Isolation

For those who live alone- how do you do it?

I value my alone time, but more than a day and a half or so of no one else being at the house and I feel like I might go crazy. I’m supposed to be figuring out ways to move out and truly live on my own but I’m terrified. I have trauma around isolation and well far worse things. The “worse” things are being addressed. But I never took the time to understand the isolation side of my traumas. I also can’t be around people, interacting with them, much either. But there’s something in knowing someone is there in the house that keeps a lot at bay. But when they leave for multiple days? I feel like I might go insane and feel way too vulnerable.
 

Skywatcher

MyPTSD Pro
When I first lived alone, I had fish and a cat. Now that I’ve been married for over 20 years, I have this new fear of when I may be alone someday. I’ve told my therapist that I need to figure out how to like myself enough to be alone. It confuses me because I do isolate. I become overwhelmed around too much stimulation, but I’m also an extrovert. Ptsd makes extroverts appear as introverts. If you have people to be around you during the day, alone at night might go just fine. You may also consider a roommate?
 
When I first lived alone, I had fish and a cat. Now that I’ve been married for over 20 years, I have this new fear of when I may be alone someday. I’ve told my therapist that I need to figure out how to like myself enough to be alone. It confuses me because I do isolate. I become overwhelmed around too much stimulation, but I’m also an extrovert. Ptsd makes extroverts appear as introverts. If you have people to be around you during the day, alone at night might go just fine. You may also consider a roommate?

I have a dog and he does help some. I’ll have to look into getting a roommate, that’s a good idea. Hopefully I could find one who likes dogs.
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
Yeah, roommates are a good intermediate thing. You have a bit of the safety and the company of others without them living-with-you like a partner does. Plus it's also generally cheaper than living alone. I've had terrible roommates and good ones too, but it's perfectly possible to recruit them in a way that suits you.

There are quite a lot of people who would even like to have a dog without having one or wanting all the responsibilities with it like vet and stuff, so I guess it's also a good thing. People who will respond to your ad are likely to be like minded.

Don't hesitate to be very straightforward about what you want and need from people as roommates and the ways you are too. It's better to bottleneck the demand a bit rather than overwhelming yourself with too many candidates or apartments you'll have to review. Be precise without being totally exclusive of a good surprise, that happens.

But people who do understand what boundaries are and who do wash the dishes it's really important. Dishes can really go badly out of control and it's the first point of war in any house I've ever seen. Also, important to pick someone who broadly shares your values (not opinions necessarily, but values), that's important.

Also check if the geography of the house allows you to have common and separate spaces. So you have the choice between being in and out according to your needs without being all awkward like if your room is a mezzanine above the living room.

I also very much enjoy semi presences around and stuff going on while I'm not in the middle of everything. You feel a bit gathered while not overwhelmed. I think for the urban animals we're now it's quite a good balance.
 

Simply Simon

Sponsor
I have trauma around isolation and well far worse things. The “worse” things are being addressed. But I never took the time to understand the isolation side of my traumas. I also can’t be around people, interacting with them, much either. But there’s something in knowing someone is there in the house that keeps a lot at bay.

I feel worried by some of the above, largely by your categorization of your trauma on a spectrum that sounds like “not that bad” and “validly horrific.” Is this categorization serving you?

Has your T/support team talked with you about the possibility of disordered attachment? Anxious attachment?
 

Freddyt

Confident
Make a goal of getting out for a walk in a park or somewhere there is a sense of space, and a few people. We have a pipeline right of way behind the house and its been turned into a park space with trees, walking path, and all that. People walking, dogs, all that. Just the sense of space sort of resets that closed in feeling. Most interaction is just a nod or a Hi so there's limited interaction.
 
@ruborcoraxxx, those are really good points I need to take into consideration. Thank you. I’m thinking a roommate is probably the only way I’ll be able to go from here. Here’s hoping I can find a match.

@Simply Simon, yes my T definitely believes I have disorganized attachment which is obviously challenging in itself. For the rest of your comment, I do have a scale I suppose and the time I spent alone does fall way short on that scale. Like there was CSA and DV and stuff that I feel like we’re worse than being left alone. Cause, like it was my own fault I was alone anyway and it wasn’t like I was starved or anything. I should have been able to handle it just fine, I mean I was 13-14 for Christ’s sake and it was only 2-3 weeks at a time. Then my parents would come home for the weekend and buy me food and really whatever I wanted to help me out. But then they’d go for 2-3 weeks again and I would try to drown my brain out with the TV and the radio but no matter how loud those were it was still too quiet and it felt like I was actually going insane. I don’t know if anyone has ever felt that, but I don’t know how else to describe it. I truly felt like I was losing my mind. And it’s all my fault because any other potential babysitters at the time hated me cause I would ruin their stuff or be in the way or have an attitude. Plus I was too old for a babysitter anyway. And that only lasted for like a year, so I don’t know.
 

Simply Simon

Sponsor
I actually do not know where to start addressing your experience of being left alone when you were a child unable to leave your home and with no one to support you for weeks at a time on any level. I know several people who have taken time to realize being left alone at various ages for days or a week at a time while they were children was absolutely inappropriate. They seem to take notice that this was abnormal best when they mention it off the cuff, casually, and listeners are horrified, or when they realize they would never leave their pet or child like that.

