Prosthetic People

“I wonder if they’d notice that I’m not around
The loss of a lonely man never makes much of a sound

– Frightened Rabbit, Yes, I Would

10 months ago I severed ties with everyone I’d considered to be my friend.  My social life had been infected by my anxiety and depression, my relationships with those people corrupted and tainted, so I amputated them.  I cut them off and shut them out, in an attempt to quiet the constant nagging voices at the back of my mind that would constantly whisper tales of inadequacy and self-doubt, questioning my every move in the presence of people.

And it worked, for the most part.  I still felt uncomfortable in public, but it was never so personal as it had been when I was putting myself out there.  The voices no longer had merit, or justification.  I could see them for what they were, and call their bluffs.  It’s one thing to convince yourself that the people you consider to be your friends are just faking it to help out the local pity parade, but to believe that complete strangers are in on the rouse requires a whole new level of paranoia.  And luckily for me I wasn’t there yet.

But now that I’m getting better (knock on wood, fingers crossed) it’s occurred to me that maybe I’m ready to reconnect.  Barring for the moment the very real possibility that my old friends won’t even want anything to do with me after what I did (let’s just make sure I’m ready to cross the bridge before we tackle actually trying to cross it), I wonder if maybe I’m ready to try again.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this, but I still can’t decide.  I mean it’s not like solitude bothers me -I’m quite comfortable on my own, even if I’ve occasionally had pangs of nostalgia for what was- but maybe I can at least be open to the possibility of making social connections again, even if that doesn’t mean actively trying to reconnect with old friends or making new ones.

But I’m scared.  What if things go bad again?  What if the voices come back and I have to do it all over again, or worse I don’t get the chance to?  I was in a very dark place when I made that fateful decision all those months ago, and I don’t know that I’d be able to make it out again.

And then there’s the impact my actions have on the people around me.  I can’t rekindle old friendships or start new ones knowing full well that I might have to cut them out again one day.  Even if they do end up meaning more to me than I mean to them, that’s still a shitty thing to do.  People are not disposable.  They are not meant to be used when you need them and then discarded when they become too much of a hassle.

If I open myself up to the possibility of new friendships or old ones, knowing that I will always have this backdoor available to me should things get rough again, the result will be an endless string of prosthetic relationships.  The sincerity will be gone, in its place a fragile network of fake crutches designed to be temporary should the need arise for me to disappear again.  If I’m not one hundred percent ready to let people into my life for better or worse, I will never have the security I need to maintain a long-lasting and meaningful friendship.

And I don’t feel ready.

So the question remains: if I am perfectly capable of -and even better off- living a life alone, then why shouldn’t I?

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