Open Up or Close off? (Warning: Rant)

And for the first time, I’m not open to suggestions that I’m presenting a false dichotomy.

Okay what prompted this thread all started when I noticed that some people often ask why I’m not so sociable but a few hours later, I’m surrounded by people who either don’t respond to my attempts or worse, wish I wasn’t there.

As of today, it’s gotten worse.

It began with me asking about a certain loan from my sister and all of a sudden, I’m getting the Scrooge treatment. I didn’t even shout or demand, I just simply asked.

Now the shouting matches began. Gloves started falling off. The next thing I knew, the entire family was against me. They’ve dug up and hit me with every bit of vitriol that they’ve always levied against my character (“You’ve always got that stupid tone!” “Why are you so demanding?” “Ya gotta shout!?” “Don’t think you help around doesn’t mean you can disrespect me young man!”).

In the end, I ultimately ended up the bad guy. And you wanna know what made this so special? My dear sweet younger brother finally confirmed just how much hatred everyone had for me. He pretty much confirmed ever ounce of suspicion that I was not a likeable person. I had a repulsive ‘aura’ that he and his friends use as a reason to be not so friendly towards me.

In other words, I’ve been what I’ve been brooding about all along: a villain, a monster, a guy whose very words are (in my brother’s own words) ‘a spout of lava that burns everything’.

Now on the good chance that some of you might side with him and presume that he’s some hero in the face of a fire-breathing, hot-headed villain who needs to change his ways, I ask you this: Have you any idea how I’ve killed myself over and over just to please these people? That I can’t recognize what I see in the mirror whenever I kowtow to what they define as acceptable, sociable, and ideal?

In exchange for their smiles and satisfaction, I make myself sick?

Yet now I have people wondering why I don’t socialize, why I keep my mouth shut, or why I’ve given up on surrounding myself with people all the time.

You think I don’t feel lonely? I do! I just also realize the hopelessness of it all because I’m apparently the socially-inept horror that everyone will hate for even just opening up one bit.

If you ask me, I think I’d rather close off. Minimize any emotional attachment to any activity, no matter how proactive I’ll have to be (and who needs emotion to be proactive at a job anyways). I either feel sick or feel sorry for those who don’t understand my insistence on being inside my shell.

NEver close up. I tried that and did that and you know where it got me? To the lowest point of my existance. I feel horrid and I start getting sorta paranoid of other peoples opinions of me. Your opinion is needed it is just as good as any other persons. You should give your opinion and stay calm during an argument. I’m probably not a good person to answer this AS MY AGE AND i DONT QUITE UNDERSTAND THE QUESTION OR CANT REMEMBER IT ALL… STUPID CAPS LOCKS TURNED ON…ARGH! X)




You know your post was a wake up call for me about how I should stop holding it in at school… it started at school and made me bitter at home… and a little at school.

I am getting better though I think, now that I am trying to be more open, just gotta work on first block…

But I am wondering who I am now…:shrug:

I don’t think closing up has ever made me paranoid. If anything, it’s a relief. It’s given me reason to care only about what comes out of my mouth (which is of course, nothing as much as possible).

Tell that to my family. :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

LW, I think a lot of people run into the same difficulties-- wanting their point to be heard, not necessarily their tone to be the focus.

I certainly have had the same challenges.

In our closest circles though, its hard to change the dynamic. Everyone expects you to relate/ act a certain way and they act their part whether or not you are acting your part. Usually, sooner than later, the guy who’s trying to change falls into the same-old trap. Viola. Dynamics remain intact.

I have a friend who’s a therapist. Most of his clients are life-coach clients. They learn how to act and communicate in new ways-- despite the typical currencies of acrimony and rudeness.

Maybe that sort of guidance will help you.

It is more the worrying what other people are saying and thinking people dont like you. Mabye not paranoid…:shrug::blush::smiley:

Sometimes we meet poeple who just want to argue with us but we need to defend ourselves but not to do so in a cruel way. Just remember just because they think something doesn’t mean it is true.

My mother’s tried to put me through one of those a few times already. Not that none of them had a point, but it just made her and everyone else seem more hypocritical. The coaches themselves gave some nice pointers. Seeing my mom and my siblings ditch them in favor of just finding an excuse to deprecate me and make me into someone I’m not just killed all the value I could’ve taken. It doesn’t help that some of these people mix up shady New Age philosophies along with the good stuff. I prefer to keep them separate (especially when it’s so easy!)

Actually, one reason why I don’t hate those who wonder about my lack of socialization is the fact that they don’t like how I let people off for insulting me. This one guy, a good friend of mine, even got angry on my behalf because he really found that I don’t care too much for insults to me anymore.

It’s the apathy that actually makes closing up far less likely to make you worry about what other people think. Sure I want to defend myself but what better defense than to not give an emotional hoot and clam up?

