Okay, I’m going to get a little personal for a second, because I sometimes get tired explaining things to people, especially those who don’t know me well and don’t really understand why I may distance myself from letting them get to know me.
I have a hard time making connections with people, emotionally and physically. There, I said it. There are a lot of reasons for it, and I’m definitely going to talk about it, because I think it’s really important to have that kind of dialogue, but keep in mind, that what may seem huge to me, may not be for you. Who knows, maybe someone will take what I’m writing, and they’re just going to completely understand what I go through, what I went through and what I will continue to go through. It would be awesome to know that I’m not alone in my experiences.
I feel like there are a huge collection of reasons why I find it hard to connect with others, let alone let them into my life, my space, and my heart. The many reasons are all interconnected and even are the results of situations that I’ve been in where I was incredibly uncomfortable with people. Fear and insecurities are some of the reasons and they play a huge factor. I worry that things that happened with others in the past will be repeated. Now, to be fair, I don’t think that everyone who ‘inserts themselves’ into my life will be like those who have caused me some issues. I mostly go on how someone makes me feel on initial meeting, the vibe I get from them, and then what I’m getting after the second and third time I’ve met them. I have also learned that sometimes people give great first, second and third impressions and then turn out to make me really uncomfortable later on.
People who get to know me, quickly learn that I’m a very guarded person. When I think about it, I feel like I have three walls up, with four different areas. It could almost be described how an old city was built. There’s the city walls, and outside of them are where the people who I meet as acquaintances are or the people who have given me the wrong vibe on our first meeting. Usually that is where the strange guys who try to insert themselves into my life are. I am usually relatively pleasant to you at this stage, unless I feel like you otherwise don’t deserve it.
Then there is the inside the gates, into the city where people like my colleagues, classmates and people I talk to on a regular basis reside. This place is important, and because it’s a ‘large city’ there are lots of people there who I really like interacting with, but they don’t usually get to the next area.
That next area I would consider to be the castle where people that I consider safe to generally be myself around are, and they are really important to me. They’re the people that I selectively choose to let see the sides of me that not everyone gets to see. It’s usually reserved for people who I am close with, who I can talk about almost anything with, almost. It is also the place where, if I’m in a relationship with someone, they will slowly get to, but it doesn’t happen overnight. This is a place that you have to be pretty special to get to, and not many get there because I need to be relatively comfortable with you, can trust you, and I really have to feel safe enough that I can share this space with you.
Finally, there is the tallest tower of the castle, and this place is almost desolate, because this is where my heart is kept. Aside from my close family, there are only two other residents there, and they’re my best friends. Eventually, when I feel that it’s right, there will be someone who I’ll fall in love with who will make a home there, I hope. This place is incredibly special, it is where I can be myself with you one hundred percent, it’s where I tell you my secrets, the little things that could break me, and so it has to be well protected.
Now that there is some understanding how I work, there is a why I’m like this. I will say this again, not everyone who comes into my life will I treat or feel like they belong outside of the gates, but this is why I’m cautious.
Imagine an eighteen year old me, fresh out of high school, naive and quiet. The way I viewed myself wasn’t very high. I had low self-esteem and I was definitely not used to attention from those of the male species. So, there I am, eighteen, in the real world for the first time, with my first customer service job, and wouldn’t you know, I’m gaining attention from guys that I just didn’t get in high school. There were a few that struck my fancy, and some that made me uncomfortable. The story I’m about to tell is one about a guy who made me feel a little uneasy in the beginning, but no little red flags went off in my head. Ah, I was young, I was stupid.
I will call him John* for now. I met John while I was working at my first job which was in a food establishment. I didn’t meet him while I was in the store, but rather it was in the lounge to the company my father worked for. I used to wait there for my father when I would get off work so we could go home together. I met a lot of incredibly awesome, life long friends there, but I also met people like John. It started out fairly normally, where when he first introduced himself he seemed really nice. I felt a little uneasy, but I just chalked that up to the fact that I wasn’t used to guys paying attention to me. (Here’s a little secret, I’m still not used to it.) After a couple times talking, he asked me for my cell phone number, and even though I felt uncomfortable, I didn’t know how to properly say, ‘no’ without being really rude. Silly me, I gave him my number, and that was the start of an on again/off again year long harassment.
It started off quite innocently at first, just talking about books, work, life, and the things you’d learn about a new friend. Quickly though, he started to ask me to grab lunch, which I did once, because, hey, friends. Then when I felt that my discomfort with him wasn’t going away, I decided that I wouldn’t be rude, but I was not going to grab lunch with him anymore, and limit my conversations with him. It then started to be his confessions of his feelings, which I tried to make clear that I was uninterested.
