Extreme need for isolation and fear of people

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My background is that I have been sexually abused since I was four years old by various people, male and female, mainly my father. I was emotionally abused from my earliest memories.

I have been going to church for the past month now and it has triggered me so much that I am in constant emotional pain over it. I live in a rural area and am an artist, I limit my dealings with people. I have in the past two years relaxed enough to "stand" my husband of 24 years. It took a lot of work and pain to even relax around him and I am rarely triggered by him anymore. But it took 22 years!

I require a lot of space and relish time alone. I have no close friends, though I do have aquaintances and I don't socialize except with a few people that my husband and I ride motorcycles with. For some reason I can tolerate this activity. I think because of the boundary that riding a motorcycle gives me.

I was wondering if any of you out there have problems when associating with people on a regular basis. I never have forced myself to deal with the relationship problem that I have. What happens with me is that I have anxiety attacks, dissacociation in different degrees, I feel so detached that I feel no emotion. I then pick apart everything that happened or was said. Then I get confused not trusting what people are saying or if they even like me. I also don't understand what relationship is or why or how....very confusing. It's hard to even explain it here.

For example, in this church, I need to sit in a chair away from the others, in the back and on the edge of the congregation. I can't hardly concentrate on what is happening because I am "freaking out". I start to feel boxed in, smothered and then I keep feeling this anxiety that makes me feel like I have to leave now or die. I have been questioning why I am going, what does this people think or feel about me....what does love or relationships mean...etc. etc.

I have tried to explain this to my therapist but he often gets this look on his face that he trully doesn't understand what I am talking about. He feels I am afraid of rejection, I agree to a point. It goes further than that. I just don't understand what it's all about. It hurts in my core and it's simply being around people.

I would appreciate any insight that you might have for me. My therapist has diagnosed me with attachment disorder, social anxiety and PTSD. From his analysis, he seems to think these terms makes it straight forward and something that will get better someday. In my mind and experience, this is my life. I have been feeling and doing this all my life, I'm 50 and where does that leave me? It's kind of depressing. But it isn't a problem as long I stay to myself and my home and work on the property and go on occasional motorcycle rides....

I know your pain. I am very aquainted with every emotion you are going through. I had my breakdown/breakthrough at the age of 50. It came from trying to live "that normal life" we always hear about but without the tools, skills and ability to do so.

I have PTSD(of course), anxiety/panic disorder, severe depression and the best one of all Agoraphobia. Tryed to go to church, experienced the exact same things and have never been able to go back.

I question motives behind people and their actions, I trust no one. But our biggest link is the desire and need to be alone. I am practically a hermit. My mother(86) lives with me and if not for her medical needs, I would never leave the house.

I just want you to know that I am walking in your shoes and do completely "get it".
I think this reaction to humans is normal for what you have been through.

I'm the same way. I used to push myself to be with people and got very good at putting on a mask. But that leads to exhaustion after a few years.

Now, I'm mostly by myself and really prefer it that way. When I am around others, I enjoy it more because I can sort of be myself, quiet, friendly, but with a lot of walls. Which I think is perfectly normal being trauma survivors and if it doesn't limit our lives too much and we are OK with it, then I see no reason to try to force change.

However, complete isolation can make one more and more whacky. So it's a balance.
Wow....thank you so much and it really helps to hear your stories. I forgot to mention that being around people also intensifies my sense of being odd or alone and it's unbearable. I have no feeling of connection with people in the first place and I think that it magnifies this feeling when I am around people.

At this church I am trying to go to, the pastor has combat PTSD (Vietnam Vet) and he gets it but then he doesn't have the aversion to people that I have. My desire is to go the church, not for the social part of it but the spiritual. I have been doing my own "church" for many years and I feel this need to spiritually grow. I want to work out my issues enough so that I can at least go to this church.

I needed to know if there were any other people out there with any understanding of this. Isolation can do that because I see everyone not having the same problem as I. Thank God I don't live in the city, I get anxiety over close quarters and I need the great wide open. I hike almost everyday to clear my spirit and mind, that really helps! Thanks, any more insight would be a blessing to me.
I spend a lot of time in nature too. It is really the only place I feel truly safe.

Strange. I've met a lot of people who are just amazed and shocked at how I go out into the woods alone (usually with a dog) and spend days in far out places. They say they are so afraid.

I find it exactly the opposite.........People terrify me. I'm cool with the wild. Probably cause that's where I hid from the abuse when little.....
I totally relate! I have hiked within days on the same trail that a mountain lion had jumped a bicyclist....it was diverted by pepper spray. I feel better at ease with the "dangers" of nature than with interacting with people...weird, I know. I also have had several run-ins with black bear (they were just startled, and would run off), to me it was exciting as I love bears. When I tell people this, they think I'm odd.

Hiking almost everyday gives me that peace and space that I need, I guess it's not for everybody. I would recommend it to anyone that has anxiety and people problems like myself.

