about it all. I have two wonderful kids who are growing up right in front of me, and I feel I should drink it in, and I should cherish them, and I should appreciate them more than I do. And I feel hatred that I am so winy and self indulgent when the world is full of suffering and greed, we’re in an era of climate chaos of our own making, and there is so much that should be fought, so much that is more important than my woes. I know this, and I fully acknowledge it, but it doesn’t make the pain go away. And the sense that I shouldn’t be feeling this way makes it worse.
I have also since read this wonderful update from Niraj, who is much younger than me but experiencing some of the same friendship drift.