You Are Not for Everyone (and That's Okay): Navigating Loss of Relationships
Last updated: February 2022
I've always been somewhat of a loner growing up. Somehow, I always gravitated towards feeling misunderstood and not accepted by the majority of people. I always felt different.
Alienation with atopic dermatitis
My diagnosis of atopic dermatitis and constantly dealing with my skin outbreaks only reinforced this feeling more. I only became even more isolated as I grew older. While I have a wonderful community of other atopic dermatitis and TSW warriors, it's been difficult making friends and connections outside of that.
Some people will never understand
Somehow, there are people who, no matter how much you try to get through, just can't hear you. No matter how much you wish they would, so you could have some sort of relationship.
My habits haven't changed
I never imagined as a child, when I was sitting by the lockers alone with my head in a book, that I'd grow up to be almost the same adult. Except now, I'm in my house with my nose in a book, journal, or laptop.
Isolation, loneliness, and lack of self worth
Life with any chronic illness gets extremely lonely. A "normal" person can't possibly understand what we go through on a daily basis, no matter how hard they try. And then there are times and people who don't try at all.
My school years
I've struggled with connections and feelings of low self-worth as far back as I can remember. Being a refugee in 5th grade and not speaking English, on top of having eczema, didn't really do me any favors. By middle school, I spoke English fluently, but it was almost worse in some ways - now I could fully understand all the nasty remarks people would make behind my back. Then there was high school - the big years. By then, my skin had gotten to an all-time low, and I started to become more and more ashamed of myself and thus more isolated.
I had a few good friends who did accept me the way I was - flaws, warts, and all. For that, I am truly blessed. Unfortunately, when my illness got to its peak in my 20s, those connections faded out as well. I was bedridden for many years while going through TSW and had little to zero contact with anyone.
Getting back in touch
Getting back to life and establishing connections after that has been difficult, to say the least. As my skin healed more, I became more confident and tried to meet people in my area.
I even got REALLY brave once and went on dating apps and went out for a couple of dates. However, the feeling of isolation and not being understood only grew more. I felt ashamed, guilty, angry, and depressed. It culminated and grew over the years because I just wasn't dealing with it. I was suppressing it for many years.
Reaching a resolution
After many years of regular talk (cognitive-behavioral) therapy, TCM, hypnotherapy, and LOTS of journaling, writing, and self-reflection, I've come to realize that some people just aren't meant to be in our lives forever, and that's okay too.
Not everyone will hear me
I've also come to realize that home isn't a place or person; it is a feeling within. I felt isolated and alone because I felt empty inside. After all, we all just want to be seen and heard at the end of the day. But I now realize it is okay if we are not. Not everyone is meant to hear our song, and not everyone is meant to receive our message. It only makes it more special when there are people who do.
I have made strides
So these days, while I still mostly sit at home with my nose in a book, journal, or laptop, I have a few genuine friendships I will value forever. And although I still feel alone and isolated at times, I am actually quite content and able to enjoy my own presence. I no longer attempt to fill voids within myself through other people or things. I refuse to stay silent when something bothers me, whether that means the person will stay or not. And most of all, I no longer make myself small, and I no longer accept less than I deserve.
Releasing the shame
So while I'm still (sort of) that same kid with rashy skin, I'm no longer ashamed of it. I let others see me as I am, and I am okay within whether they accept me that way or not. I no longer have to worry about what others are saying behind my back because I have more security and a better foundation within myself.
Everything starts with a foundation, and if it is a strong one, we continue to build on that.
What type of infection do you deal with most often?