When faced with my demons I clothe them and feed them…

I’m rather risk-averse. So are many, possibly most people. Essentially, this means most of your motivation, and most of the things you do are to prevent something worse from happening, and preserve the status quo if you’re reasonably happy with it.

Why do people choose to work 40 hour weeks in a job that they often find annoying, doing things they’d rather not do? So that they won’t become homeless, be unable to pay bills, have nothing to eat. That’s the most simple and basic example.

Think about it. Why eat at regular intervals? To avoid the pain of hunger. Why take care of your appearance and personal hygiene? Because you have enough self-respect not to want to be dirty and unkempt. Why clean the house and keep your stuff in order? Because it’s unpleasant to have a dirty and untidy house. Why go shopping? Because you need to eat to avoid hunger. Etc etc etc. Do I need to go on?

For most of our days pretty much all of us will be chasing the alleviation of some kind of pain, deprivation or suffering. Even reading, using the Internet, watching movies or documentaries, listening to music and other entertainments provides escape. Escape from reality, from the tedious grind of existence, from our often unpleasant thoughts or emotion, as catharsis for our worst fears, well there are probably quite a few motivations I haven’t listed, but the basic principle remains. Simply existing is never enough. If we didn’t do all these things it would frankly suck.

What on earth you might be wondering does this have to do with friendship?

We’re often told we’re social beings. Up to a point that is true. We tend to interdepend a fair bit. I need Sainsbury’s to exist and also the internet so I can buy my groceries in the comfort of my home. Very few of us would choose to go ‘into the wild’. In that film, the guy ends up dying. I didn’t watch it all. I’ve no interest whatever in gardening let alone growing all my own food, have never learned extreme survival skills and have no interest in doing so.

I much appreciate the work of all these other people that enables me to live comfortably in my castle. But socialising? Do we really need that? What purpose does it serve? And do we actually need friends?

Once upon a time, not even too long ago, I would have answered in the affirmative. We need close friends to confide in and whatnot. But how close is close? Does it mean they can call you all hours of the day and night to ‘confide’ some drama they are currently going through in their lives? If so, I’m firmly out. I’m not going to ‘be there’ in that way for anyone but my mother and my son.

Have I ever had close friends? In the past I’ve agonised over this long and hard. I’ve mentally totted up the number of the people I could call ‘friends’, but how close were they really? What is required of me to qualify in their mind as a close friend or even a ‘best friend’?

Honestly I can say I have never, even as a child, had a best friend. It didn’t bother me then and it doesn’t bother me now. I’m just not the type to keep childhood friends close for years into adulthood, to bond in that way. I’m not at all sure I see the appeal. Do I even crave love, let alone friendship? Maybe once in the past. Not any more.

My intimate relationships have been a veritable catalogue of infatuation/’falling in love’ (driven by hormones and the genetic need to reproduce), a brief honeymoon period followed by a slow decline into boredom, suffocation, feeling abandoned and existing, sometimes for years, on occasional crumbs of love and affection from these people. Sometimes I became somewhat obsessed. Often I would place them on a pedestal only to knock them right off it and devalue them. Often they would do the same to me. The best I can say is that it gave me a focus. Clearly I experienced some kind of inner void/emptiness that only intimacy with another could fill.

So yet again even the pursuit of love and friendship was essentially risk-aversion. Can we factor in at this point that when things go badly wrong in our lives, say we have a bad accident or become mentally or physically ill, who is gonna comfort us, nurse us, bring us drinks or food and drive us to the hospital?

Those are real needs. That is the most compelling argument, for me, about the need for friends and partners. Yet again, this is risk aversion at play. We fear being even worse off than we are already. We fear being alone, outcasted, abandoned, and we rightly fear what would happen in the event of an emergency such as I outlined above.

Now? This may seem harsh but people to me are largely little more than another distraction, a kind of real-life entertainment. And honestly what am I to them? Often a source of money, sometimes a source of sexual gratification, and yes, I’m clearly being used for what I can supply them with. They often don’t know anything about my inner depths, I could never communicate those to anyone fully anyway. We simply use each other as means to an end and it’s all about us.

I might add at this point that it is yet again risk-aversion that is causing me nowadays to become semi-reclusive. I LOVE my home, and live with someone currently who is neither a close friend nor intimate partner. But I love having the house to myself and it works pretty well because he works long shifts and doesn’t return to the house until I am in bed asleep.

I love my own company. I am solitary by nature. I love peace and quiet. Social gatherings of any kind make me want to run for the hills. Even meeting up with friends for a tea or coffee in a local cafe was something that, somewhere deep down, I dreaded and was anxious about. Yet I had no problems drinking a tea or coffee all by myself. I preferred to go to the movies alone because if I went with someone I would be worried and anxious as to whether they were having a good time. I would also have to endure their banal comments afterward about the film, whereas if I went alone I could emerge from the cinema in a pleasant haze after having been immersed in someone else’s reality for a couple hours, and process the experience inwardly by myself.

It’s too complex to say I CAN’T be social. I am actually very socially adept, provided I’m not in severe depression. But generally I prefer my dose of ‘people’ to be in some kind of strictly boundaried setting. Such as a support group, or individual psychotherapy/counselling. I tend to become friendly with my support workers. This is precisely because I KNOW they will never expect me to be friends with them. They are never gonna call me at 3am, or need me to take them shopping or drive them to the hospital.

