Extreme need for isolation and fear of people

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I made a decision a long time ago that the condition I've been given IS NOT MY FAULT. With that being said, I am very open about my conditon.

Case in point. Recently I attended my 45th class reunion. It was extremely difficult with all my issues, especially my agoraphobia and intense fear of people.

I finally agreed to go cuz a high school friend kept begging me to be there for her. She kept assuring me I would be ok. Once I got there, I discovered she had 2 other women with her, so I sat all 3 of them down, since it was obviously I was going to be with them during the parties, and told them exactly what I have going on with me. I asked them to never leave me sitting alone by myself and if I disappeared, give me some time and then come find me to be sure I was ok.

With their help I actually enjoyed myself. They did not judge me, they helped me. If fact, I of the gals was so interested in my issues that she asked if I minded answering questions about it. Now, I have had other people almost physically run from me when I chose to tell them. To me it was no loss. I've always been open and it has helped rid my life of people who don't really care about me.

But I refuse to be, or feel, guilty over something that is not my fault and which I have minimal control over. People are obivously the reason I am scared of them. I do what I can do. If I can't I simply say sorry, can't do it. Plus, I don't "owe" anyone an explanation other than "sorry, I can't, but thank you." PERIOD. If that is not acceptable to them, screw em!!!! Baby steps can accomplish more than you think.
 
Great conversation you guys! I too am most comfortable in nature...it was the only place I felt safe and at peace growing up (fortunately I spent a lot of time in the woods growing up!) I also love being around animals....they are loyal, seem to understand how I feel and I never have to explain myself to them.

On the other hand I have always been quite social. I have several close friends....but lately things are different. I had a breakdown 8+ years ago and moved from CA back to OR as a result. I have felt numb since my breakdown as well as totally detached, like I could take or leave anyone. We live on acreage in the coastal range and I bought horses when we moved up here. One of the social things I still like to do is go horseback riding with friends. Last Fall I hit a huge depression and since then have a hard time being around people. Funny cause I am an insurance agent with a friend/business partner who also has PTSD. Our busines requires that we be with people constantly. That is different for me because it's business.

Lately I find I don't even want to call, let alone be with, my close friends. I return a call to my best friend this am (she's been leaving messages for 2 weeks) and it left me feeling so incredibly anxious. I don't understand what is happening to me. Why on earth would I be anxious about talking to my best friend of 30 years. I am zoning out more and more. Not hearing what people are saying to me or if I do, not understanding. Why would this hit me now, at 50? My Therapist says that the closer I get to a geniune relationship, the more fearful I will get. He encouraged me that I will get thru it, that it gets worse before it gets better. Wow..I hope he's right!

All that to say, SavedByGrace, that I think we have to be willing to expose ourselves to what scares us in order to get over it. Little by litte our anxiety will ease. I sure hope so anyway!
 
It's comforting to read all your posts, even if it is an old thread. I'm new here, and I can relate to being shit scared of people. People and cars scare me the most in life...more than death. I'm not scared to die...it's just another part of the adventure...but people...
 
I have something like the opposite problem, i.e. I had Complex PTSD from infancy, and then was persecuted for being "anti-social" etc. even when I was bullied and tortured psychologically, and was just persecuted more and more for not wanting to be around people who were hurtful to me. Eventually I was punished by juvenile committment/hospitalization, and after a year of this persecution, bullying and torture then they "convinced" me that I was anti-social, and so I'd try to be social-- and it would backfire and I'd be persecuted and bullied even more, but I just repressed it turned the hurt inwards, since I was afraid of being "anti-social--" and I knew that this is how everyone would just blame me for it if I acted hurt in any way. Basically I had been brainwashed not to act the way I felt-- it's a long story, basically they said I was "running away from my problems" and that they were going to "force me to learn to deal with them" etc. This was in the late 70's, where they would just blame the victim for everything; they simply didn't CARE about how I felt, or how tortured I was by their treatment. I only survived, because I didn't die-- physically at least.
This was about 33 years ago, and I still have flashbacks about those incidents after this, more than anything-- probably because I repressed it and couldn't express how I felt, or protect myself in any way, but would just deny that there was any abuse; in short, I had internalized their denial and persecution.
So basically I live in a vicious cycle of feeling inferior for not being social, while at the same time living a fairly isolated existence with trauma and flashbacks.
 