God is Truth, Goodness, Love and Beauty itself. The more we die to ourselves and our petty attachments and allow God’s grace to transform us, the more God’s truth, goodness, love and beauty will shines through us. Since the purpose of each human being is to become a perfect saint, the way God weaves saintliness in us is through the crosses in our daily life—crosses which often come as people and family members who can irritate us.

The maxim “no pain, no gain” rings true in every aspect of our life. For example, the pain of exercise and discipline produces world class athletes. The pain of study and practice produces a master violinist; etc. Likewise, the pain of carrying our crosses with the intent of allowing God to mold and sculpt us into what He wants us to become, the more we

If we are impatient, the only way we can learn patience is we have something to be patient about. It’s easy to be patient when there’s nothing to be patient about; likewise it’s easy to fast from food when we are not hungry. On our own it is impossible to overcome our weaknesses, but with God’s sanctifying grace, we can do anything God wants us to do. The primary ways of receiving sanctifying grace is through the sacraments.

Here’s a talk you might find helpful

It is so easy to be misunderstood by others. It does help when we then empathize with what Our Lord Jesus Christ went through.

I have prayed for a thicker skin, (to not be so sensitive) and for Jesus to be my Wisdom in all things. I need to do that every day, and ask Him again and again, especially in the Eucharist. I can do nothing without Him - and He gets me to know myself, and is my peace.

Although I don’t have this sort of problem with my family, I can understand the concept of closing off. For me, I kind of have limits to how open I am with certain people. With family I’m probably at a 5 or 6 out of 10 normally - (10 being outgoing and 1 being shut.) With good friends maybe a 7 or 8 out of 10. Once in awhile I can get all the way to 10, but that’s only when I’m reciting my philosophical opinions in Bible study.

I used to close people off a lot more, and that helped me feel more secure about myself “in the moment” when I didn’t want to make myself look stupid, but at the same time it made being me just a boring day-to-day existence, and eventually I got so deep into my mind - being alone to my thoughts so often - that I started pondering on things that fried my brain, doing things I shouldn’t have, and basically just became worthless as a person because I don’t even have many chores around the house or people to talk to. I started getting more resentful towards things and everything just sort of started losing its appealing luster to me. But I’ve gotten over that stuff finally, and opening up to people I can relate to has helped. If it weren’t for my meeting my best friend at my old parish I would probably still be like that.

Personal input on what you’ve made known in this post - take a step back and look at all the factors in the mess. I’m sure you probably have (and probably more than once), but you need to take into account what is causing you stress and what is causing others stress. As is my experience, these things are almost always misunderstandings gone awry. Get yourself and your family on the same level so you can work things out - that doesn’t mean putting yourself at the same status as everyone else, but just be on the same line of thought if possible.

The key to that though is making it a sustainable situation, which means no rebellious activity (if that does happen) while you’re trying to settle things down. Acknowledge your status, however humbling it might have to be, as a teenage son. I’m one too so I have a mom & dad, not to mention several other siblings above me. Sometimes I feel like I’m looked down upon but I can’t do anything about it. Being aggressive (if that’s the case) will most certainly only make things worse, so you might need to be accepting of harsh criticism, and when you respond it cannot be aggressive or offensively defensive, if you get my meaning.

I’ve never had any serious or even moderate problems or disputes with my family, and that’s due to 16 years of good manners, eating dirt on occasion, and being understanding of others even if they have no clue what I’m about. It sucks sometimes, but it keeps all my relations clean and healthy, and at about this time I’m starting to get to know more people and I’m able to relate with them easier because I can get along and I’m laid-back enough.

I have no clue what the exact problem is that you and your family are having, but I’ll certainly keep you in prayers and you can count me as a cyber-friend, if not a long-winded one.

I think you just need to find at least one person who can understand who you are and be a real friend to you. Not everyone has a sweet and sugary personality–in fact most people don’t and I don’t either; although I typically try to be nice to people, I don’t try to hide it when someone annoys or angers me. Maybe I should, but I don’t; it’s just not who I am.

I went through an extended period of being the family scapegoat and you are discribing exactly how I felt. My brother and sisters were going through “hard times” where they were making bad “choices”. (Some of which involved court dates.) I, however, was constantly being accused of the most unforgivable sin of all; a superior attitude. So, if I showed straight A’s to my mother I got, “So, I suppose you think you’re better than your sister just because your “booksmart”.” My homelife was a constant arguement and I felt like anything I said or did was going to be ridiculed. It felt like my family was actually looking forward to me failing at something so I would be “put in my place”. I won’t say that I “closed off” as a result, but I did go away to school and when I came home for short periods, there was alot less fighting. I guess absense does make the heart grow fonder.

Talk to God

and yes i know that sounds not helpful but really talk to God.

Challenging family is difficult to do and I haven’t the answer to how to go about that side to deal with things direct.

