The first was the number of people who reached out to me to express their support; I can honestly say that it wasn't what I expected. What I thought I would hear is "that's not a real thing". I didn't. (http://psychcentral.com/disorders/avoidant-personality-disorder-symptoms/)
The second is that I took steps in order to deal with some of those things I have been avoiding in order to open my life to more possibilities. With help from the wonderful Amanda Stark, my home is a place where I am able to invite people, and will soon be a place where my friends can gather and my family will be able to celebrate holidays. I may even get a canine companion.
The third is the love I have found with my girls, Laurie Bursch and Shelley Carr. They have provided me an anchor to tie to when my mind wants me to spiral down to depression, and give themselves and their time freely. Individuals with avoidant personality disorder have limited social circles due to the fears built up in their minds; I have been blessed to find two people who were willing to help me break down those barriers. I don't tell them often enough how much I love and appreciate them. Now the whole world knows.
My personal successes with my non-work commitments to Women & Politics and now the SoHo Community Association have shown me that I can make valuable contributions to my community. It's a confidence booster. But not without challenges where I question my ability to do a good job for them. As we used to say in Brownies, "I promise to do my best".
The reappearance of an old friend from high school has certainly been the most unexpected thing of all.
One of the reasons I'm not on Facebook, and that neither this account nor my Twitter account identify me by name, is to help me avoid people from that time in my life when everything bad was happening. I'm smart enough to know that I should stay away from triggers, lest I get trapped in that cycle again. But I was persuaded to put a profile on LinkedIn for professional reasons and was discovered that way.
There are fewer than 10 people from my high school years that I wouldn't mind spending time with again; D is one of them.
Since he made 'first contact' at the beginning of December 2015, we've spent a lot of time via email, text, and phone baring our souls to each other. When you're a teenager, you don't talk about hopes and dreams and fears; and you definitely don't tell people about the darkness in your life, lest you be rejected, ridiculed, and disbelieved.
Now we're well into middle-age and a lot of those hopes and dreams have fallen by the wayside, and, shockingly to both of us, we're discussing ALL of it. Shockingly because we weren't that close all those years ago.
Is it possible to miss someone without knowing it? Because that thought went through my head more than once as we sat in my living room talking a day away recently.
I don't have an answer for that. But I do hope we'll be friends for the next 35 years making up for those we were apart (with any luck).
*****Every day presents challenges, this doesn't just go away. I continue to find myself mired in self-loathing on a daily basis; there are many, many days when the ugly takes over and the worthlessness moves in.
In her book "Fat Girl Walking", Brittany Gibbons implores those of us dealing with this to:
Remind yourself of all the ways you are beautiful, stop the negative talk... and do what it takes to get comfortable in your skin.
I'm still not sure how to get there. For me, sharing how I feel with the world was a big step. Talking myself into self-love is infinitely more difficult.
But now it feels easier, definitely less lonely; and maybe that will be something that builds over time, allowing me to find some measure of contentment.
Next to True Love & Eternal Happiness that would be the best thing of all.