I have something like the opposite problem, i.e. I had Complex PTSD from infancy, and then was persecuted for being "anti-social" etc. even when I was bullied and tortured psychologically, and was just persecuted more and more for not wanting to be around people who were hurtful to me. Eventually I was punished by juvenile committment/hospitalization, and after a year of this persecution, bullying and torture then they "convinced" me that I was anti-social, and so I'd try to be social-- and it would backfire and I'd be persecuted and bullied even more, but I just repressed it turned the hurt inwards, since I was afraid of being "anti-social--" and I knew that this is how everyone would just blame me for it if I acted hurt in any way. Basically I had been brainwashed not to act the way I felt-- it's a long story, basically they said I was "running away from my problems" and that they were going to "force me to learn to deal with them" etc. This was in the late 70's, where they would just blame the victim for everything; they simply didn't CARE about how I felt, or how tortured I was by their treatment. I only survived, because I didn't die-- physically at least.
This was about 33 years ago, and I still have flashbacks about those incidents after this, more than anything-- probably because I repressed it and couldn't express how I felt, or protect myself in any way, but would just deny that there was any abuse; in short, I had internalized their denial and persecution.
So basically I live in a vicious cycle of feeling inferior for not being social, while at the same time living a fairly isolated existence with trauma and flashbacks.
God! I'm so sorry you had to go through that, it sounds like it was absolutely horrendous. Glad you found this place to feel safe in.
 
I'm thankful (and sorry) that there are others out there who experience the world the same as I do. I know the root cause of my issues: I aged out of foster care after my parents died. Not having a loving family in your life to affirm and guide you wreaks havoc on the soul. I've gone through all the proper channels to diagnose and treat my condition: I've been to therapists, tried numerous medications, completed "mindfullness" traning, read self-help book, etc. I've even devoted my life to helping kids who have experience the same kinds of severe trauma and loss as I did. Intellectually, I know why I am the way I am. I've seen the patterns of my own story renacted a hundred times in these kids. We're scared of people because we were hurt, abandoned, betrayed, forgotten, deceived, and devastated over and over again by the very people who were designed to be our foundation in the world. Without a foundation, we lacked anchors. We can't trust our senses - our own steps, the feel of something solid enough to support us - because we learned that that people crumble easily. Eventually, the people who hurt us became our template for everyone. Everyone became the world.

This is why - before every social gathering regardless of how big or small - my husband and I dance the same dance: I become terrified, tell him to tell everyone that I'm sick, I cry, I feel like my chest is caving in on me. Even in my own house for a simple dinner party, I'm always late. It's a running joke. What everyone downstairs doesn't know is that I'm late because I'm upstairs in my bedroom - absolutely terrified - trying with all my might to break through the glass wall that separates me from the world. In this case, me from everyone downstairs. As I overhear the sound of wine bottles being opened and fragments of their laughter and lively conversations float upstairs, the urge to keep the world out - to hide myself away upstairs in the safety of my bedroom- becomes more powerful. I'm not afraid of the world; I'm afraid of the people in it. It takes a certain degree of courage to walk down those stairs. To psych myself for social interaction. The thought of being around people literally makes it difficult to breathe. But very few people know this. Out of necessity, I've become adept at hiding it from the world. Save my very loving, understanding, and supportive husband. I guess, in some ways, he's my life oxygen tank. He's the only person with whom I can breathe freely.

I am most comfortable alone. For my master's thesis, I interviewed youth who aged of foster care. One girl told me that she didn't make connections because people aren't worth the energy they take from her. I guess I feel the same the way.
 
I'm thankful (and sorry) that there are others out there who experience the world the same as I do. I know the root cause of my issues: I aged out of foster care after my parents died. Not having a loving family in your life to affirm and guide you wreaks havoc on the soul. I've gone through all the proper channels to diagnose and treat my condition: I've been to therapists, tried numerous medications, completed "mindfullness" traning, read self-help book, etc. I've even devoted my life to helping kids who have experience the same kinds of severe trauma and loss as I did. Intellectually, I know why I am the way I am. I've seen the patterns of my own story renacted a hundred times in these kids. We're scared of people because we were hurt, abandoned, betrayed, forgotten, deceived, and devastated over and over again by the very people who were designed to be our foundation in the world. Without a foundation, we lacked anchors. We can't trust our senses - our own steps, the feel of something solid enough to support us - because we learned that that people crumble easily. Eventually, the people who hurt us became our template for everyone. Everyone became the world.