Trust me, I have a good idea about how you feel. Some people look at you, they see your face and body, what it is, but to them it looks like something putrid, which mose certainly it’s not. They’ll take anything you say, one’s attitude, and twist it to what they want it to be, not what it really is. They’ll perceive it as they want to, not how it is and what it is. It’s not that you’re unsociable, it’s that people want you to be unsociable, even though, you are not.

Many of the Saints were often misunderstood that way. St Francis of Assisi, St Padre Pio, St Agnes…lot’s of Saints. Pray for those who misunderstand you, and read the advice of other posts here, which by far are superb.

I have had conversations with my brother in which he made the pretense (true or not, and I can’t really know) that “everyone” was mad at me. By the accounts of my siblings, however, it turns out that he had, let us say, grossly oversimplified and definitely over-generalized a temporary upset that was only present in some of our siblings. Maybe he was exaggerating, maybe they were backpedalling, who knows.

The best way to handle it is to tell him “If they’re mad at me, please encourage them to tell me directly. If they don’t want to tell me, though, then respect their right to not tell me, and keep it to yourself, thank you very much.” This is even if your sibling is trying to do you a “favor” by “tipping you off” about how upset everyone is at you.

So I guess my answer to your dichotomy is this: do both. Learn healthy ways to communicate and apply them to your family relationships. Things like sticking to the topic at hand without dredging up past grievances, requiring all adults to speak for themselves, and so on. Melody Beattie and AA kinds of stuff…not to be flippant, but literally the kinds of things that help you deal with a dysfunctional family without driving yourself to drink! Sometimes this will leave you more “open” than any of them have the courage to be, and sometimes it will mean being what they regard as “closed”. What it will really mean is knowing what healthy boundaries are for you, respecting your need for them and your right to them, and sticking to them. What they do with that, let that be their problem. Really.

In all of this, though, remember that shunning is emotional aggression. If you’re cutting yourself off from them, and you may need to do that, please try not to do it in an aggressive way. Let it be about behaviors, not a rejection of persons, or about giving yourself emotional space. Don’t let it be about punishing others by your absence. That is self-poison and very uncharitable to boot.

Charity is not our ideal, but our law. That has to come first.

Also, it is not a sign of emotional stunting to get to the point where insults and bad treatment don’t have a power to manipulate you any more. Anyone who tells you that it is might be more vulnerable to the machinations of the socially unhealthy than you are. Whether that is by temperament or by learning hardly matters. If you can do what works, don’t apologize for it to those who can’t do that.

An alternative: serve others.

Not your familiy, close off from them for a while.

Volunteer helping others. Feed the poor at a Catholic relief center. Visit prisoners through a prison ministry. Tutor younger kids - you’re an artist, right?

Read about the young life of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Well the problem is I’m no longer a teenager and I’m old enough know for a fact that I’ve been getting the short end of self-respect since I was a kid. And yet, my family STILL adamantly refuses to give my feelings of self-worth any consideration.

That’s what drives me crazy. It’s either their way or the highway and the highway makes me want to smash my face in the rear-view mirror. I’ve just killed myself way too many times already to keep kowtowing.

If I did, I’d be less inclined to rant about it in this forum. :o

I don’t see how my motivation matters. Even if unintentional, my presence and attempts to interact are met with regret, anger, and hatred. They’re a punishment whereas my lack of activity and descent into almost non-existence is Godsent for these people. They demand me to change but such change either sickens me or is just not me (or worse, downright contradicts what’s left of my Catholic identity.)

Ahhhhh, I see - that would present a different situation.:frowning: But what exactly is the issue though? (I haven’t read all the other posts, in the event that’s already been specified) Obviously there are angry feelings going about, but over what?

LW, these circumstances pretty much repeat themselves in your life, evidenced by your various threads in this vein, and evidenced by your posts in this particular thread.

Its gotta be getting sooooo old for you. Your options, unless you can do magic, seem to be pretty limited. But fear not-- that’s true for all of us in tough situations. That’s what makes them tough. And have hope-- some of your limited options have exciting probable outcomes.

Option 1: make no changes. Your family is mean. You react to their meanness. Results: same old.

Option 2: make changes in your own behavior with the secret intent if vanquishing your opponent ie., trying to show them you don’t need them: trying to show them they’re idiots: trying to prove to them anything. Results: same old, but with the added despair that nothing works. You’re trapped.

Option 3: change your behaviors with only ONE motivation-- seeking to deepen your relationship with GOD. Then, you speak when its necessary. Remain silent when necessary. The reaction of the crowd is NOTHING to you because their reaction isn’t the point. You’re not seeking their approval. You’re not intentionally provoking their disapproval.

A guy who embarks in this path does note the (at least initial) dialing up of negative crowd behavior. People work hard at maintaining comfortable I-win paradigms. There will be some push-back if you decide to be the game-changer. There will be even more push-back if you decide you’re no longer in the game.

The outcome of option 3 is hard-won, self-disciplined freedom.

So, Contestant, what’ll you have? Option 1? Option 2? Or option 3?

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