I’ve always been this way. Only now though does it feel perfectly OK. Heck, as the saying goes, why buy a cow because you need a drink of milk now and again? (Or vegan equivalent). The only time I feel needy for company is in severe depression (or mania, but that’s another story). Not because I actively expect any pleasure from being around people, but simply because I cannot tolerate my own thoughts. Once again, people are a distraction, a reassurance that I’m still human, and my own company, usually so much treasured, has become a nightmare. Risk-aversion once again, folks. I go out because I know full well if I stay in I will feel worse. Simple as.

But my best times have always been solitary ones. My usual instinct is to flee from social interaction. Prolonged socialising has me only anticipating one thing. Escaping back to the safety of solitude.

The online friends I have I am hard pressed to keep up contact with. It’s good to know they are there though, and they are great people who I would have been unlikely to meet in the lottery that is finding friends in your local area or on dating websites. Some of them are as solitary as I or more so. They have rich inner lives. And best of all…they’re at a distance. When I’m down their words of comfort are very soothing and validating. They reassure me that I’m worth something no matter how bad I feel.

That’s all folks.

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Comments on: "On Having No Friends and Risk Aversion" (3)

  1. Hmm. This is something I’m currently wrestling with as I spent parts of the “festive season” with family and it’s all left me feeling poisoned, drained and wondering why I bother with people. As you know, I don’t “do” socialisation and I hoped to maybe start being/feeling able to do so following my therapy which dealt partly with these issues, BUT… and that’s the big thing right now BUT.

    I have nothing to prove to anyone. I don’t care if people like me or not. The sad fact is, deep down, try as hard as I might save for a handful of people (including present company!) I just am NOT interested in them and find it very hard to find any interest as my world and theirs seem Universe’s apart.

    I also think “socialisation” has been changing and not for the better as most now piss around with Farcebook and Twatter hence now it’s all about “LOOK AT MEEEE!” showing off a never ending barrage of selfies and endless trivia. Oh, so they ate THAT for dinner today… BIG FECKING DEAL. All this meaningless trivia people focus on is all about getting “liked” and accumulating tons of “friends” or “followers” they’ve never met and never will meet because psychologically it makes them think they’re something special. It’s all having a cancerous effect on how people communicate and relate to each other. Like I said, I’m NOT INTERESTED.

    So, what is it that interests me about YOU? He he he… we’ve spoken about that elsewhere but first, yer a great writer who articulates how you feel in an engaging way. You also have a carefree attitude in that you have written and published stuff that is intensely personal and sometimes shocking, but that’s what you’re about – we’re invited to take or leave you without any pretence. You’re not aiming to be “liked”, you just express and reflect who you are with genuine candour and honesty that these days I find interesting and refreshing. You have a brain and intelligence and though I am one of those online friends you mention who banters every once in a while, I’m still here and still reading because I find you and what you have to express interesting and it sometimes speaks to me. Maybe FOR me in some ways.

    I dunno… we are alike in various ways and very different in others but I can relate to you better than I can to 99% of people I’ve encountered or continue to meet, but I do wonder how much more I will meet as I have a low tolerance of bullshit and vanity and the people I tend to encounter, well… yeah, maybe I’m just used to my own company now to the degree that other people feel more like a disruption than a distraction. I dunno… Johnny Nash springs to mind “There Are More Questions Than Answers!”

    • Oh and Baz, I only just now saw your other comment. That was a truly lovely and genuinely touching compliment. I say, it takes one to know one! You understand I don’t care how I’m perceived. You understand what it is to cherish solitude. I’m glad you felt a bit ‘spoken for’… I know exactly what you mean and I often felt that about YOUR writing! And you’re not given to lavish paeans of praise, gratuitous flattery or sycophancy, or playing mind games with someone to try and extract something you want. Not a manipulative asshole! You have the Louise seal of approval at any rate and that’s not too easily given. So please do continue to hang in there and read my stuff! You and my tiny handful of other loyal readers inspire me to keep going. But if I was never read again till the day I die I think my ‘soul’, character, whatever, would live on in these words more than anywhere else. A lengthy suicide note? Possibly. Or possibly this blog will be the Samaritan that gives me the outlet and the hope, to live another day.

      Am I a narcissist? It’s OK, only a rhetorical question. But I must admit I enjoy reading extensively past entries to this blog. I enjoy my own archive. I write then read and reread my own work many times. Like God did with His creation (lol) I pronounce it good! Lolol. Call me a conceited asshole. Go ahead. Lol. Ahh the joys of the Internet.

      • Yer welcome! Yes, I do find myself fascinated by my OWN writings. I do keep a digital journal and keep updating it with archive stuff so all the while old diaries, letters, emails, handwritten stuff gets added to it as and when I find them so I can click on most years of my life and find out what I was doing and thinking during certain eras.

        It’s funny because sometimes during my darker moments I have mused in the journal that it could be two things simultaneously – 1, a lengthy suicide note and 2, my self portrait. When I do pass on, EVERYTHING is in that journal so a complete stranger could look at it if they choose and over time, they’d find out EXACTLY who I was/am etc. Archiving is important – we do need to be reminded of good and bad things we’ve been through. Jeez, I look at some of my darker stuff and it’s almost like reading the words of somebody else which jolts me back in the present day as a sign of my strength that I overcame that episode and still here to rant and fight through another day/week/month/year!

        Yes, I do think I’ll “live on” through my writings but I also think they help me to keep living on too! I had a lousy Christmas and New Year but I feel OK about it because I’ve been writing all about it and using the journal as my outlet… once I’ve let off the steam, I can walk away get on with something else and feel fine again without it festering away for weeks afterwards.

        Maybe one day I may return to blogging but at the moment I prefer to write for myself and try and get a few things into motion. I’m determined to make sure 2017 is a decent year and who knows, it might be a better year for you too. Here’s hoping. 🙂

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