This is why - before every social gathering regardless of how big or small - my husband and I dance the same dance: I become terrified, tell him to tell everyone that I'm sick, I cry, I feel like my chest is caving in on me. Even in my own house for a simple dinner party, I'm always late. It's a running joke. What everyone downstairs doesn't know is that I'm late because I'm upstairs in my bedroom - absolutely terrified - trying with all my might to break through the glass wall that separates me from the world. In this case, me from everyone downstairs. As I overhear the sound of wine bottles being opened and fragments of their laughter and lively conversations float upstairs, the urge to keep the world out - to hide myself away upstairs in the safety of my bedroom- becomes more powerful. I'm not afraid of the world; I'm afraid of the people in it. It takes a certain degree of courage to walk down those stairs. To psych myself for social interaction. The thought of being around people literally makes it difficult to breathe. But very few people know this. Out of necessity, I've become adept at hiding it from the world. Save my very loving, understanding, and supportive husband. I guess, in some ways, he's my life oxygen tank. He's the only person with whom I can breathe freely.

I am most comfortable alone. For my master's thesis, I interviewed youth who aged of foster care. One girl told me that she didn't make connections because people aren't worth the energy they take from her. I guess I feel the same the way.

It's amazing the effect that people who are toxic and damaging to us can have long-term, and they just carry on with their lives as though nothing happened, and are oblivious to their actions. It' makes me so angry, how unfair it is.

People think that I'm afraid to live...I'm not. I've lived a lot more than most people ever will, but people scare me so much, I'm the same as you. I just hole up in my room 'cos it's the safest place in the world for me, and the only place where I can feel free to be myself and not have to 'perform' for someone elses amuement or entertainment.

I totally get how much effort it takes to walk down those stairs, even though there are no stairs where I live...it's proverbial.;)
 
I can relate to this thread.

I used to be 'painfully shy' as a child. You can see it by looking at my class pictures (I was the one sitting on hands and slumped low in the chair- hiding). I hated hugging for the longest time. And, yes, people have scared the shit out of me.

My fears all stem from getting hurt by people- anyone. I see them all as threats most of the time. God, I wonder if I ever let my guard down... maybe a little.

I think I've learned to moderate my fear better now (if that's possible) and while I am still scared at times, I can still go out and 'do things in the real world.' I don't always succeed (sometimes I cannot leave the house), but I still try and that makes a big difference to me.
 
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....

onlybygrace
 
Thanks so much everyone for your writings. I did not know until today that I am not alone in this experience..I am so grateful to have found this site.
 
We're scared of people because we were hurt, abandoned, betrayed, forgotten, deceived, and devastated over and over again by the very people who were designed to be our foundation in the world. Without a foundation, we lacked anchors. We can't trust our senses - our own steps, the feel of something solid enough to support us - because we learned that that people crumble easily. Eventually, the people who hurt us became our template for everyone. Everyone became the world.

Wow...this is so true, thanks for writing this down HopefulMonster!

It's all about trust. Trusting other people, trusting yourself. This part of PTSD is so frustrating to me. I like people, I can't, and do not want to live without them, but I can hardly stand to be around most people.
I have to put myself in involuntary isolation to keep myself balanced, in order to avoid to much triggering. The isolation makes me lonely, and increase the PTSD symptoms, but if I wouldnt isolate myself, the symptoms increase as well. A real catch 22.

It's hard to connect to people when my "natural "state is to distrust people. It's offending and hurtfull towards them, and it gets in the way of bonding with someone.Like many other sufferers here, I survived because I learned to distrust, it kept me safe from more harm, but now it keeps me from bonding and connecting to people ( wich will make my life more happy and fullfilling).
The distance I put between myself and people is confusing to most of them ( as it is to myself). The people that "intuitively" read/understand my need for emotional distance are ussualy predators or abusers, they relate to it, but from another point of view.

It's hard to have to be on guard around people, it's an automatic defense mechanism, and a real hard one to stay aware of.I have found it difficult to make the distiction between my past, and the present, where most people can be trusted, and where I'm not the helpless little girl anymore.
Althoug on the outside I come accross as an assertive, opinionated grown woman, on the inside, I feel like a vunerable little helpless girl when I'm around people.

Sorry for rambling, but obviously this strikes a cord.

Thank you for starting this topic!
 
I'm not afraid of the world; I'm afraid of the people in it.
This. This exactly.
People are so unpredictable. Will they be kind, will they be violent, will they want to get close to you? You never know. They can change so fast and without warning, and always, always there's the danger of them wanting to be close on way or other. So you try to avoid their attention and their emotions at all cost. Don't see me, don't think about me, don't feel anything for me. Just ignore me and let me go.

onlybygrace, I see a lot of myself in your post.
 
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