I'm hoping you could shed some light on a personal issue I've been having for some time now. I've been involved with the fandom for nearly 12 years and the people and community have been a key part of my life through the most critical stages so far. This is how I came across your page actually, and I feel like If I can trust anyone's opinion it would be another fur's.
My problem is that I feel very disconnected from others, especially furs, and this problem has been getting worse over the course of about 3 years. More specifically I feel as though I can't seem to connect with anyone and my previous relationships (both platonic and otherwise) have grown stagnant and faded. I've fallen away from those I used to associate with and there honestly hasn't been much effort on my part to prevent it. There is a constant turmoil inside me of a want for romantic/social satisfaction/acceptance and my lack of motivation to achieve it. I feel exhausted just trying to maintain a basic level of conversation with those I genuinely care about. It's important to note that this is in every aspect of my life and not limited to those associated with the fandom. Recently this has become even more of a burden as most of my social connection has been through the fandom. The need to be a part of something is still there even if I don't have the energy to deal with it. I've tried to become more active by attending con's and connecting more through social media. The issue however seems to be me as I can't form any new friendships or bonds.
Now I know this is not really a critical issue, and through the course of time shouldn't continue but the mental aspect of being completely out of touch with everything and everyone has been taking a toll. I'm beginning to feel more and more out of place and what I can only guess is anxiety seems to be getting the better of me. So all that being said I guess I'm asking if you have any advice for me to fix myself. Are there any key behaviors that are commonly associated with driving people away that I may be engaging in without realizing it? I appreciate any and all advice you are willing to give.
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Thank you for your letter. I have some questions, if you don't mind, about your background first.
Thank you. I look forward to your reply.
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Dear Papa Bear,
Thank you for responding,
I appreciate you taking the time to address my letter. In regards to your first question, I believe I might have some form of moderate social anxiety. I've always been a very reserved and shy person. When I was younger, I would often get nervous around people I didn't know. A lot of progress was made through my teenage years though and up until I started having my current issues it wasn't much of a problem.
As far as personal turmoil, I did experience a non-life-threatening gunshot wound injury roughly around the time frame this started that left me with limited use of my left hand and arm for approximately 8 months. (This was the result of negligence and happened in a controlled environment.) I've since regained about 90% use. The biggest issue I can pull from that experience was it caused me to start having anxiety attacks. Over time, though, this has gotten significantly better and has become pretty rare.
I apologize for not giving more clarity about my lack of effort. The easiest way for me to say it is I just stopped trying to connect with people who were close to me and gave up those friendships. Over a about a 3 year span, I've gradually stopped communicating with people. I've started to lose a sense of connection with people in my life. Things like going out with friends has become more of a chore than something to look forward too. I want to have a social life and enjoy the company of others but now I just feel exhausted trying to start a conversation. It's incredibly confusing to me because I want to have people to cherish in my life but at the same time I feel like I don't have the energy to deal with them. I can't really say why, either. It's not a conscious decision so much as it is a sudden realization.
Life started feeling like a haze somewhere around the time I started going back to work. This was the time that everything seemed to change. Once I got back into the swing of working and dealing with everyday life, I would often forget to talk to people and wouldn't realize it until several weeks had passed. It was odd because it's like I would just forget they existed. I started to really notice that I had distanced myself after It became apparent that many individuals were no longer trying to contact me and I hadn't seen or heard from them in months. I did try to reach out to them but the conversations are typically very dull now and don't get very personal. I don't believe they have much interest in renewing our friendship. (I basically cut them out of my life, so I don't blame them). I've tried to start over by attending cons and utilizing social media more frequently in an effort to motivate myself. So far, this method has failed and I'm at a standstill.
I don't have much of a relationship with my family to be honest. I don't know most of my extended family and I rarely talk to my parents or sister. This is not due to a falling out, we've just never been very close. As for coworkers, I enjoy the people I work with and there have not been any major issues. Any disagreements have always been solved just by talking through it.
There haven't been any conflicts that would have put a strain on my friendships that I know of. Before I fell away from everyone, things were actually going very smoothly.
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Hmm, well, sounds like the gunshot injury occurred at a firing range? Not sure why you still seem to be holding back information on this and are being coy about it. I’m not here to judge you; you can just tell me what happened straight up. This is important because, apparently, your troubles began around the time of the gun accident (perhaps exacerbated by the new job, but since you get along with your coworkers, I’d guess work is not the problem).
My guess at this point, and given the information that I have, is that something happened at that gun range, something that shook your trust in other people (unless this was self-inflicted, but it doesn’t sound like it). I am squinting my eyes between the lines and guessing that someone you trusted very well accidentally shot you, and even though you are recovering from the injury this has caused you great physical and emotional pain.
I don’t feel you are being honest with yourself that this event is all in the past and you’re over it. I really don’t think you are, and because you are suppressing something, it has to get out somehow; with you, the way it is getting out is by affecting your ability to socialize—trust—others. You become disinterested in really trying because whatever happened to you is blocking your ability to relate to others.
If I am right about this, the way to handle it is to face whatever happened at the gun range and deal with it. This means talking openly and honestly to the person who hurt you. You probably don’t feel you can do this because you feel the person didn’t mean to shoot you—and I would believe that to be true, as well. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be upset about what happened; it doesn’t mean you can’t be upset at the person who did this. You can say, “I forgive you,” but you still need to have the catharsis of releasing all the pent-up anger and hurt inside you.
Again, if I am right, it would be a good idea to find a qualified counselor to help guide you through this process.
Let me know,
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Dear Papa Bear,
I've thought a lot about what you've said, and a lot of it does ring true. I'm trying to look at my actions and thoughts now through a different perspective. It's true I didn't want to give details about the incident for a number of reasons, but I can't ask for advise if i'm not willing to tell you the problem. The injury did occur from a friend, it was a complete accident and I know this so I don't like mentioning it. It is difficult for me to go into detail because the whole situation at the time left me feeling vulnerable in a sense. This was a routine trip to a shooting complex and my friend who I'll just call "Fred" was a regular shooter there with me. The golden rule of safe shooting is knowing where your weapon is pointed at all times, well Fred just so happened to forget that rule when his weapon had a malfunction and failed to fire. The slide was locked on a live round and he couldn't unload it, so he turned around keeping the weapon pointed straight out from him which left the barrel aligned with me. He was trying to ask me to hand him a tool to fix the problem, but before he could finish the weapon discharged and sent a bullet through the top of my left hand up into my wrist.
Ever since then when I've talked to Fred we just kind of brush of the whole situation, we never really talked about it. I really just try to avoid thinking about it because there isn't anything I can do to fix it. I don't know if whats going on now is related to that, but I do see your point and I probably should address it with him. It was a scary situation and I've never felt that helpless before so I really don't like bringing it up.
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I understand your reticence, and we both recognize "Fred" didn't mean to hurt you and this was an accident. Even so, you have not emotionally resolved the hurt from this incident, and I truly believe that by pushing those emotions inside you it is now affecting your ability to trust other friends. This might not seem logical, but it is psychologically valid. As you know, I'm not a trained counselor, so I don't know the best way to go about helping you resolve your feelings so you may truly forgive Fred and regain your trust to form friendships and maintain the ones you have, but I think we've really found the problem here and if you talk to a counselor about it who is trained to help you in such matters, I think it will go a long way to helping you.
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