Yep, the wild is cool.
I can totally relate to this. It caused huge issues in my last relationship. Mind you, the situation was - I was living in London (on the other side of the world from all my friends and family) and my ex partner was a born Londoner surrounded by family and friends. Sometimes I just couldn't deal with it and simply didn't wanna go out. However, I never once said 'can you stay home too?'. Exactly the opposite. I always thoroughly encouraged her to spend time with her friends. And I would cop it too. Her family and friends eventually would be like 'why isn't Jen coming?'. It made me feel hurt to be honest. It did play a part in the end of the relationship. I knew that none of them would understand my need for isolation and I was well and truly sick and tired of having to find ways to justify my actions. So eventually I thought 'I'm a bit jack of this. It will be a relief when this is over and I don't have to explain myself to anyone anymore'.

And yup, I know what you mean guys - I've just spent 4 months living ~alone~ in asia. And everyone says to me 'how did you do that? I could never ever do that!'. I must admit by the end of the 4th month I was a little in need of company (particularly given they don't speak English so you cant even strike up a conversation when you go to buy milk). I used to communicate with the security guard at my apartment block with my own lil version of sign language and what little Thai I'd picked up. I'm still wearing a bracelet he gave me when I left, and yet neither of us could ever understand a word the other said!

I agree with what TLight said -
Complete isolation can make one more and more whacky - so it's a balance.

One reason I think you are not afriad of nature is you pretty much know what to expect from her. People are another story!! I've never understood why "everybody else" is so worried about those of us who like being alone. Personally,I don't see is anything wrong with it.

Isn't it nice knowing you aren't so weird after all??? "I'm smiling" hope you are. Welcome to our world

And one of the occasions that sticks in my memory is - I didn't show up for a bday party. The next day I copped criticism from everyone. They all said it 'was a statement' on my part. A statement that there were problems in the relationship or I would have shown up and stood beside my partner at this event. It had nothing to do with making a statement re : our relationship. What hurt the most is that not one single person came to me and asked me why I didn't show up. They just all assumed I was unsupportive and the relationship was rocky. To be perfectly honest - that hurt, and it made it even harder to show up to events afterwards.
It is so wonderful to hear from folks just like myself. I have this need to hide what's wrong with me and that I require lots of space. I worry what people might say about me, esp. my family of origin. I am estranged from several of them, very good reasons but often I think back on the things that have been said about my "oddities" and it hurts. I am yet to fully accept myself as I am. I can do that while I am in control of my associations and isolation. But while dealing with the current emotional upset over going to church, I am totally out on a limb and I do indeed feel like an odd cookie, in fact I feel like I am mentally sick.

Thank God for my pastor who knows and understands what I am feeling. When I found out that the pastor is a Vet, I didn't hestitate to go to that church.....but still it makes me feel so crazy when I have all these reactions. Funny how the other church ladies try to pull me in and treat me like a scared rabbit. I don't consider myself a scared rabbit but from their viewpoint, I am one....gee, I hate it.

I have yet to meet someone that shares this adversion of people, it would help tremendously. I have tried to relate my problems with a few people and they generalize it to the point of not really getting the gist of the severity. Usually at this point, I give up and just smile. Ugh...
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What Grama-Herc and TLight said.

I think "isolation" gets a bad rap. To me, isolation is the gift. Am happly with light social interaction, talking to the lifeguard where I swim about diet and stuff.
My neighbors and I are friends, but respect each others privacy. In isolation I can sort things out, my mind isn't taxed trying live up to society's expectations.

I had a good chiropractor once, and told him about my back to back 2, 3 and 4 night solo trips into the high country. A lake in a mountain cirque I loved to hang out at. He goes, "aren't you scared up there alone?" Scared of what? The fewer people in a given square mile, the fewer the risks.

The outdoors and nature are healing. Mother earth provides all good things for those who respect their limits, and their chosen environment. Nature, and playing in the natural world saved my ass more times than I can count. And you can bet, the main reason I am so commited to get my legs working again, is so I can cut loose from the "civilized" hell people have created for themselves, and spend as many days and nights as I can outdoors.

Ant idea how much confidence one can gain from something as simple as backpacking? Only trouble is - these days - a female alone in the backcountry is advised to pack heat (a light hand gun) and know how to use it. Sad, but true. Not for protection from wildlife, for protection from people.
Yes James B, I did feel I got a 'bad rap'

Having said that I know it must have been hard for my ex partner to show up without me sometimes. Particularly when she wanted me to go with her because she was proud we were a couple. But the way her friends and family reacted to me sometimes not wanting to go out - I felt was a case of 'the punishment does not fit the crime'

Which I suppose says it all. The fact that I was so criticised that I would even refer to it as a 'crime' just says how much I was judged for it. Every time I didn't show up I'd hear 'she's not supportive or she'd be here'. Meantime I'm in a foreign country (her country) completely isolated from 'my' support system. And to be perfectly honest - I felt ganged up on. I couldn't wait to get out of there. ??? That's just the truth about how I felt. It just got a to a point where I realised it was not going to work - so I left.

I don't think I've ever felt more ganged up on in my entire life.
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