For perspective, I worry about being gone for 12 or more hours because I know my dogs are alone. I’m not worried about my house or property being destroyed; I’m worried about how they feel being cooped up without me. And they have each other: there are three.

I could go on about this, but I won’t. I didn’t think of my mother as (verbally and psychologically) abusive or neglectful until I was ready to feel it. I don’t wish to push anyone else. I’m just not sure whether you’re serving yourself with your scale.

I’d just like to say your struggling with the thought of living alone seems absolutely normal and expected given your formative experience with isolation.

I also have disorganized attachment. It’s a real mindf*ck. In some ways it affects me worse than my more... ehhh... “purely” PTSD symptoms these days on a routine basis. The oscillation is dizzying. Like @anthony says regarding BPD, I often have a response to feeling wounded of “Help me! But I won’t let you.”
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I have almost always lived alone, except for growing up and a year when I had a very sick and manipulative roommate. For a long time, I felt pretty isolated, but since I got cats (some 20 years ago), I just don't. I do have days here and there when I think I'm going to lose it, but I go outside on those days...I walk and engage with nature, and that really helps me. My cats, though, are family, and I talk to and play with them and am just *with* them a lot. I also keep pretty busy - even in house, isolated - which helps take the edge off of things.

Another thing that has helped is contact over Zoom - or similar - with church folks and friends. I have a regular get-together with two long-distance friends on Zoom, which is nice.
 
I’ve lived completely alone for the past 20+ years and I wouldn’t wish this isolation on my worst enemy. I was living with my parents and younger sister before they suddenly died (auto accident and heart-attack). Unfortunately, I was never close to my abusive brother nor abusive half-sister nor my remaining few cousins. I never married nor did I have children.

Trying to adjust to my new situation took all of my strength, as it had turned my entire world upside down. I felt so helpless. Beyond my grief was my sudden financial insecurity, an ugly estate issue and my realization of more underlying abuse.. Both my childhood LD and later brain tumor damage left me with difficulties in employment. Rarely do I leave home. Then too, the covid pandemic didn’t help. When I’m out rarely have I seem a face unmasked. My recent BTI resulted in my balance and muscle strength disorder. So I have to be extremely cautious in everything I do, as there’s no one around to check on me.

Rarely has there been any contact with family relatives over the past 20 years. Then too, I’m very reluctant to reach out to my past abusers or to their supporters. I’ve had no supportive therapist. Over the years, I’ve noticed that my abusers would friend my closest friends and confidants, thus, I could no longer share with them (identity theft, it gets even worse). And when I attended a bereavement support group, my half-sister had her close friend also attend to silence me. She haven’t lost a loved one so, why was she there.

Social media beyond my one fb friend has been mostly a downer. I try not to compare my own life to others yet, in away much of fb reminds me of how my life might have been different. My pet bird died last year. I haven’t any pets now. Yet I did find some comfort in looking into my bird’s eyes and knowing that him was looking back at me.

My wit, my imagination, my artwork, the artwork and music of others, plus my piano playing at night, when I couldn’t fall asleep, have helped me to survive. But then, there were also times when I’d place my face in my pillow and scream. Those days are gone now, along with my fear of falling asleep alone in my ‘otherwise’ empty house. I use the word ‘otherwise’ because ‘I am here with myself.’ Not to suggest that I view myself as being two different people but rather, that I’ve learned to look deeply within myself to find some degree of comfort. And no, this isn’t perfect …I still suffer.
 

that_1_girl

Learning
I am too tired to make much sense but isolation without hope of relief can literally break you, break your spirit. That’s why solitary confinement in prison is (theoretically) reserved for only the most sociopathic violent criminals. It’s inhumane and I consider it a form of torture. Humans are primates and primates are social animals. Babies that don’t get any attention in orphanages etc literally die from something called failure to thrive. Human contact (the safe kind!) is a basic need. (Now if you’re either an extremely ascetic and holy monk/nun seeking communion with the spiritual realm OR severely personality disordered and/or mentally ill (not ptsd) like my mother and you literally crave “solitude” to the point of kicking everyone out of the house for days at a time and actively unplugging all devices and crying and writing dozens of 4 inch thick binders full of cathartic journals and actively trying to forget that your family that you say you love even exists in time and space, when you have literally 80 acres of undeveloped forested land that you OWN and could easily find “solitude” in any of those acres and yet you STILL need to kick your husband and kids out for days to find that “desperately needed solitude” to keep from becoming suicidal…then maybe it’s not a basic need for HER.) I’m NOT comparing you to my mother. She’s a piece of work.

what I’m actually trying to say is that involuntary isolation IS abuse and it verges on torture. It breaks even the strongest people. You’re not crazy. Isolation when it is inflicted on you by someone else (or when it’s your unhealthy coping mechanism) is deadly. It’s absolutely trauma and should definitely be addressed in therapy as part of your history.

I think feeling entirely alone while being surrounded by people who negate or deny you or refuse to validate you and your very own self/experiences is roughly equally terrible.

Isolation is a huge part of complex ptsd and in my opinion is one of the very hardest parts. We’re just smart primates wearing clothing but our basic need for contact with other members of our own species is hardwired. You are definitely NOT crazy, weird, overly needy or anything of the kind. It’s biology. It takes a village. How that makes a little sense it’s way past my bedtime.
 
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