He would continue to ask me to spend time with him in and outside of the work world. He would ask me to get a fake ID (cause, y’know, not legal to drink in bars at eighteen) so I could go out drinking with him and his guy friends. I declined. It had gotten to the point where I desperately needed to change my number, and I did, and me being smart for once, I told him that I was getting my phone disconnected. I admit, I lied a little, all in the case of my safety. Well, wouldn’t you know it, he didn’t like that I was getting my phone ‘disconnected’ very much and asked for reasons. I told him that I didn’t want to spend the 25$ a month for just texting a few people.
This is when he started to become angrily aggressive with me. This was when I started to get scared for my safety and being alone in a room with him, ever, even if it was a lounge to a business that had people coming in and out of all the time. He put his face in my face angrily and asked, “Am I not worth the 25$ a month to text me?” This is when I knew he was a slightly crazy person, because, I made it clear that I wasn’t interested and he was acting as if we were some sort of item. Let me tell you, we weren’t and there would have been no way that I would have chose him after experiencing this.
Now it would be awesome if this is where this little story ended, but sadly, it does not. After a while of having my phone ‘disconnected’, I decided that it was in my best interests to either a) rarely go into the lounge of this company alone, (I lucked out with some pretty awesome friends that I met through there that would sit with me for a little bit,) and b) if I did go there by myself, to hide in a corner where he couldn’t see me from the door.
I remember this one day, going up there by myself, a little late getting off work, so I figured he’d have left (cause he figured out my schedule…) and was about to go to my hiding spot. Guess who was sitting there, looking quite angry? Why wouldn’t you know, it was John. Every instinct I had told me to leave, and I would have but he saw me and said, “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you.” Not that I had to explain myself to him, but I told him that I happened to get off work a little late. After that incident, I decided to change my routine, make it harder for him, and I often didn’t even go up to the lounge for months.
After some time went by, I figured it might be safe for my return, but only in small doses. He caught me there a few times, and found out that my nineteenth birthday was coming up. Three separate days he asked me out (to go to the beach with him, to go to the buskers with him and to go to the Ale House with him) and each time I said, “no.” I slowly drifted in and out of the lounge, not making a pattern out of it, and eventually I met one of the nicest guys I have had the opportunity to meet.
Funny enough, he worked on the same project as John, and I promise, it was not intended to work that way. I’ll call him Ben* for this story. Ben and I started to get to know each other as friends, which was really nice for a change, no creepy weirdness that I experienced with John. Eventually he decided to ask me out, and I said, “yes.” because he didn’t make me feel uncomfortable, unsafe or weird around him and I liked him. When John found out, it was as if he suddenly hated his new co-worker which I felt terrible about. John would be down right rude to Ben on a regular basis, and in front of me no less. (Cause that makes a man a man, right?) Eventually things ended between Ben and I, but on good terms. When John found out, he made fun of, belittled and laughed in the face of Ben, which made me pretty mad. John made assumptions on the relationship Ben and I had, which weren’t true, it was that we just weren’t meant for each other.
I had to leave my job for a while because of many reasons, but one of them being John and how he’d make me feel unsafe in places I should have felt safe. During my time away, still in occasional communication with Ben, I found out that the whole time that John was bothering and harassing me, he had a serious girlfriend back home. I was mad that he would do anything like what he was trying with me while he had a girlfriend, and that solidified (if it hadn’t been solidified earlier) my distaste with him.
I eventually went back to my job a year or so later, and John hasn’t really bothered me since, which is nice. Since then, I’ve been in working there on and off because of school and I see him on occasion. He’ll say, “hi” and I’ll be courteous but not friendly because there is no way that I’m returning to the fear and discomfort that I often still feel around him.
And this all started with a simple, letting someone walk into the gates of my protected city when my gut screamed not to. This is a big part of why I’m guarded, because if I ever have to go through something like that again, I don’t know what will happen. I shouldn’t have to feel unsafe going places, I shouldn’t have to fear being in a room with someone and I shouldn’t have someone harass me for a year all because I didn’t return the feelings, and made that clear. No one should have to deal with something like that, and I hope that no one will have to.
Also, I’m sorry this post is a little long but if you stuck it through, thank you. This has been on my mind for a while, and I know that people find it hard to connect with me, and don’t really know why. This is why. It even happens for a while when I’m in a relationship with someone, and it’s just a matter of giving me my time to get to know you and letting myself slowly let my guard down. So, I’m sorry if I made you feel like I really disliked you, it may just been that something about you makes me feel uneasy, and the simplest things can make me feel like that.
* Names were changed due to privacy and personal reasons.