On Releasing My Need to Belong

Today’s post is a bit of a departure from my typical fare.  It’s a “Dear John” letter to a peer group where I’m officially accepting their inferred exclusion status (whether they find this or not is now inconsequential,  the writing is a form of catharsis.  It if helps those surprised by my actions today to understand those actions, all the better).

I hung on for a couple of years hoping against hope that somehow, I could rediscover a common-ground with a bunch of friends that I still love like family.  It hasn’t happened, and I see now that it’s not likely to.

It’s time to accept it and make some positive change.  I’ve had my last day playing victim to this exclusion. It’s time for me to get on living a life without this  roller-coaster ride. Today, I’m quarterizing the emotional wound and moving on.

I look  back on the situation that led me to making this  decision today.  It’s fair to say that I’ve been living in a kind of self-made hell for the past two years.  Each atom lovingly etched with my initials, and carefully placed in a a spot to cause me maximum emotional pain.  This moment was probably inevitably charged to fire the moment I asked Fiona to marry me.

My good days have been numb, my bad days angry, and my worst, depressed.  When I couldn’t bottle it up any longer, I’d lash out at whoever was nearest, which inevitably was my immediate family, generating a wonderful little tightly bound systemic collapse in me.

I won’t go into detail. Those who are intimately familiar with the story don’t need a recap.  I’ll just say here that it turned out to be impossible for me to find some kind of bridge between my wife and this peer group.

This decision is one where despite the fact that on many issues I agree with this peer group, my wife is still my wife. And there are ways to disagree with a person without being a f**king c**t about it.

I’ve had to accept some bitter pills in processing all this.  They were friends after all (and not just friends, but besties), and I was attracted to them because I resembled them in many ways, including being an amazingly judgemental a**hole when it suited me.

My wife remains the woman I love, and mother of two beautiful children who need me. Though I’ve had some pretty big disagreements with her on how we’re raising our kid. My children need me, not some heartbroken codependent f**ktard with anger mangement issues.   Dear ex-peer group:  Though it breaks my heart to say it, you don’t need me, so today, I release my need for you in my life.

It was me that needed you, and it’s not a healthy need, so I’m cutting deep into this little social network and extricating myself from it in a very obvious display.  The breaking point was looking through wedding photos last night and sitting with my pain, really allowing myself to be with it.  In that moment, I realised I’ve been here before.  It’s a kind of co-dependence where I’ve been desperate for your approval/love, and willing to hang in there for whatever little slops are left in whatever game we’ve been playing these past two years. Now that I see it, it’s time to rediscover my self-respect.

In this process though, I finally got it through my thick skull.  Turns out that it’s impossible to judge another human being (what do you know?  Seems that book had something for me after all).  The closest anyone can ever come is to judge the little facsimile that they have running around in their head representing the actual, ultimately unknowable entity that the fax represents.  This little avatar misses out on vital details, like the private thoughts the person has, the conversations they have when they aren’t around me, their history before we met, etc.

And when I can’t guess their motives?  I’ll fill in the missing detail with my own.  These little avatars are my mental constructs and they can be wildly inaccurate when another starts straying from the model of behaviour this avatar predicts. Show me a person judging another now, and I’ll learn a great deal about the former, and almost nothing verifyable of the latter.  I can’t un-see it now, even if I wanted to.  When I’m judging another, I’m just judging an aspect of myself that I formed to model that other.

So that’s how I want to end this: with heart-felt thanks.  I’ve been to a f**king awful mental place, and come back with a lesson that turned out to be worth the price of admission.  Thank-you ex-peer group.   I love you all, but I love myself enough now to know when it’s time to let you go.  Travel well. I’ll miss you.

One final thing for this group’s consideration:  You might be feeling that in tearing myself out of your social web, that I’m judging you.  It’s still possible that this is happening;  I’ve learned that the onion-ring of Linds-motivation runs deep.

Let me offer you an alternative perspective:  I can’t see/hear news of one of you without the wound of peer-exclusion re-opening.  In healing this pain, the only thing that has worked for me in the past is to simply have you drop out of conscious thought. Anything less allows me to pick at wounds that I need now to heal. If I felt there were an alternative that’d work involving contact between us, I’d have tried it by now.

with regrets,



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